Tuesday, July 17, 2018

One in three parents fear for their child's physical safety at school

"One in three parents fear for their child's physical safety at school, a sharp increase from 2013 when just 12% said they were fearful," according to the latest PDK poll.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Does a Justice Kavanaugh mean that Blaine Amendments are history?

"It is my hope that a court with Kavanaugh on the bench will finally excise Blaine Amendments from state constitutions," Mike McShane writes. "Their legacy of bigotry has lived long enough."

Worthwhile reasons to move school elections

"Put simply, 'local control' of schools is as much myth as reality," The Oklahoman's editorial board notes today, "an argument bolstered by voting participation in school elections."
In a recent analysis of state boards and commissions, Byron Schlomach, economist and director of the conservative 1889 Institute, highlighted why this is problematic for good policy.

“Because of the outsized role that insiders have in the election of school board members, school boards at times appear to be more interested in serving the interest of the insiders rather than the interests of parents and taxpayers,” Schlomach wrote.

This was apparent when many school boards voted to close school for two weeks this year to let teachers engage in political lobbying, with pay. In many districts, that decision was made without consulting the thousands of student families who faced “great inconvenience and cost to parents and educational detriment to students,” Schlomach notes.

Why did school boards ignore parents? Because the school board members owed their election largely to school employees, not parents.

We have argued for moving school board elections to higher-turnout dates to increase citizen input. Otherwise, until school-election participation improves, lawmakers can legitimately claim to reflect the education views of their communities as much or more than do school board members, because a far higher share of local citizens voted for the legislator.
OCPA has written on this topic for years, and survey research from SoonerPoll (2015) and from Cor Strategies (2017) has found that Oklahomans favor moving local school board elections to November.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Oklahoma’s tools of secular selfishness

It's alarming "when religious leaders make themselves tools of secular selfishness in the name of, yet to the detriment of, better schools for kids," Greg Forster writes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Educator candidates ‘should be examined with heightened skepticism’


"Oklahoma’s education blob—school unions, education schools, and their allies—is becoming unusually shameless in its determination to vote itself another taxpayer bailout," Greg Forster wrote two years ago. As we're beginning to see a new batch of "teacher caucus" stories about educators seeking to become legislators, Forster's observations remain relevant and worth re-reading. Journalists would do well to exhibit a tad more of that famous skepticism they pride themselves on.
A press corps with any self-respect or sense of professional responsibility would ask the blob questions like these: Why have previous increases in school budgets and teacher salaries failed to produce educational improvements? ... How much spending—give us a dollar amount—would be enough to make you say spending is sufficient and any problems that persist are the responsibility of the schools? 
As Pew, Gallup, Quinnipiac, and many others have made clear, Republicans don't particularly trust the so-called mainstream media. (Nearly three in four Oklahoma Republicans trust the news media "not at all" or "not very much," and among conservative Republicans that number is doubtless even more startling.) And even though most reporters probably assume that higher taxes and more government spending on education are warranted, they should strive for fairness in their reporting. As Forster says:
Those who demand that government spend more money on themselves should be examined with heightened skepticism. The public interest (in this case, the education of children) should be clearly distinguished from private interests (budgets, salaries, and home prices). And policy should be designed, broadly and in the details, to serve the public interest only. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Muldrow schools, teacher sued over bullying incident

"A former student at Muldrow High School has filed a lawsuit against the Muldrow Public Schools and a teacher in connection with an alleged bullying incident that occurred on Sept. 29, 2016," Sequoyah County Times editor Roy Faulkenberry reports.
The lawsuit stems from an incident on Sept. 29, 2016, when “a student who had previously been reported to administrators by George Brown's parents as a person who had been bullying George Brown, challenged George Brown to a fight on the Muldrow High School grounds in a pavilion with a concrete floor,” according to the petition.

The petition said Brown fell victim to “severe, pervasive and abusive harassment, bullying, isolation, criticism, mocking and physical assault,” beginning in August 2016.

According to the information filed in the petition, Brown and his parents had reported the incidents of bullying to Muldrow Principal Steve Page.

“When the harassment and bullying behavior commenced in the fall of 2016, the District did not have a bullying policy nor harassment/bullying forms available for Brown or his parents to submit. Brown's parents made the reports directly and verbally to Brown's principal,” the petition said.

It's alleged in the petition that on Sept. 29, 2016, that during a lunch break, the reported bully, who is identified as Julie Bosher's son, Brooks Boshers, told his mother in the witness of several students that he was going to “assault and batter George Brown at the pavilion.”

At that time, the lawsuit says Julie Boshers was a teacher at Muldrow Schools and was on duty to ensure student safety. When her son informed her of his intentions, Julie Boshers' response was, “ do what you have to do.”

Brooks Boshers was reported to have proceeded to the pavilion on school grounds and asked his mother, who was the teacher on duty, to hold his things. Boshers then allegedly body slammed Brown onto a concrete slab and punched him in the back of his head.

“Defendant Julie Boshers, mother of the bully, took no action to try and prevent or stop the student bully from assaulting and brutally battering George Brown. Even though she was equipped with communications equipment, she made no attempts to call for assistance or help, the lawsuit said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jindal: 'Choice is the ultimate form of accountability'

In an excellent column today in The Wall Street Journal ("The Moral Logic of School Choice"), former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal takes issue with the argument that schools which participate in school-choice programs should be subject to tougher government oversight. "[T]his logic essentially forces private schools that take vouchers to import the bureaucracy that parents were fleeing in the first place," he observes.
The U.S. has purposefully adopted a deferential, though not absolute, attitude toward parental rights. The government gives parents wide leeway to make choices about their children’s health, diets, and religious practices. Regulators interfere narrowly only in extreme cases to prevent permanent harm, and even then parents have recourse to the judicial system. Shouldn’t parents get the same respect when deciding how their children should be educated?
Indeed, "choice is the ultimate form of accountability, and letting parents pick their children’s schools is valuable in itself, irrespective of outcomes," Jindal reminds us. "Parents’ decisions must therefore be respected even when they are unconventional."

Monday, June 25, 2018

Districts' policies show need for school choice in Oklahoma

The Oklahoman's editorial board cites the latest polling data here.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What kind of safety?

School shootings are horrible, Joel Belz reminds us, but they affect relatively few schools. Meanwhile, millions of parents should be concerned with their children's moral and spiritual safety. "Don't be sidetracked," Belz says.
The very worst result of all this focus on physical safety would be to forget the intellectual and academic devastation that has beset our culture. SAT scores are full of bullet holes, and so are basic skills tests. The last generation’s misdirected priorities are leaving us with a populace unable—or unwilling—to read. They’re often unable to calculate—and unable to think critically or productively about the educational mess they find themselves in. 
Ultimately, though, parents should be most frightened about their children’s spiritual and moral safety. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

It is no accident that the first segment of the American population to desert the public schools in significant numbers over the last 50 years was made up of evangelical Christians—who sensed the spiritual violence and moral mayhem occurring there.
So millions of Americans, driven by these various fears for the safety of their children, have sought to make a prudent choice. The challenge now is that people will be tempted to be preoccupied with the physical safety rather than the threats that, while less noisy, are potentially the most destructive.
Only three or four schools in America—and I do not use the word ‘only’ in a casual way—have been terrorized during the last few months by ultra-equipped gunmen. Those have been devastating events, whose repetition we should do all in our power to prevent. But let’s never forget the devastation that continues to go on in the hearts and souls of millions of students in America’s supposedly safe schools.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Covington teacher's aide charged with sex crimes, furnishing alcohol to minor

The Enid News & Eagle has the story.

Is school choice the black choice?