Oklahoma’s tribal governments could soon sponsor charter schools, providing much-needed help to lower-income children.

Senate Bill 586, by state Sen. John Ford and state Rep. Jabar Shumate, would allow any of Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized American Indian tribes to sponsor a charter school located in a district with more than 5,000 students in a major metropolitan area.


Oklahoma’s tribal governments could soon sponsor charter schools, providing much-needed help to lower-income children.
Senate Bill 586, by state Sen. John Ford and state Rep. Jabar Shumate, would allow any of Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized American Indian tribes to sponsor a charter school located in a district with more than 5,000 students in a major metropolitan area.
“I believe the civil rights issue of the 21st century is how we ensure a quality education for all children, regardless of their background,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa. “It is exciting that our tribal governments want to take an active role in this effort and I am proud to carry this legislation.”
Shumate said the Cherokee Nation, in particular, has expressed interest in sponsoring a charter school.
Charter schools operate free of most state mandates, which are often unfunded, providing increased local control. Those schools have been largely successful in increasing the educational outcomes for many low-income students.
One charter school serving many of Shumate’s constituents – the Deborah Brown Community School – ranks among the top elementary schools in Oklahoma.
In 2006, the school achieved a perfect Academic Performance Index score of 1,500.