Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Luther band director resigns amid allegations

News 9 has the story.

Jeffersonian Project supports charter school expansion

[Below is the text of an issue alert distributed yesterday by The Jeffersonian Project, the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council.]
To:          Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives 
From:     The Jeffersonian Project 
Re:          Please Support HB 1696

This week, the Oklahoma House will consider House Bill 1696, which allows the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa to authorize charter schools. Each municipality may only authorize a charter school inside their own inner-city school district and within their own city limits. This bill is specific to Oklahoma City and Tulsa public school districts and provides students in some of the lowest-performing schools additional school choice opportunities.

Any charter authorized by Oklahoma City or Tulsa is subject to a veto by the people of the school district. The bill is permissive only, and the cities do not have to exercise the new power. All potential charters are still subject to the reforms and accountability measures recently included in Senate Bill 782, which expanded charter opportunities outside Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but did not significantly expand charter opportunities in the inner cities. 
The Jeffersonian Project recognizes there should be a variety of institutions that can authorize the establishment of charter schools and that independent but publicly accountable multiple authorizing authorities—such as the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa—contribute to the health and growth of strong public charter schools and thriving economies.

Therefore, the purpose of this bill is to establish the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa as potential charter school authorizers in addition to other authorizers already defined in law.

Additionally, this bill provides the people of a community with ultimate oversight by providing the authority to fully veto a charter. There is no fiscal impact to HB 1696. HB 1696 passed the Senate on April 22 by a vote of 38 to 6. 
In accordance with the model policies of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Jeffersonian Project supports HB 1696.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oklahoma mother raising bullying awareness after student attempts suicide

This photo, taken Jan. 24, 2012, shows a billboard in Edmond, Okla.

"A little girl's on the road to recovery after trying to take her life in the walls of her own middle school," Adam Snider reports for KFOR. "Her mother says it was bullying that pushed her daughter too far."

Every last dime

Remarking on the amicus brief Oklahoma's public school administrators filed in support of the lawsuit seeking to wipe out the state’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program for Children with Disabilities, law professor Andrew C. Spiropoulos says they "have let a narrow and poorly conceived view of their self-interest cloud both their judgment and conscience."
If you read their brief, it’s clear that what they are most concerned about isn't the constitution or the welfare of the children in the program. Their first sentence of their argument is a complaint that the cost of the scholarships is deducted from the total amount of state public education funding. What really matters to them is making sure they swoop up every last dime of taxpayer money. 
What's interesting about their argument is that, despite their obsession with funding levels, they never mention how much the scholarship program costs. This year, out of nearly 700,000 public school students, only 384 receive Henry scholarships. ... Henry scholarships aren't a burden—they’re a rounding error. Although the cost to schools is insignificant, the benefit to the recipient families and the state is too great to be measured. ... 
The school leaders must, and do, argue that the state receives no benefit when it assists parents to obtain the best education for their children. So when a family, whose child was bullied at the public school, frequently leaving her in tears and dreading the day, can now afford a new school where she laughs and learns, our state doesn’t benefit. So when a child, who in her previous school remained silent and impassive, now comes to life, makes friends and reads beyond grade level, the state received no value for its money. 
Fortunately, the rest of us know that we are all better off when the government empowers parents to find the right school for their children. 
I encourage you to read his entire column here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The most popular TED talk of all time

Sir Ken Robinson's talk has more than 32 million views so far.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mid-Del school bus driver arrested after multiple accidents

"The driver of a Midwest City-Del City school bus was arrested Monday on complaints of driving under the influence of drugs and leaving the scene of multiple accidents," The Oklahoman reports.

Choice spurs public school improvement

"We're in a different era in education," Jeff Eakins, the incoming superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools recently told the Tampa Bay Times.
The earth underneath us has shifted. We're not the only game in town. Twenty-five years ago the Hillsborough County Public Schools were the only game in town. Right now parents every single day, they have the choice that they can make and we have to know that, and they can make it with one bad experience. We have to make sure that the parents who choose to send their kids to our schools, that that choice is trusted and that we reciprocate that trust.
This, of course, makes perfect sense. Competition forces everyone to bring their "A" game. As a Muskogee Public Schools official said in 2010, the enactment of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program should serve as a challenge for public education "to continue meeting the needs of the students and provide good services."

What we know instinctively and anecdotally is also borne out by the empirical evidence. "Twenty-three empirical studies (including all methods) have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools," Dr. Greg Forster found. "Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oklahoma's premise: private schools at public expense

"A program that pays the tuition at any Oklahoma public college or university for qualifying students took center stage at the state Capitol this week," Kathryn McNutt reports in a front-page story today in The Oklahoman ("Oklahoma's Promise scholarship program important to state's future, supporters say").

State Rep. Justin Wood, R-Shawnee, is featured in the article as one of the program's notable success stories. Rep. Wood rightly says Oklahoma’s Promise is a "life-changing intervention in a young person's life."

The program also pays for a portion of tuition at private colleges and universities. In other words, Oklahoma's Promise is, among other things, a private-school voucher program. As it should be. Restricting higher-education subsidies "to schooling obtained at a state-administered institution cannot be justified on any grounds," Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said. "Any subsidy should be granted to individuals to be spent at institutions of their own choosing." Institutions such as Oklahoma Baptist University, for example, and St. Gregory's University.

And it's not just Oklahoma's Promise. Consider also the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant (OTEG), which helps kids attend private schools at public expense. It was created in 2003 by a Democratic legislature and Democratic Gov. Brad Henry.

Indeed, "for many years, students have been assisted by a variety of state-funded scholarship programs that provide funding for students to attend private, religious institutions of higher education," Oklahoma Independent Colleges and Universities points out.
These programs include the state's Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant program (OTAG), the Academic Scholars program, and the Oklahoma's Promise scholarship program. These aid programs differ somewhat from OTEG in that they can be used at both public and private institutions, but the principle behind all the programs is the same — the state has created and funded a program for the public purpose of benefiting individual students. The institutions that provide the services that benefit these students are compensated by the state for the valuable consideration they have provided the students and the state.
These higher education vouchers are good public policy. We should expand them to encompass all higher education spending: Oklahoma policymakers should simply fund students, not institutions.

Moreover, we should do the same in the pre-college years. After all, too many Oklahoma children are trapped in "a system that’s not working" (to quote former Gov. Frank Keating and former state treasurer Scott Meacham). Only a little more than a third of Oklahoma's ACT test-takers earn a college-ready score in math, the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative reminds us — which is "especially disappointing as this test is generally only taken by the students in the state with an interest in college." For untold thousands of Oklahoma children, their "life-changing intervention" needs to come much sooner.

To their great credit, policymakers provide public funds for 18-year-olds to attend private schools in Shawnee and throughout the state. They should also provide public funds for 17-year-olds (and 7-year-olds) to attend private schools in Shawnee and throughout the state.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Campus radicalism points up the need for educational choice

The late Milton Friedman believed that restricting higher-education subsidies "to schooling obtained at a state-administered institution cannot be justified on any grounds. Any subsidy should be granted to individuals to be spent at institutions of their own choosing."

He's right. Oklahoma's college students should be given a voucher redeemable not only at public colleges and universities, but at nonpublic ones as well. After all, why should our political leaders discriminate against education obtained at private institutions? Why should Oklahoma's overwhelmingly center-right taxpayers subsidize the study of Chicana lesbian literature at my alma mater in Norman, for example, but not equally subsidize the study of the American founding at Oklahoma Wesleyan University?

These questions come to mind as we continue to watch campus radicalism turn higher education into "a bizarre, Orwellian simulacrum of itself." The University of Oklahoma faculty Senate did its part for the cause this week, discussing a resolution on "diversity and inclusion" which will be voted on at a future meeting.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teachers, unions weren't always hostile to test-based accountability

"Many teachers and their unions have taken strong public positions against any use of student test scores in teacher evaluations," Peter Cunningham writes ("Unions Used to Embrace Grading Teachers with Tests, Until They Didn't"). "Until recently, however, many were open to the idea, which raises some critical questions:
  • Can teacher quality be effectively evaluated without some objective measure of student success?
  • If teachers aren’t accountable for boosting student learning as measured by valid assessments, what are they accountable for?
  • If test scores and student growth are ruled out of teacher evaluations, what factors should be considered to get the most effective teachers in front of the kids who need them most?
  • Finally, will resistance to test-based accountability undermine their case for more resources and their desire for more autonomy and respect?

Top-down regulations are 'a pale imitation of direct accountability to parents'

"It is inappropriate to impose an accountability system designed to regulate a monopoly on a market," Jason Bedrick writes today. 
Private schools are directly accountable to parents, who have the ability to vote with their feet if the school fails to meet their needs. By contrast, public schools are accountable to politicians and bureaucrats, not parents. Indeed, many low-income families have no financially viable options besides their assigned district school. Without the crucial feedback loop that direct accountability to parents provides, states and localities (and even the feds) have imposed numerous regulations to improve quality, generally with little success. Unfortunately, these top-down regulations have become synonymous with “accountability” when they are but a pale imitation of direct accountability to parents.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Public education 'not something housed in your school building'

Excellent observations from a teacher at Epic Charter School:
I have a beef with public schooling. It is not something housed in your school building. It is housed in your heart and mind. I dislike greatly the competition between schools and districts. I am not talking about the Jenks v Union rivalries. I abhor that there has to be a huge fight between types of schools. I WORK FOR A CHARTER. I said it. I do.

In the consultant and educational leader circles, which I often associate with, there is a huge line drawn in the sand about how the teacher in the traditional public school has to be better because they have far more dire circumstances to overcome. I saw 4 articles in #oklaed this week dealing with charters and school choice.  
This argument infuriates me because in the very next conversation “they” wish for a more direct route to teaching; they want less barriers and more pay. In my school, I have less barriers and if I do my job well, I get more pay. 
Sidebar: we are an open charter with nearly 5,000 students in all 77 counties of this great state. We take them all.
Read the whole thing here.