Oklahoma lawmakers have introduced a spate of bills this session to impose new restrictions on school curriculum and teacher training as well as introduce learning materials from conservative groups into classrooms.
- Senate Bill 1149 by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, and House Bill 4328 by Rep. Wendi Stearman, R-Collinsville, would require schools to post all professional development materials for teacher and student curriculum online, as well as disclose how the materials were selected. Much of the bills’ language comes from model legislation from both the Goldwater Institute and the Manhattan Institute.
- Senate Bill 1250 by Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, and Senate Bill 1174 by Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard, would prevent schools from offering credit or extra points for student political activity or lobbying. The bills also prohibit teachers from showing bias while discussing current events in class. The bill would prevent teachers from being compelled to talk about “a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.” The bills include some word-for-word language copied from model legislation from the group No Left Turn in Education and the conservative group the National Association of Scholars.
- Senate Bill 1508 by Bullard would require school districts to submit to the State Department of Education detailed expenditure reports on diversity, inclusion and social justice training for teachers and administrators.
- Senate Bill 1142 by Sen. Shane Jett, R-Shawnee, would outlaw teaching of social-emotional learning in schools.
- Senate Bill 1652 by Jett would require higher education institutions to post their budget for student and teacher diversity curriculum online.
- Senate Bill 1654 by Jett would ban voluntary surveys in schools from asking questions about sexuality or gender and would ban school libraries and curriculum from including books that deal with sexuality or gender.
- Senate Bill 1125 by Bullard and Rep. Danny Williams, R-Seminole, would require schools to post teacher training and professional development materials online.
- House Bill 3197 by Williams would allow for Oklahoma schools to use supplemental curriculum from the conservative group WallBuilders and Hillsdale College.
- House Bill 2988 by Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, would prohibit teaching The New York Times 1619 Project in schools.
- Senate Bill 1141 by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, would ban college requirements for classes unrelated to a student’s core area of study dealing with gender, sex, equality, or racial diversity.
- Senate Bill 1169 by Standridge would require teaching “patriotic education” about Oklahoma history in the form of the “1907 Project,” a set of curriculum to be developed by appointees from the House, Senate and Governor. It is copied from similar legislation in Texas.
- Senate Bill 1401 by Standridge, labeled as the “Critical Race Theory Curriculum Elimination Act,” would impose civil penalties of at least $10,000 on school personnel who teach lessons related to critical race theory require the employee to be fired and blacklisted from educational employment for at least five years.
- Senate Bill 1102 by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would require social studies classes to teach at least 45 minutes every Nov. 7 on “Victims of Communism Day.” The day, proposed by libertarian law professor Ilya Somin, is also the subject of model legislation proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Nov. 7 is the day of the “October Revolution” in Russia, referred to as such because Russia at the time used the Julian calendar.
- Senate Bill 1121 by Dahm would require schools to distribute historical Thanksgiving day proclamations, all of which list the importance and role of Christian faith.
- Senate Bill 1382 by Dahm would add reading requirements for high schoolers that contain some theological themes.
- Senate Bill 1097 by Dahm would require the Oklahoma State Department of Education to contract for curriculum for a four-year pilot project for 11th graders on U.S. history, government and civics. The bill narrowly tailors the subject areas to align with free high school curriculum courses from Hillsdale College, a Michigan-based private school founded by Christian abolitionists during the 1840s.
Oklahoma has agreed to give electric vehicle manufacturer Canoo $15 million over the next four years from the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund if the company meets hiring targets and other goals.
While Canoo has said it plans to create 700 new jobs including engineering and tech positions in Tulsa as part of its long-term plans, the company will only have to create 85 high-paying jobs in the city by 2024 and maintain 179 jobs there through July 2027 to collect one $5 million chunk of the Quick Action money.
While Canoo is a startup that has yet to turn a profit, the $15-million deal is the largest the state has ever awarded since the Quick Action program was created under Gov. Mary Fallin in 2011. The fund is intended to allow the governor to lure new employers to the state with cash payments.
The Frontier obtained copies of two contracts the company has signed with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce for the Quick Action money through an open records request.
Canoo can collect up to $10 million in cash from the Quick Action Closing Fund to help build a new manufacturing plant in Pryor that could create 1,500 new jobs over the next decade, according to the first contract. The company will be able to collect the first $3 million after it spends at least $48 million and completes 10 percent of construction on the factory. In order to collect the full $10 million, Canoo must complete construction on the plant and invest $450 million in the facility by July 2026.
The company is also required to repay incentive money to the state if it does not begin building the factory by January 2023, complete construction by July 2026 or meet other performance goals.
Canoo can reap another $5 million in cash from the Quick Action fund to help create high-paying tech and engineering jobs in Tulsa, according to the second contract. The company has said it plans to create 700 new jobs for software development, research, customer support and financing in the city. Canoo plans to create those jobs over the next 10 years, but will only have to hire 85 people by July 2024 and meet certain wage requirements to collect the full $5 million, according to the contract.
The jobs Canoo has pledged to bring to Tulsa must have average annual salaries between $85,000 and $125,000 for the company to qualify for the incentive money.
Canoo is required to repay the money if it doesn’t hit its hiring goals and wage requirements by July 2027, according to the contract.
The company will also have to repay the state with interest and share any profits if it sells its Tulsa operations before meeting the job and wage requirements laid out in the contract.
In an earnings call on Monday, Canoo CEO Tony Aquila said the company has secured a combined $400 million in incentives from Oklahoma and Arkansas to bring its vehicles to market.
The company said in December it planned to make between 3,000 and 6,000 electric vehicles this year, but a prototype model is still in testing phases, the company said in an earnings release on Monday.
The details of other incentives the state of Oklahoma has offered from a package the company has valued at $300 million remain unclear.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is not currently offering Canoo any other incentives outside of the $15 million Quick Action funds, Amy Blackburn, a spokeswoman for the agency said Tuesday. But the company could be eligible for additional incentives after filing taxes in Oklahoma, she said.
The state-run MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor has also offered Canoo millions in incentives including free land and infrastructure.
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