David Blatt at the Oklahoma Policy Institute details some odd alliances in the Oklahoma legislature over education reform:
But on SB 1111, a bill authored by Sen. Clark Jolley that moves various education reporting and accountability functions from the State Department of Education to the Office of Accountability based with the Regents for Higher Education, it was four mostly liberal Democrats (Anastasia Pittman, Rebecca Hamilton, Seneca Scott, and Jabar Shumate), representing some of the lowest-income urban districts in the state, who joined with 54 of 59 Republicans to pass the bill in the House and send it to Governor Brad Henry…
The vote on SB 1111 suggests that on educational issues, old assumptions and old alliances seem to be breaking down. The bill represents at least the third time in three years that Oklahoma Democrats representing low-income urban districts have opposed their party leadership and most of the organized educational interest organizations on education bills.
At its essence, these battles represent a profound frustration and disappointment in the poor performance of public schools in low-income, disproportionately-minority urban neighborhoods and a belief that poor families deserve a wider array of choices for their children.