Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Most say EPIC's safety, academic quality better than their prior school

"An independent survey conducted by TPMA of Indianapolis for the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board found parents come to EPIC because of negative experiences in their prior schools and the unique opportunities online education provides," EPIC superintendent Bart Banfield writes today. The study found that nearly 40% of respondents came to EPIC because of bullying. Moreover,
Approximately 94% of TPMA’s survey respondents believe EPIC provides a safe educational environment, and nearly 60% say EPIC’s academic quality is “significantly better” than their prior school. Fewer than 1% said EPIC’s academic quality is “significantly worse.” About 80% of parents said they intend to keep their children in EPIC through graduation.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Study documents 'dramatic decrease in youth suicide' when school is not in session

With spring break upon us and possible virus-related school closures to follow, this academic paper ("Back to school blues: Seasonality of youth suicide and the academic calendar") is worth another look. It documents "a dramatic decrease in youth suicide in months when school is not in session. ... This evidence suggests that youth may face increased stress and decreased mental health when school is in session."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Former teacher says bullying in Oklahoma schools 'a very serious situation'

Ray Carter has the story.

Salina students were warned teacher 'is going to touch you, there's nothing you can do about it'

"A Salina teacher is now out of a job nearly a year after police began investigating accusations that he was inappropriately touching students," the News on 6 reports.
The attorney for the victims accuses the school of not doing anything. Prosecutors charged John Horner in January with eight counts of lewd molestation. Parents said they are frustrated with how this case was handled. ... Horner's dismissal comes nearly a year after investigators said they interviewed several students who accused him of inappropriately touching them and making unwanted comments. 
"Accusations started as far back as 2014, so he's been allowed to at least do this for five years where the girls have been warned by upperclassmen as one class graduated and the next class comes in. They've actually been warned horny Horner is going to touch you, there’s nothing you can do about it," said attorney Chase McBride.
Horner was charged with eight counts of lewd molestation back in January. McBride currently represents 10 victims and believes there could be more. "What blows our mind through this whole thing is that this man has been on the payroll—taxpayer dollars for at least a year after knowing that he is going to get charged with felonies and molesting children in the community," said McBride.
Court documents said that the school started an investigation in March of 2019 and a day later found no further investigation was needed. Then parents called police who began their own investigation, which ended in the in eight felony charges being filed. 
McBride said the school continued to pay Horner for about a year. "They've been paying him. They've been sweeping things under the rug. Since investigating this, we've had witnesses come forward the farthest back we've got at this point is 2014," said McBride McBride said Horner should've lost his teaching license and been suspended as soon as the allegation came to light. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Politicized teaching feared with Oklahoma’s ‘climate change’ standards

"The inclusion of 'climate change' material in Oklahoma's new science standards for public schools, beginning as early as middle school, has business leaders concerned classrooms could become politicized and schools weaponized against economically foundational industries," Ray Carter reports.

Setting a journalist straight on school choice

Journalists at the Enid News & Eagle are entitled to their own opinions, Corey DeAngelis writes, but not to their own facts.

Man had sex with student in Pawnee High School bathroom

"Multiple men are arrested after a child sex sting in Pawnee County," KRMG reports.
The Pawnee County Sheriff says the investigation started when a middle school student accused an older classmate of making a lewd proposal. That case led investigators to look into social media app, which lead them to the men who the sheriff says were targeting underage boys for sex. ... An affidavit shows [one of the men] had sex with a 16-year-old boy in a bathroom stall at Pawnee High School.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Duncan students accuse classmate of sexual harassment

"About 40 students at Duncan High School walked out Friday morning and demanded school administrators take action against a student accused of sexual harassment," News 9 reports.
"We are not doing a walkout just to get rid of him, but rather change it to where schools at least know that this kid was thrown out because of harassment," a Duncan High School student said on the phone. They said one of their male classmates is sexually assaulting girls. "Accusations have come out that he's been touching girls and they'll go to the office and there's not enough proof to convict him or they just don't believe them," the student said. Students are calling for more security and cameras on campus.

Former Edmond Santa Fe teacher sentenced

"A former Edmond Santa Fe teacher was sentenced Wednesday after entering a guilty plea for inappropriate behavior with a minor," the Edmond Sun reports.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Chouteau school employee accused of having sex with student

"Mayes County prosecutors have charged a former Chouteau Schools employee with rape after they say she was having sex with a 16-year-old high school student," the News on 6 reports.
Only News On 6 was there as 41-year-old Jennifer Frazier turned herself into the Mayes County jail on Wednesday after being charged with two counts of rape, as well as one count of child pornography. Court documents say Frazier was working in the same classroom as the 16-year-old boy at Chouteau High School until the district moved her to the elementary school after the allegations surfaced.

Former Wellston student claims she told school officials about inappropriate relationship in 2017

"A former student at Wellston Public Schools says she knew about an alleged inappropriate relationship between a former teacher and student in 2017," KFOR reports.
In February, Robert Blankenship, a former Wellston teacher, was charged with sexual assault of a former Wellston student. ... A different student says she told the school about the relationship in 2017. She said, "Everybody knew that something was happening with that student and that teacher."

She says as the accusations spread, the school’s principal called her in. "She just told me that she didn’t believe me, that I was lying, threatened to kick me off the cheer team for it, told me I was trying to ruin a teacher’s career with no proof," said the student. Three years later, the proof came in the form of court documents filed in Lincoln County. Blankenship is now charged with sexually assaulting a former student in a locked classroom.

"They didn’t talk to him, they didn’t talk to her. They just told whoever came to them, 'No, you’re lying,' and ended it there," said the student who reported the incident.

News 4 talked to Wellston school officials by phone. They first told News 4 the claims didn’t happen, but moments later, said they did know about the accusations. They say the case was investigated, but they found no evidence the accusations were true at the time.

News 4 asked the school how they investigated, but no details were given. We also asked if the school reported the accusations to DHS and were told they had no record of any reports. Under Oklahoma state law, the school would have had a responsibility to report the accusations.

'Settled' science often becomes propaganda

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

In the famed 1925 Scopes “monkey” trial in Tennessee, defense attorney Clarence Darrow told the court it was witnessing “as brazen and as bold an attempt to destroy learning as was ever made in the Middle Ages, and the only difference is we have not provided that they shall be burned at the stake.”

What learning was Darrow defending? Access to a textbook that taught children that Darwinian evolution proved there are “five races or varieties of man” and the “highest race type of all” is “the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.” No surprise, the textbook author relegated blacks to the bottom tier.

As a black man with four daughters, this example shows why I am so skeptical when political activists claim “settled science” justifies their viewpoints, and why I am among those concerned by the State Board of Education’s approval of new science standards that explicitly reference evolution and climate change. The new standards could produce less valid instruction than classroom indoctrination.

Darwinian evolution remains controversial today not because people are “anti-science,” but because the theory has been used to justify institutional racism, government-mandated eugenics, and other forms of state-sanctioned prejudice. When people insist man descended from monkeys, they’re often quick to say certain people are more closely related to monkeys than others, as the Scopes trial illustrated.

Granted, state education officials downplayed Darwinian evolution even as they stressed explicit references to evolution. Essentially, they suggested schools will teach genetics and species modification. But those topics are already covered in Oklahoma schools, so why stress the word “evolution” in standards?

Today, racist attacks rely less on Darwinian theory, but one doesn’t have to search long to find examples of the theory being used to bash Christians or other people of faith in the classroom.

The thin line between science and political propaganda is also obvious with the inclusion of “climate change” in academic standards. While associated lessons may focus on carbon dioxide emissions and estimated impact on climate, they too often devolve into unhinged attacks on farming and oilfield jobs—in other words, most of Oklahoma’s economy. If you doubt it, note the rhetoric of Swedish teenager and climate-change activist Greta Thunberg.

Even worse, climate-change activism literally endangers lives. Calvin Beisner, founder of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, recently told an Oklahoma audience that raising people out of grinding poverty in third-world countries requires “access to abundant, affordable, reliant energy.” But global-warming advocates often argue for the elimination of affordable fossil fuels that can free millions from disease and death.

Political extremism doesn’t belong in public schools, but Oklahoma’s new science standards may creak open that door, which is why parents should be given greater school choice than a building assigned based on geography, not quality. Those who insist extremism can’t enter the classroom are ignoring an important aspect of education: the lessons of history.

Norman North High School student brings gun to school

"Police say a Norman North High School student is in serious trouble after bringing a gun to school," KOKH reports.