Friday, August 26, 2016

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year to be announced on Tuesday

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has the details on the upcoming announcement of the 2017 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Pictured above (at left) is OCPA’s Estela Hernandez, who served as a judge in the competition. At right is Myron Pope, vice president for student affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma, one of the other judges in the contest.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

'School choice can be a winning issue'

So notes The Oklahoman in a house editorial today. 
In Senate District 25 in the Tulsa area, Republican Joe Newhouse won easily against Lisa Kramer. Newhouse supported school choice, including education savings accounts. Kramer was strongly opposed, even voting as a member of the Bixby school board to ignore Oklahoma law and deny state scholarships to children with special needs. That became an issue in the runoff.

Republican Scott McEachin won his runoff handily for the House District 67 seat against an opponent who was vocally against school choice. The contrast wasn't as stark in other races, but several candidates who supported school choice and ESAs won their GOP runoffs. These include Pugh, Dave Rader in Senate District 39, Matt Jackson in House District 85 and Lonnie Paxton in Senate District 23. In some of those races, both runoff candidates supported school choice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The myth of the underpaid teacher lives on

Larry Sand on the latest report from a union front group.

Parental choice candidates advance

Supporters of parental choice in education should be pleased with last night's election results, as a press release from the American Federation for Children (AFC) makes clear.

Joe Newhouse
In Senate District 25, "AFC supported Joe Newhouse over his opponent Lisa Kramer. Newhouse is a U.S. Navy fighter pilot who campaigned as a supporter of public education and school choice, including education savings accounts or ESAs. Newhouse’s opponent opposed school choice and as a member of the Bixby School Board voted to defy the law and deny students with special needs access to state-funded scholarships. In the end, SD 25 voters strongly supported Newhouse’s optimistic message of school choice over Kramer’s indifference to children with very serious challenges."

The result shouldn't be surprising—by now it's no secret that Republicans support school choice—but still it seemed like it would be a close race. It wasn't until I saw the kiss-of-death endorsement from the Tulsa World telling Republicans to vote for the longtime Democrat Kramer that I knew this race would indeed be Melissa Abdo 2.0. Incidentally, some folks profess to be quite upset about "dark money" (also known as "First Amendment money") when it helps pro-school-choice candidates, but seem blissfully unconcerned when it helps anti-school-choice candidates.

Scott McEachin
In House District 67, "AFC supported Scott McEachin in the runoff. McEachin is an attorney and longtime Republican activist who campaigned on boosting teacher pay without tax increases and supporting school choice, namely ESAs." OCPA trustee Tom Coburn endorsed McEachin, and some OCPA staff and family members made weekend treks to Tulsa to knock doors for him. McEachin's opponent was surprisingly vocal in his opposition to school choice, almost as if he thought he was involved in a Democratic runoff. In other words, he chose a position contrary to Ronald Reagan and James Lankford and Mary Fallin and Todd Lamb and Scott Pruitt and Jim Bridenstine and the state and national GOP platforms. And, he lost the GOP runoff 56.44 percent to 43.56 percent. Ouch.

"Additional candidates who have supported school choice and ESAs in writing won their primary elections as well," AFC adds. They are (clockwise, from top left): Adam Pugh, Senate District 41; Dave Rader, Senate District 39; Matt Jackson, House District 85; and Lonnie Paxton, Senate District 23.

"Tonight’s victories follow an impressive showing by pro-school choice candidates in the June primaries where 12 out of 15 bipartisan candidates supported by AFC either won their election outright or advanced to a runoff election," AFC says. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Common Core, LGBTQ agenda spur homeschooling surge

"Local newspapers and homeschool leaders from West Virginia to Alabama and North Carolina to Texas report a surge in homeschooling interest and enrollment," Nicole Russell writes.

Why more black parents are homeschooling their kids

"While some parents cite religious and moral reasons," The Christian Science Monitor reports, "others say they are keeping their kids out of public schools to protect them from school-related racism."

From medical doctor to homeschooling mom

Trauma surgeon Kathryn Butler, who teaches at Harvard Medical School, tells why she left clinical practice to homeschool her children.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Oklahoma school districts are sitting on $1.9 billion

OCPA research fellow Steve Anderson's much-discussed blog post is here. An accountant whose firm has audited school districts for several years, Mr. Anderson has heard it all before. Listen to his conversation with OCPA trustee Michael Carnuccio (here) and with OCPA vice president Trent England (here).

In addition, OCPA president Jonathan Small discusses the topic with KFOR and with The Oklahoman.

Oklahoma mom says child bullied by teachers, students

FOX 25 has the story.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Oklahomans (still) support parental choice in education

An honest reading of the public-opinion survey data over the past couple of years shows that Oklahomans favor educational choice. But what if a pollster explored the question again now, in this climate dominated by daily news stories in which the public education community (despite $8.7 billion in annual revenue) tells us the sky is falling?

Well, SoonerPoll did just that. And though Oklahomans are concerned about school finance (the same SoonerPoll survey shows the Boren tax increase has strong support), they nonetheless favor educational choice:
"Educational choice gives parents the right to use tax dollars associated with their child's education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs. Some people favor educational choice because they believe that parents, not government officials, have the moral right to determine a child's path. Other people oppose educational choice because they believe it drains money from public schools and allows only a select few students to choose a different school. Which viewpoint comes closest to your own?"
  • FAVOR — parents have the moral right to choose … 51.5% 
  • OPPOSE — it drains money from public schools … 37.3% 
  • UNDECIDED … 11.2%
Looking at the results by political party, 64.1 percent of Republicans favor educational choice while 24.2 percent oppose. "These results are encouraging but not at all surprising," says Pam Pollard, state chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. "Poll after poll shows that Oklahoma Republicans favor parental choice in education. It couldn’t be any clearer in our state party platform—or, for that matter, in the new national party platform we Republicans adopted last month at the convention. There’s just nothing more basic or fundamental than the fact that parents have the moral right to shape their children’s educational future."

Among Democrats, 39.4 percent favor educational choice while 50.3 percent oppose. 

Looking at the results in the two major urban centers, in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area 58.7 percent favor educational choice while 31.4 percent oppose. In the Tulsa metropolitan area 55.9 percent favor educational choice while 34.4 percent oppose.

For more details about the survey, click here. In short, says SoonerPoll CEO Bill Shapard: “Time and time again, we've asked Oklahoma voters in a variety of ways about the concept of school choice, and a majority continue to support it.”

[Cross-posted at OCPA]

Friday, August 12, 2016

Cristo Rey coming to OKC

It's a great model serving low-income kids, and Oklahoma's tax-credit scholarship law will be a key component of the school's success.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wagoner teacher jailed after showing up at school drunk and without her pants

"A Wagoner Public Schools teacher was jailed Monday," the Tulsa World reports, "on allegations that she showed up at school under the influence of alcohol and without her pants, police said."

Oklahoma's tax-credit scholarships are providing choices

Good article by Jessica Misun in the current MetroFamily Magazine.