Wednesday, January 22, 2020

OEA membership slide continues

OEA membership, already down 44 percent from 1993 to 2017, fell another 2 percent in 2018 to 18,725, Mike Brake writes.

Felony arrest warrant issued for Brushy girls' coach

"Gregg 'Chooch' McCoy, 46, of Sallisaw was charged with two felony counts related to improper conduct with a student at Brushy Public School," KXMX reports.

TPS police investigating threats

"Tulsa Public Schools police are investigating an alleged social media threat against Will Rogers junior high and high schools," KWGS reports.

Salina teacher arrested, accused of molestation

"A Salina, Oklahoma teacher was arrested and faces accusations of molestation," KJRH reports.
John Q. Horner, a teacher at Salina Middle School, was arrested last week on eight counts of lewd molestation, court records show. The affidavit shows in March of 2019, a Salina Middle School student came forward with accusations of being touched inappropriately by a teacher. According to the affidavit, the investigator interviewed a total of 10 students, whose ages were 14 years or younger, except two, that were 16-18 years old and were talking about the things that happened when they were in middle school.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Assignment asks Mustang students to analyze Trump's lies

"A metro classroom’s curriculum was questioned after a recent assignment caused outrage amongst some parents," KFOR reports. "The assignment asked students to analyze President Trump’s 'lies' to the American people. The school has since admitted the assignment showed political bias."

Friday, January 17, 2020

Porter cellphone video incident under investigation

"An investigation is underway into a Friday incident at Porter Consolidated Schools that involved a secretly recorded cellphone video that was distributed on social media," the Wagoner County American-Tribune reports. "Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott has confirmed that a report was made that one student covertly recorded another student’s genitalia in a restroom and dispersed that information via social media."

'Swing, swing hit his head,' Sand Springs students say

"A Sand Springs mother is outraged after she said another boy attacked her son in class, and the school suspended both boys," the News on 6 reports.
That mother said other students watched and recorded the fight on their phones but didn't help her son. 
"I wanted to throw up,” Joy Turner said. That's how Turner felt after seeing the video of her son being punched and hit by another student in class Tuesday in the Sand Springs Central Ninth Grade Center. "He was attacked," she said. ... 
"Swing, swing hit his head," you could hear students saying. "It's a horrible video. If you have anyone you love, you never want to see them beaten like that," Turner said. Turner said the school told her there was supposed to be a substitute teacher around, but that person wasn't in the room. She said her son suffered bruises and his injuries caused him to throw up several times.

Sand Springs police said they took a report and are investigating.

Funding doesn't explain Oklahoma's education woes

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

In recent years, status-quo forces have described Oklahoma’s 2009 per-pupil funding level as a goal for state spending and argued that the slight reduction in per-pupil appropriations experienced following 2009 is to blame for the state’s education problems.

Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, is the latest example of this pattern. Provenzano told The Oklahoman she opposes making the state superintendent a gubernatorial appointee, and implied the focus should be simply on spending increases.

“The state of education in Oklahoma, and the work that we’re going to have to do to even get it back to where it once was, is a direct result of severe underfunding by the state Legislature for well over a decade,” Provenzano said.

If spending equals better results, then 2009 should be a high-water mark for educational outcomes in the state. It’s not.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the “nation’s report card,” shows fourth grade reading and math scores in 2009 were basically the same as in 2019.

In reading, NAEP found just 28 percent of Oklahoma fourth-graders read at grade level or better in 2009. In 2019, the test found 29 percent read at grade level.

Put simply, 2009 levels of spending generated the same basic results as 2019 spending. That doesn’t fit the narrative of those who want no changes in Oklahoma schools’ oversight or expectations.

Neither does the fact that the 20-percent increase in Oklahoma school appropriations over the last two years has had no notable impact on outcomes. Instead, academic results declined in 2019 on NAEP, state academic tests, and the ACT college-entrance exam.

Also contrary to the “only spending matters” crowd, the biggest improvement in outcomes occurred even as education appropriations declined slightly. In 2015, NAEP found 33 percent of fourth graders read at grade level or better.

One reason that reading outcomes improved in 2015 even as per-pupil spending was at a standstill or declining slightly is that lawmakers raised expectations. A law in force at that time ended social promotion and required students to repeat the third grade if they read at a first-grade level or lower. (That law has since been watered down and outcomes have fallen as a result.)

Money matters, but government structure, accountability, and academic expectations matter too. Under Oklahoma’s current system, gubernatorial candidates from both parties campaign on education issues, but their ability to implement their vision is hampered by their lack of authority over the Department of Education.

Giving the governor authority to appoint a state superintendent will guarantee direct accountability. If things go wrong in Oklahoma schools, the governor will be on the hot seat. Under our current system, no one is really in charge.

Ask yourself: Which system do you think is most likely to generate better academic outcomes? The answer is obvious.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Pawnee High School student arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot principal

"The Pawnee County Sheriff's Office arrested an 18-year-old Tuesday for allegedly threatening to shoot the high school principal," KTUL reports.

Student suspended after fight at Madill High School

"At least one of the students involved in a fight caught on video at Madill High School has been suspended," KXII reports.

Former Checotah schools employee charged with sexual battery

"A former Checotah Public Schools Information Technology specialist faces multiple charges after he allegedly filmed himself masturbating inside a school and touched a 17-year-old student," the Muskogee Phoenix reports.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

There's no way to force teachers to do what they don’t want to do

"Oklahoma’s elementary schools are almost exclusively using a scientifically discredited approach to reading," Greg Forster writes.
Unfortunately, decades’ worth of efforts nationwide to educate, cajole, bribe, and finally bully recalcitrant schools into using methods that are supported by evidence have a track record of total and uninterrupted failure. The only option with a reasonable prospect of success is to empower parents to take their students to schools or tutoring services that actually want to teach them properly.

Stitt wants to expand successful school-choice program

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt visits with students at Crossover Preparatory Academy.

A successful school-choice program is changing lives in Tulsa, Ray Carter reports (“Tax-credit scholarship program could shape north Tulsa’s future”).

Philip Abode, who helped found Crossover Preparatory Academy in north Tulsa, is working to change not just education statistics but the future of the community itself. The school's mission statement declares that Crossover Prep "is committed to restoring our community by developing educated, godly men who love north Tulsa."

Gov. Kevin Stitt, OCPA president Jonathan Small, and other leaders visited the school yesterday. 
OCPA president Jonathan Small visits with students.
The governor told Crossover students that “God has a special plan and a purpose for each one of you” and urged them to take advantage of the opportunities before them and understand that their actions will impact their lives for years.
“It is the choices that you make that determine your future and your destiny,” Stitt said. “I may be looking at a future governor out here or a business leader—or whatever God’s put in your heart to accomplish, you can do it.”

Stitt supports raising the cap on the tax-credit scholarship program, and has said it makes “a lot of sense to me” and is “something we can get across the finish line.”

Visiting with Crossover officials, Stitt reiterated his support. “We’re going to be working on that cap,” he said.

Abode hopes the governor and lawmakers succeed. He noted nearly 100 percent of students at Crossover qualify for tax-credit scholarships, and all students at the school participate in the free-and-reduced lunch program. “Our school,” Abode said, “doesn’t exist without the tax-credit scholarships.”