Tuesday, December 10, 2019
News 9 has the story.
A new publication from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that "there were measurable differences between students in public and private schools who reported being victims of any crime or theft at school in school year 2016–17. Students in public schools reported being the victims of any crime (2.2 percent) and theft (1.5 percent) at higher rates than students in private schools (0.8 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively). In addition, the rate of students reporting no victimization in private schools (99.2 percent) was higher than for public schools."
Monday, December 9, 2019
Friday, December 6, 2019
Many Christian parents "have their kids in the public schools or other educational establishments," Albert Mohler warns today, "where they are being entirely incubated in a non-Christian, if not absolutely, anti-Christian moral universe, and then they are surprised when their own kids begin to answer questions in ways that indicate they are the very products of that indoctrination. And it is happening often with such subtlety and at such a deep level, that those kids are extremely resistant to biblical truth by the time they hear it."
For decades, Oklahoma politicians vowed they could defy the laws of financial reality by giving state retirees ever-larger benefit checks without paying for those benefits, without any impact on other taxpayers, and without any impact on the rest of state government.
Rather than provide “money for nothing” to retirees, however, those politicians instead saddled Oklahomans with enormous unfunded liabilities that left current teachers and state workers with an unsecure retirement and forced the diversion of millions of dollars from schools, roads, and other needs.
There were 19 “cost of living” adjustments (COLAs) provided to state employees from 1975 to 2008, and most were approved without any funding. So how did lawmakers “pay” for those COLAs? By raiding pension assets again and again and again. It didn’t take long before Oklahoma had some of the worst-funded state pension systems in the nation. The teachers’ retirement system was in especially bad shape with a funded ratio that hovered around just 50 percent.
Thanks to several reform laws passed in the last decade, the situation has improved dramatically. One of the most significant reforms was to require full funding for benefit increases (imagine that!). But legislation filed in 2019, which could advance in 2020, would evade that requirement and provide increased retirement benefits without funding. Instead, it would raid state pensions of more than $850 million, according to estimates.
One doesn’t have to be a certified public accountant (although I am) to know where we’re headed with such legislation: back where we started.
The impact of past pension raids continues to be felt throughout the state. For one thing, lawmakers have had to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding to the existing system to shore it up. That’s money that would have otherwise gone to other needs like schools, roads, and public safety. Remember in 2018 when legislators claimed they had to raise taxes to cover expenses? Those tax increases are one logical outcome of state pension raids.
Rather than repeat a regrettable part of our history, lawmakers need to embrace real reform. That means not only admitting that pension benefits should be funded, even if that means legislators must provide less spending to other state agencies, but also overhauling the system.
Today’s workforce is highly mobile, and the 20-something who hires on as an educator or support personnel today probably won’t remain there for the next three decades. Plus, the current outdated defined-benefit plans provide employees no asset that can be passed on to help other family members or their future generations. It’s time to provide all non-hazard-duty government workers with a 401(k)-style retirement plan whose assets follow them when they leave a government job.
Oklahoma needs a modern retirement system fitted to the needs of modern workers, not a “greatest hits” rerun of the failed financial policies of the past.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Public Radio Tulsa has the story.
"A former Pocola High School teacher was sentenced to 40 years in prison for having sex with multiple students," KFSM reports.
In this new podcast, recent college graduate Tiffany Roberts discusses teaching children about gender identity and sexual orientation with Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.
"Where were the adults?" asks the victim's mom. "Why weren't they protecting my child from this kind of thing happening?"
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
"Oklahomans, in recent weeks, have been buffeted by report after report, including results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the ACT college readiness exam, and the state’s own A-F assessment of the public education system, demonstrating the abysmal state of student achievement in Oklahoma’s public schools," OCPA distinguished fellow Andrew Spiropoulos writes. "But hiding in plain sight in the A-F report was one vital, and possibly saving, fact—the extraordinary performance of many of the state's charter schools."
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
"U.S. teenagers made no significant gains on an exam taken by students around the world, and continue to trail students in Asian countries," The Wall Street Journal reports today.
Students assaulting teachers: Tulsa union boss says teachers 'really are like domestic abuse victims'
"It’s a secret many teachers aren’t comfortable talking about," KTUL reports.
“It’s the best-kept worst secret because you just found out about it. It is a huge ordeal. It is bigger than anyone knows,” said Shawna Mott-Wright with the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.
It's a secret that many teachers are hesitant to talk about—what happens when children get violent? “We just don’t talk about it,” said Mott-Wright. “It’s upsetting because we really are like domestic abuse victims.”
“There were a few times when I wasn’t sure if I was safe. [But] you have to be ready to go into that atmosphere,” said State Representative John Waldron. Waldron wasn’t hurt when he was teaching, but he said it’s not hard to find a teacher who has been. “I know someone who was attacked by an elementary school student while she was pregnant a few weeks before she gave birth to her child,” said Waldron. ...
“We’re talking about intentionally assaulting you, with the intent to hurt,” said Mott-Wright. Mott-Wright said that even though the number of physical attacks has gone down the last few years, it isn’t an accurate picture because districts self-report, and many teachers don’t want to come forward. “In our office, it’s gone up. Not a multiplication problem but an exponential problem. We have been living with this, with our teachers, over three weeks,” said Mott-Wright.