Saturday, January 30, 2010

You’re not doin’ fine, Oklahoma

I realize a new state law will help alleviate the problem somewhat, but man this is embarrassing.

$10,257 per pupil

That's how much Oklahoma public schools are spending. I urge you to see for yourself.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An education lottery that's actually worth a damn

'Fiscal crises demand efficiency in education'

Adam B. Schaeffer reminds us today that school choice saves money.

With no end in sight to Oklahoma's budget crunch -- and with the possibility of SQ 744 exacerbating our problems -- it's a truth Oklahoma policymakers need to internalize.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gov. Henry says nope to HOPE

Last month New York's Democrat Governor, David Paterson, expressed frustration with the education establishment in his state. "Because what these school districts and unions and otherwise have said: 'We aren't special interests, we're extra special. We're supposed to get all the money and everybody else can just divide up the crumbs.' ... It's clear to me they don't care about anybody but themselves."

Oklahoma's Democrat Governor, Brad Henry, is unlikely to say something quite that confrontational (as I wrote five years ago, Henry "seems to have a well-balanced, almost judicial, temperament"), but he does recognize that the teacher-union-backed SQ 744 is truly a bad idea. As The Oklahoman noted today in a house editorial:
Henry said he has no plans to get active in the opposition campaign but isn’t ruling it out. That’s a big statement from a governor who has spent much of his two terms fighting for better teacher pay and benefits and championed higher academic standards. "I suspect right now that the initiative will not pass," he said. "If it looks like it has momentum and may pass, I may speak out more publicly than I already have."

I wish I could share the governor's optimism about 744's prospects -- a new Tulsa World poll shows 61 percent of Oklahomans favor the idea while only 23 percent oppose -- but I am glad he's on the record in opposition to the so-called HOPE initiative.

Now for those of you keeping score at home, here's a list of prominent public-education supporters who have expressed opposition to SQ 744: Gov. Brad Henry; Lt. Gov. Jari Askins; Attorney General Drew Edmondson; economist Larkin Warner; state Rep. Scott Inman (who has been chosen by House Democrats as their next leader designate); state Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs); former state Rep. Ryan McMullen (D-Burns Flat); Gov. Henry's hometown newspaper, The Shawnee News-Star; Tulsa World editorial writer Wayne Greene; and the president of the Oklahoma City affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another public-education booster opposes SQ 744

Today in the Tulsa World, editorial writer Wayne Greene makes a persuasive case against SQ 744.

Mr. Greene is but the latest addition to a growing list of prominent public-education supporters who are voicing opposition to SQ 744, the so-called HOPE initiative. Others saying nope to HOPE include:
Am I forgetting anyone? If so, please leave a comment. In any case, the list is only going to grow, so check back frequently.

Friday, January 22, 2010

School choice and the black vote

There are plenty of black voters, Thomas Sowell points out today ('How Republicans Can Win the Black Vote'), who share Republicans' values and concerns.
They want their children to get a decent education, which they are unlikely to get so long as public schools are a monopoly run for the benefit of the teachers’ unions, instead of for the education of the children. Democrats are totally in hock to the teachers’ unions, which means that Republicans have a golden opportunity to go after the votes of black parents by connecting the dots and exposing one of the key reasons for bad education in inner cities and the bad consequences that follow.

But when have you ever heard a Republican candidate get up and hammer the teachers’ unions for blocking every attempt to give parents—black or white—the choice of where to send their children?

The teachers’ unions are going to be against the Republicans, whether Republicans hammer them or keep timidly quiet. Why not talk straight with black voters about the dire consequences of the public-school monopoly that the teachers’ unions and the Democrats protect at all costs, even though many private and public-charter schools—notably the KIPP schools in various states—have achieved remarkable success with low-income and minority youngsters?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eternal vigilance

There are some Oklahoma state legislators who, by golly, want you to know that we've got trouble -- terrible, terrible trouble -- lurking in homeschooling families all across this state. Read about it here, and please contact your state legislators and urge them to protect our freedoms.

New autism school opening in Tulsa

More information is here, and this story in the Claremore Daily Progress explains how public policy can help.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pittman legislation to benefit vulnerable citizens

"State Rep. Anastasia Pittman has filed several measures this year to provide new protections and benefits to Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens, including children with disabilities," according to a House press release. "'I believe government’s core functions include protecting our most vulnerable citizens from exploitation and ensuring all children have access to a quality education, particularly those with special needs,'" said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City.

Recession? What recession?

"Despite state-funding shortfalls and looming budget cuts, many Tulsa-area school districts gave their superintendents pay raises this year," Jenny Redden reports.

Special-needs scholarships proposed

This morning on NewsRadio 1000 KTOK in Oklahoma City, Reid Mullins and I discussed bipartisan legislation being proposed at the state capitol which would give scholarships to special-needs children.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thank God in heaven, no more IEP meetings!

As Oklahomans continue to push for tuition-assistance scholarships for special-needs students, this new study by former Virginia Solicitor General William Hurd could prove helpful.

OEA exposed

Our friends at OFRG have the story on an interesting new website.

'Revolutionizing American education'

Heritage Foundation scholar Dan Lips discusses online learning, and tells what state policymakers can do to help.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

'A devastating report for proponents of government-run early childhood initiatives'

"It's past time we turn to the education reform that has proven itself through multiple random-assignment studies," Adam Schaeffer writes. "School choice."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The harms of homeschooling?

Talk about lefty law professors dealing with issues above their pay grade. My friend Izzy Lyman dismantles the poor gal here.

Without HOPE in the World

Ouch. The Tulsa World reports that even Drew Edmondson and Jari Askins oppose SQ 744.

State charter-school laws ranked

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has released a ranking of all state charter school laws. Oklahoma ranks 24th.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nice work if you can get it

OFRG has an interesting new report here which is getting some good media coverage. My favorite example from the report has to be the school superintendent earning $93,002 while overseeing ... 69 students.

Either way, Oklahoma is near the bottom

As Education Week magazine prepares to release its annual report card for states, education researcher Margaret Raymond and a team of researchers from Stanford suggest that one set of grades on the report card could be improved by looking only at indicators of school quality.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Union dues at work

Mike Antonucci -- Education Week calls him "the nation's leading observer -- and critic -- of the two national teachers' unions and their affiliates" -- reports that in fiscal year 2008-09 the NEA sent money to several state affiliates "for the specific purpose of passing or defeating ballot initiatives or legislative measures." The Oklahoma Education Association received a grant for $42,529 (to push SQ 744, I presume).

Something tells me we haven't seen the last of the national money for 744.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Socialists lament 'attack on our basic rights'

I guess you gotta admire anyone who would have the guts to stand up for the D.C. public schools.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

'One of the hottest trends in education'

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Signers' remorse?

"'From conversations I've had with some of the individuals that signed the HOPE petition, they've said if they'd had a crystal ball and had been able to look down the road to see what was happening in the economy — not just here in Oklahoma but nationwide — their timing for this might have been a whole lot different,' said [Lt. Gov. Jari] Askins, who is a 2010 gubernatorial candidate."

Quote of the decade

"For an unmatched combination of hyperbole, metaphor, and faulty history," writes Mike Antonucci, "there can be only one Public Education Quote of the Decade."
"The struggle in which we are engaged is as vital to our future today as was the outcome of the Civil War to our nation in 1860 (sic). The goal of these locusts is to impose their will on state after state until they have completely demolished government as we know it. There is a time for every generation to rise to the call – when the very existence of our nation, our state, our values, our culture and our public schools are threatened with extinction."

-- Nebraska State Education Association executive director Jim Griess on Initiative 423, a ballot measure that would have limited state government spending to previous years' amounts, with allowed increases for inflation and population growth