Friday, December 8, 2017

OCU economists: School choice tax credit saves the state money

"The state budget saves $1.24 for every dollar of tax credit issued to the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, according to an Oklahoma City University study released Friday," The Journal Record reported October 6.

The study is available here. The state's largest newspaper has an excellent editorial here. OCPA president Jonathan Small discusses it here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

‘Children are more than test scores’

"Children are more than test scores," the Duncan Public Schools superintendent reminds us. "Test scores are a small snapshot of a school’s performance and not the only measure of a school’s overall impact on a student’s life."

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Choctaw-Nicoma Park school employee arrested for child porn

News 9 has the story.

Hofmeister visits Robert E. Lee Early Childhood Center

The Durant Democrat has the story.

Oklahoma schools use ‘seclusion rooms’

"A controversial practice of shutting children alone in small closet-like rooms to control their behavior has led Oklahoma parents to withdraw their children from school, seek police intervention and take legal action," Jennifer Palmer reports for Oklahoma Watch.
School officials give the rooms benign-sounding names like “blue room,” “cool-down room” or “de-escalation room” and say they’re intended to provide a healthy temporary separation. But many parents and child advocates say the practice is like being locked in a closet, and some liken it to solitary confinement in prison. Students placed in the room often have special needs. 
One father says his special-needs son was placed in a closet for timeout a dozen times in the first two weeks of classes at a Mustang elementary school. In the small Coal County district of Cottonwood, parents say the school placed their son in the narrow “blue room” multiple times for not minding his teacher when he was just 3 years old. Lawsuits have been filed over schools in Cottonwood, Ardmore, Edmond, and likely elsewhere.
Read the whole thing here.

Tax reform a big win for homeschoolers

Monday, December 4, 2017

Public education is political

"[E]verything about public education is political," OEA president Alicia Priest pointed out last year. "The reforms, the elected school board, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the standards, your salary and benefits, the textbooks that are approved for your use—ALL politically driven decisions."

She's right. "[E]ducation has always been political," high school teacher Zachary Wright points out today ("It's Non-Negotiable. We Have to Teach Social Justice In Our Schools.").
When a nation has within its DNA laws regulating who can learn, with whom one can learn, and where one can learn, then the idea that a school ought not engage in the political realm reeks of forced naïveté. 
As long as our school systems are funded within halls of state legislatures that maintain 21st-century houses of education for zip codes of wealth, and crumbling school houses for zip codes of poverty, then it is disingenuous at best to assert that schools exists outside the realm of political discourse.

Friday, December 1, 2017

NEA spending not successful everywhere

"The National Education Association just filed its 2016-2017 financial disclosure with the U.S. Department of Labor—and it is clear that the nation’s largest teachers’ union is spending even more to maintain its influence in education policy," RiShawn Biddle writes ("NEA's $151 Million Influence Spree").
But the union’s efforts didn’t succeed everywhere. ... NEA also failed in Oklahoma, where it gave $750,000 to Oklahoma’s Children Our Future, which unsuccessfully pushed Question 779, which would have levied a one percent sales tax for additional school funding.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

OSBI investigating student sexual assault at McClain County school

News 9 has the story.

The under-reported story of non-teaching bloat

Oklahoma's "panhandling teacher," Teresa Danks, continues to get a lot of publicity. Whenever I see the latest story, I'm reminded of an email exchange I had with her earlier this year.
From: Brandon Dutcher
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:26 AM
To: Danks, Teresa
Subject: TPS classroom supplies
Hello Mrs. Danks (cc: Sara Whaley),  
I saw your story on FOX 23. Given that TPS employs more non-teachers (3,258) than teachers (2,377), it’s pretty clear that the money isn’t getting to the classroom. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the TPS organizational chart, but it really is a sight to behold. TPS employs 22 individuals with salaries in excess of $100,000—several of whom have the job title “executive assistant.”
The surprising truth is that, even when adjusted for inflation, TPS per-student spending in 2016 ($12,180) is only down slightly from a decade ago ($12,261). But the money hasn’t gone to teacher salaries or to classroom supplies. Indeed, using data that the Oklahoma State Department of Education reports to the U.S. Department of Education, economist Benjamin Scafidi points out that between 1993 and 2014, TPS enrollment decreased by 3 percent and the number of teachers decreased by 4 percent—but non-teaching staff increased by 147 percent
I think it would make sense for policymakers to redirect some of the current money towards the classroom.
Brandon Dutcher
Senior Vice President
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Inc.
1401 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
She replied the next day, thanking me for the information and asking if she could call on me in the future to discuss it in more detail. Regrettably, she never has.

Mrs. Danks (and, more importantly, journalists) would do well to take a look at Oklahoma's non-teaching staffing surge.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Amid safety concerns, former Douglass coach terminated

"The former head football coach at Douglass Mid-High School has been fired because of an undisclosed impropriety," The Oklahoman reports.
"The State Board of Education and Oklahoma State Department of Education consider student safety paramount," Brad Clark, general counsel for the state Board of Education, said in a statement Tuesday. "After receiving a report that student safety had been jeopardized at Douglass Mid-High School, the State Board acted to suspend Mr. Alexander's teaching certificate on August 24, 2017, pending a full investigation and resolution thereof."

As OKC teacher returns to classroom, district says safety ‘is our top priority’

"A teacher accused of 'inappropriate conduct' is scheduled to return to the classroom Monday, nearly two months after being suspended with pay," The Oklahoman reports.
Beth Harrison, the district's chief communications officer, declined to disclose the name of the teacher nor the nature of the allegation, which was reported by students. "OKCPS investigated the allegations and took appropriate action," Harrison said in a statement. "Now, the decision has been made for the teacher to return to full duty effective Monday, November 27, 2017. As always, the safety of OKCPS students and staff is our top priority."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

OKC student attacks teacher at school

"An investigation is underway after police say a 12-year-old student attacked a teacher at a school in Oklahoma City," KSWO reports.
According to authorities, the 12-year-old suffers from a behavioral disorder and had refused to wear his school uniform. According to court documents, he punched his teacher in the side of the face before punching and kicking out glass windows and ripping out a water fountain. 
A police report says the teacher was unable to restrain the student due to a district policy. "During this rampage the kid was on, when he broke one of the windows, he sustained a severe cut on the calf of one of his legs. That basically brought this action to an end,” Sgt. Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department explained.