Two legislators were honored Aug. 23 for their support of public education with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association’s Legislator of the Year Award.
Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, and Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, served as leaders of education appropriations subcommittee in their respective legislative bodies during the most recent legislative session. They accepted the award during the association’s annual conference at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
“In their leadership roles this past session, Sen. Pemberton and Rep. Mark McBride helped ensure public schools received a second consecutive year of increased investment, resulting in $640 million in new school funding over the last two years,” OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime said. “They are strong friends of public education, and the schoolchildren of our state are fortunate to have them representing their interests at the state Capitol.”
Pemberton, a retired educator, and McBride jointly authored legislation to phase-in restoration of class-size limits. Pemberton also authored bills to modernize alternative education funding and strengthen charter school accountability and transparency.
McBride authored a bill designed to help the state Education Department recruit high-quality employees by allowing retired educators to work for the department without income limitations and contribute to the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System while drawing full benefits from the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System. He also authored a bill to make the Lindsey Nicole Henry voucher program more transparent, although the bill wasn’t approved during the most recent session.
“We’re grateful to Sen. Pemberton and Rep. McBride for their strong leadership and look forward to future opportunities to work collaboratively to strengthen public education,” Hime said.
“It is an honor to be receiving the OSSBA Legislative award for promoting meaningful education legislation last session,” Pemberton said. “There is no higher calling than to be a champion for young people and educators across the state of Oklahoma.”
McBride said being the chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee for Education is the most rewarding position he’s had in his seven years as a state legislator and that his goal for his remaining time in the legislature is to make sure Oklahoma is in the top 10 in the nation in terms of funding for education, including classroom dollars and teacher pay. “We want great teachers in our classrooms and great results for our kids. I will continue to work hard to ensure that happens.”
OSSBA’s government relations committee, comprised of school board members from across the state, selected this year’s winners.