Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some Tulsans dissatisfied with their return on 'investment'

Krista Flasch of KJRH reports that a group of protesters rallied today against the $354 million dollar bond issue Tulsa Public Schools is trying to push through. One of the protesters was quoted as saying, "We've got eighth graders that have a second grade reading level. We just don't want to pay any more taxes on this." Silly taxpayer. Meanwhile, school superintendent Keith Ballard, apparently unfamiliar with this chart, assures us that more money "impacts test scores," though he didn't specify whether the impact was positive or negative.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A privileged player?

"Should state schooling be the default position against which others are judged?"

Philosophy professor Christopher O. Tollefsen doesn't think so. He says it's a faulty assumption, "widely shared amongst liberal theorists of education" (and, I would add, amongst nearly everyone under the dome at NE 23rd & Lincoln), "that the state is in some way a privileged player in the question of children’s education. According to this view, the state should educate children, and others who claim a right to do so should be subject to special scrutiny or meet a special burden of proof."

There are signs that that attitude is beginning to change in Oklahoma, that private and home schools are starting to get their due. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 22, 2010

But things will be different this time, trust me

"There's a tradition in education," former New York City school chancellor Frank Macchiarola once observed, "that if you spend a dollar and it doesn't work, you should spend two dollars; and not only that, you should give those two dollars to the same person who couldn't do the job with only one."

As the chart below demonstrates, that tradition is alive and well in Oklahoma. Since HB 1017 was signed into law two decades ago, spending has risen dramatically while performance has remained essentially flat. If someone wants to explain to me exactly how more money is going to help, I would be fascinated to hear them out. In the meantime, I would suggest we try something else. Because what we're doing now isn't working.

Happy birthday ...

... to one of the all-time-great homeschooled students.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Glad to know it's open to the public

According to a new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, only 1.69 percent of the students at Southeast Elementary School (in the Jenks school district) are low-income. The student body at this private public school is 89 percent white, 5 percent Asian, 2 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent black.

Are teachers' unions hurting education?

Are public schools hazardous to public education?

Andrew J. Coulson thinks so.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FOX 25 reports on school-choice legislation

KOKH FOX 25 in Oklahoma City ran a story tonight on some school-choice legislation being considered at 23rd and Lincoln. As I told anchor Andrew Speno, politicians blocking the schoolhouse door are going to find themselves on the wrong side of history.

State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, also interviewed for the story, is an upstanding citizen (and a courageous pro-life Democrat). But for the life of me I can't figure out why he keeps insisting that public schools "give every kid a chance to become everything God intends for them to be," when that is one thing they demonstrably fail to do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Byrne touts school choice in Oklahoma City

Patrick Byrne, CEO of, spoke to a joint meeting of Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis clubs yesterday on the topic of school choice. He was introduced by Bill Price, chairman of the Oklahoma School Choice Coalition.

Oklahoma City religious leader: 'We are eager to partner'

"We are eager to partner with anyone that takes the education of children seriously."

That was the message of Dr. M. L. Jemison, senior pastor of the 2,500-member St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, at a press conference yesterday at the St. John Christian Heritage Academy, where Dr. Jemison serves as CEO. KOCO's coverage, including an interview with Dr. Betty Mason, is here.

Journal Record editor: School vouchers 'a darn good idea'

"We can't fix a system that doesn't work," Ted Streuli writes today. "Rather, we have to build a new system and vouchers can help create it."

Is it really 'safe' sex if the child is 11?

The grown-ups in Tahlequah's public schools are teaching sex education (including information about birth control) to 6th graders.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Vouchers (and tax credits) make the world safe for charters

"Until parents can choose their schools," Greg Forster writes, "no other type of school reform will work."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Unionized teachers getting their money's worth

In the current issue of Cato Journal, Andrew J. Coulson suggests that teacher union members are getting their money's worth, but not for the reason they may think. Public school teachers' salaries "greatly exceed the market-determined teacher salaries of the private sector," Coulson writes.
While collective bargaining appears to offer minimal returns within the public school sector, unions nevertheless provide a valuable service to their members: protecting them from having to compete in the educational marketplace.

The NEA and AFT spend large sums on political lobbying so that public school districts maintain their monopoly control of more than half a trillion dollars in annual U.S. K-12 education spending. That monopoly, in turn, offers a more than 40 percent average compensation premium over the private sector, along with greater job security. And since both the U.S. and international research indicate that achievement and efficiency are generally higher in private sector—and particularly competitive market—education systems, the public school monopoly imposes an enormous cost on American children and taxpayers (Coulson 2009). We are paying dearly for the union label, but mainly due to union lobbying to preserve the government school monopoly rather than to collective bargaining.

Remind me again why SQ 744 will help

Thursday, February 11, 2010

For pro-family tax policy

In a presentation (click here and scroll to the 36:40 mark) last week in Virginia Beach, historian Allan Carlson mentioned some encouraging "pockets of resistance" to the overweening state. I asked him (at the 119:30 mark) what public policy can do to help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

Efforts are under way at the state capitol to prohibit children from appearing in ads promoting the Oklahoma lottery. But if children have more sense than grown-ups on the matter, why shouldn't they appear?

Link teacher pay to performance

Modest legislation proposing a performance pay pilot program passed a state House committee this week. OCPA has long favored the idea of linking teacher pay to performance.