Evaluate the use of student-directed learning funds. One of the most innovative education programs you will find anywhere in the country is Epic School’s learning fund. It provides direct financial aid for students, allowing them to receive personalized learning resources and activities. This could be a model for all schools to follow, not just charter schools. Oklahoma should open the door for education research in this novel, student-centric learning program.
It is no secret that questions have been raised about the mismanagement of public funds by Epic Schools. This year, Epic will receive in excess of $200 million in state funding. That is more than the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. It is appropriate to examine whether Epic violated the terms of its contract with the virtual board. I believe that the Epic students and teachers deserve a prompt, fair and open proceeding to address these concerns once and for all. It is not healthy for a school to have a cloud of uncertainty hanging over its head. As soon as possible, there should be a fair, impartial hearing of the facts. Then, whatever the outcome, we need to move on and focus our resources toward building a brighter future for Oklahoma.
When I became chairman of the Virtual Charter Board in June 2019, Epic co-founder David Chaney told me that Stitt wanted us to work things out in private, rather than in open meetings. I do not know if that is true or not. Publicly, Stitt has said that he replaced me on the board because he wanted there to be a fresh perspective to represent him. We will soon learn if this new direction includes a willingness to embrace change and to address concerns openly, or if it really is just a return to politics as usual and the status quo for Oklahoma students and educators.