After a harrowing deadline week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives has slowed down a bit to prepare to vet the Senate bills that remain active in the legislative process.
My focus at the Legislature will always be on education, because it is such an important service provided by the state. I was very happy to see several education bills get past the first hurdle and proceed to the Senate. A measure that would provide a pay raise for certain special education teachers passed out of the House of Representatives during deadline week and now moves to the Senate for consideration. House Bill 1233 would require the Oklahoma Board of Education to issue a provisional certificate to teachers who work with students with mild-moderate or severe-profound disabilities and would provide a 10-percent pay raise for those teachers working with students with autism, emotional disturbances or in the severe-profound disabilities range. Teachers who teach in the same district for five years or more would get an additional 5-percent raise.
House lawmakers are also pushing strongly for an increase to education funding and we hope Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate leaders will heed our call in the budget negotiation process.
The safety of our schools is very important. Two antibullying bills that we approved in the House will help address current oversights in the law. The first is a bill I authored that will add cyberbullying language into law so that schools have some authority to address bullying of their students that takes place online and can compromise both the safety and education environment of their school. Another bill will allow parents to obtain a transfer for their child on short notice with only the permission of the receiving school.
An important bill to ensure the long-term viability of the National Board certification incentive was approved by House lawmakers. House Bill 1880 would instruct the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation to pay the processing charge and assessment fee of up to $2,750 for up to 100 teachers seeking certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards each fiscal year and provide a $500 scholarship for selected applicants. Candidates who do not receive an up-front payment but complete the process would be reimbursed $2,750. Teachers certified or started the process prior to June 30, 2013, will receive a $5,000 bonus each year for 10 years. Teachers who obtain certification after June 30, 2012, will be eligible to receive additional salary increments set forward in the measure between the steps for bachelor's degrees and master's degrees.
I look forward to telling you about further developments this session. I can be contacted at (405) 557-7304.