Monday, February 28, 2011

'Innovation needed to secure educational progress'

Patricia Levesque discusses Education Savings Accounts.

'Spiritual formation and academic rigor are not mutually exclusive'

What's the only school in northwest Oklahoma to have two National Merit Semifinalists this year? Oklahoma Bible Academy in Enid, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oklahomans favor school-choice tax credits

Over in Bixby, where the school board is none too keen on giving parents choices, the newspaper is reporting that a plurality of Oklahomans favors school-choice tax credits. And if SB 969 becomes law, neither Bixby nor any other school board will be able to prevent some fortunate students from getting a shot at a better education.

Friday, February 25, 2011

But I repeat myself

Gov. Walker is being opposed by the Commies, the socialists, and the teachers union.

More signs of success

"Assessment data keeps pouring in that shows [our] students outperforming their peers in every category tested," a college provost writes. "On the ETS Proficiency Profile, a recognized and widely-used standardized test of academic proficiency in higher education, [our] students posted the highest average scores of all institutions that took the test. Those 261 schools taking the test included liberal arts colleges and large research, doctoral-granting universities. Among those taking that test, [our] academic performance is #1."

Not too shabby for a conservative Christian college where more than 80 percent of the students were homeschooled.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why indeed

"Why should new ideas bear the burden of proof," asks Ronald Wolk, founder and longtime editor of Education Week, "when the existing system is allowed to continue essentially unchanged even though it is largely failing?"

Private sector devises creative solutions

Earlier this month I pointed out how some private schools are doing a better job dealing with snow days than are their public-school counterparts. And subsequent news reports have informed us that, to make up for these snow days, many public schools are (unsurprisingly) doing what's best for the grown-ups rather than what's best for the children.

"My daughter’s private school, however, is free to devise creative solutions to the problem," OCPA fellow Andrew Spiropoulos writes today in his Journal Record column. "The school assures us that we need not add extra days or disrupt lives by changing the school day. Because they possess the flexibility to act as they please, they will restructure classes, testing, and other activities in order to ensure that no academic work is missed. Perhaps the real story here is not the need for enlightened public school leadership -- it’s the need for genuine school choice."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The power of one

Over at Education Next, A. Graham Down writes:
Too Simple to Fail, a new book from Oxford University Press, is a review of thirty years of research into how children learn and what would give us better results. The author, R. Barker Bausell, a biostatistician in the School of Nursing at the University of Maryland, has come to the conclusion that classroom instruction is hopelessly obsolete, and that the answer to the deficiencies of our educational system is the tutorial model.

As a graduate of Oxbridge, with its time-honored tutorial system, it would be difficult for me to dispute Dr. Bausell’s central premise — that one-on-one instruction is the best guarantor of improved academic performance. Of course, this would involve displacing or at least supplementing the traditional 1:35 student:teacher ratio of the conventional classroom. But Dr. Bausell’s exhaustive research summary leaves one with no other plausible conclusion.

Reformers to gather prior to school board meeting

Stuart Jolly, Oklahoma state director at Americans for Prosperity, is inviting reform-minded Oklahomans to gather outside of the Hodge Education Building tomorrow morning at 9:00 for a public showing of support for real education reform. The state school board meeting is at 9:30. For more information, call 405-202-9945.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Amid moral insanity, homeschooler stands tall

Albert Mohler writes about a homeschooled wrestler who, by "expressing what would have been taken as common sense and common decency just a few years ago," provided America with a moment of "temporary sanity in a world going increasingly mad."

Because getting thrashed 81-19 ain't cheap

"Amid substantial membership losses and a $14 million shortfall in its general operating budget, the National Education Association plans to double each active member's annual contribution to the national union's political and media funds," Mike Antonucci reports.

School-choice tax credits popular; bill advances

Earlier this year during National School Choice Week, state Superintendent Janet Barresi said one of her top priorities in her first year in office will be "to encourage innovation and choice in Oklahoma's education system by working with Governor Fallin and members of our Legislature on policies like tuition tax credits."

One legislator who has taken the lead on this issue is state Sen. Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa). His scholarship tax credit bill cleared a Senate committee yesterday, and a new SoonerPoll shows that Oklahomans support the idea.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Enid News: 'Education changes inevitable'

"There's a phrase on the lips of just about every legislative leader at the state Capitol this session, and that phrase is 'education reform,'" the Enid News and Eagle editorializes.
With the election of a Republican governor, an overwhelmingly Republican Legislature and a Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction, the forces of change are sweeping through the statehouse in regard to education standards and funding.

And it is becoming evident these changes will be a bitter pill for the education establishment to swallow. ...

Public education has been controlled by teacher organizations (unions) and Democratic legislators and policies for decades. Although we believe most people involved in the education system are good people who care about children and about the learning environment, we also know there are many established procedures, policies and practices that have been put in place more for the protection of the status quo than for real educational benefit.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oklahoma homeschoolers are really cookin', dunk you very much

A representative of a national homeschooling organization was in my office on Thursday, and he mentioned to me that Oklahoma is a shining star not only because of our favorable legal climate but also because "Oklahoma has some famous homeschoolers, like Blake Griffin and The Pioneer Woman."

Well, sure. Blake Superior was homeschooled through 8th grade in the Oklahoma City area, and P-Dub currently homeschools her brood in the Osage. But even beyond those two, it's pretty clear that homeschooling has gone mainstream in Oklahoma, more so than in many other states. A new SoonerPoll (margin of error ± 4.35%) asked Oklahomans this simple question: "Many parents prefer to educate their children at home instead of sending them to school. Do you know of anyone that currently homeschools their child?"

A full 56 percent of respondents said yes, while 43 percent said no.

Interestingly, an Education Next-Harvard PEPG survey asked the same question last year and found that, nationwide, only 36 percent of respondents knew a family that homeschools, while 64 percent did not.

Friday, February 18, 2011

State chamber likes ESAs

The state chamber of commerce favors "an education package that includes cutting back on teacher tenure, establishing teacher pay-for-performance, expanding access to virtual schools, and creating education savings accounts." Alas, it's the state chamber in Florida, but this is encouraging nonetheless.

Bill Gates' favorite teacher

... wants to disrupt education.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

15 school-choice myths

Great work from our friends in Pennsylvania, with many lessons for Oklahoma.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Busing highlights need for prioritizing

The Oklahoma Senate is considering a bill that would allow school districts to sell ads on the exterior of school buses, though certain kinds of ads -- gambling, for instance -- would not be permitted. Does this mean that ads for Oklahoma's education lottery would be prohibited? (Umm, let's raise money for education, but not by promoting gambling -- even though we already use gambling to raise money for education.)

Moral confusion aside, let us consider a more fundamental question. As the state's largest newspaper asked yesterday in an excellent editorial, why are public schools even in the busing business?
We’ve made the argument before -- the Oklahoma Constitution requires the state to provide children an education, but says nothing about providing them transportation to and from school. Even so, this practice has continued for generations.
Three years ago, when diesel fuel climbed above $4 per gallon, some districts revisited their busing policies. We’re not aware of any that decided to drop busing altogether, even though doing so would have meant significantly more money for their classrooms. How much? Consider that transportation costs are north of $175 million statewide.
As Dr. Greg Forster pointed out last month in an article on bureaucratic bloat -- Oklahoma has nearly as many non-teachers as teachers! -- "there's absolutely no reason for any sector of government to directly employ bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, or any of the rest of this category. The whole enchilada needs to be privatized posthaste."

Public school board members for school choice

As children continue to be trapped in failing schools, despite massive increases in taxpayer funding, public school board members in Pennsylvania -- past and present -- are forming "Public School Board Members for School Choice" to support efforts to throw educational lifelines to more children through expanded school choice. According to a news release from the Commonwealth Foundation,
Former School District of Philadelphia Board member Sam Katz said, "Public education reformers have sought more funding, governance changes, standardized testing, centralized curriculum and a host of other changes. Though well intended these have often missed the mark and left another generation stranded in a vastly more complex and technologically sophisticated economy. For the middle class, moving the family, non-public school or even private schools have afforded families options. The less fortunate are left with few choices. It's time to change that now."

Bob Howard, former school board president of the North Allegheny School District in Allegheny County, supports school choice because, "High achieving school districts like the North Allegheny School District have nothing to fear from school choice. Like many parents in my district, I was able to exercise school choice when I moved into one of the highest performing districts in the state. It would now be unconscionable for me to deny the poorest amongst us school choice while protecting failing schools."

Larry Wittig, current school board president of the Tamaqua Area School District in Schuylkill County since 1995, intimately understands the challenges as well as the limitations of public education.

"Competition in public education is never bad. We already win on price-we're free to parents and students-so all we have to do is be as good as our competition, and we will win," said Witting. "Unfortunately, students-through no fault of their own-find themselves in a situation that is academically paralyzing. It's common sense to give those with the greatest need the opportunity to find a better school."

Throughout the coming weeks and months as the legislature considers expanding Pennsylvania's school choice options, "Public School Board Members for School Choice" will provide a voice for those current and past elected officials who support putting the interests of children first and foremost in this school choice debate.

School board members will be signing the following statement:

Public School Board Members for School Choice

WHEREAS, public school board members are elected to provide leadership and stewardship in the operation of public education and the delivery of educational services and to hold the interests of students as their top priority; and

WHEREAS, public school board members have a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to ensure the highest possible return on the public's investment in the education of students; and

WHEREAS, classroom teachers play the most critical role in the pursuit of educational performance by their students but are often faced with restrictions and limitations that can hamper their effectiveness ; and

WHEREAS, the Ridge Administration first proposed school vouchers in 1996 for children in under-performing schools as part of a much broader plan for educational reform while opponents of school choice argued that public schools were inadequately funded and that vouchers would further erode funding for public schools; and

WHEREAS, 15 years later, taxpayer spending in the Commonwealth on public education doubled to $26 billion per year to an average of more than $13,000 per student-$2,000 more than the national average and more than 39 other states; and

WHEREAS, public schools continue to perform poorly for the children of low-income families despite funding increases leaving students from low income families trapped and with no options for better educational opportunities; and

WHEREAS, the absence of choice for these parents means our public schools lack the critical incentives that drive continuous quality improvements.

NOW, THEREFORE, a different course of action is necessary to improve our public school system, particularly for low-income children.

THEREFORE, we the undersigned current and past public school board members from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania support legislative efforts to give parents greater school choices in the education of their children.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Educators practicing con law (cont'd.)

First we were treated to the spectacle of school officials disobeying Oklahoma's special-needs scholarship law because they said it was "unconstitutional."

Now a former basketball coach at Hennessey High School says he shouldn't be charged with rape for having sex with a member of his team because a law prohibiting consensual sex between adults is -- you guessed it -- unconstitutional.

Monday, February 14, 2011

School choice for foster kids

The Oklahoman reports today that foster-parent recruitment in Oklahoma isn't keeping up with the great need in the state. The story notes that some foster parents get a clothing voucher for children. Why don't we consider giving them a school voucher as well? (Arizona does something similar.)

Interestingly, Gov. Mary Fallin, while in Congress, co-sponsored the "School Choice for Foster Kids Act," a bill which would authorize states to provide vouchers to foster kids to cover tuition costs at private schools. Oklahoma state legislators should send Gov. Fallin a bill like that in 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just send money, suckas!

Do you recall the news stories last year about the city manager in Bell, California (population 36,664) who was being paid $787,637 a year? Ask yourself: Was that civil servant so talented, so valuable, that private firms in the area were beating down his door offering him that much money?

Of course not. Which brings us to a column in the Edmond Sun in which my friend Stuart Jolly, state director of Americans for Prosperity, points out that more than 200 superintendents in Oklahoma are paid in excess of $100,000 a year. Another 16 school superintendents are actually paid more than the governor (who earns $147,000). Jolly writes:
The governor manages a state population of 3.6 million, a budget totaling nearly $7 billion, and dozens of agencies. While the responsibility of educating our children is an absolute priority, it is difficult to argue that the responsibilities of a district administrator are more challenging than the state’s governor.

In the state’s largest district, Tulsa has a student population of 41,493 and the superintendent makes $256,000. At the other end of the spectrum, the superintendent of the Cleora school district, with a student body of only 140 students, makes $126,000—a whopping $900.60 per student. By comparison, a U.S. Army general fighting the war in Iraq with 28 years of service and commanding 20,000 soldiers makes only as much as the governor.

Kevin Williamson, author of the newly published The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, reminds us that socialism works very well ... for the rulers.

Certainly the educators and administrators who run the [public school] system are largely pleased with it, as they should be; the noncompetitive nature of government-run education provides them with salaries and benefits far exceeding what they plausibly could earn in the private sector. 

Unless of course you believe the private sector is willing to pay someone a quarter-million dollars annually to oversee an operation in which half of the finished products are unsatisfactory.

Friday, February 11, 2011

State school boards 'anachronistic'

Our friends at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute have taken note of Oklahoma's plan to neuter the state board of education.
Defenders of state boards of education (and frankly, we’re not sure who they are) might claim that these bodies are essential guardians of the public trust. But, as with local boards, they strike us more as anachronistic features of a system perfectly designed to maintain the status quo.

Why Democrats should embrace school choice

Over at HuffPo, Malcolm Glenn points to "some significant consistencies between the modern-day school choice and progressive movements" and says "Democrats must remember that [school choice] is intrinsically at the center of some of the party's core beliefs."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

8th grader thankful for homeschooling

P-Dub has the story.

School choice is 'a social-justice imperative'

"Expanding school choice for all Oklahomans deserves to be the crown jewel of the new Republican governing majority," Jason Reese writes in this week's issue of the Oklahoma Gazette.
School choice already exists for those wealthy enough to pay for private school or move to a desirable location. My wife and I eagerly take advantage of the quality education at our Catholic parish for our children and could not be happier with it.

Unfortunately, many Oklahomans are unable to send their children to the school of their choice. Expanding their choices is a social justice imperative. From threats of violence, to mediocre outcomes, to the undermining of religious faith, there are many reasons a parent may wish to withdraw from the public system. For the sake of our state, I wish Superintendent Barresi well in her fights with the dinosaurs of the Board of Education, but I still would prefer to keep the money that I pay to the Oklahoma City public school system and apply it to my children’s tuition. School choice includes the public system as well; witness the success of charter schools.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Freedom, not perestroika

Higher education needs more than perestroika, George Leef writes. He's exactly right, but one can't read his latest column without thinking also of K-12 education.
Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the rigid Soviet system gave way to glasnost (openness and freedom of discussion) and perestroika (restructuring of the system). Well-intentioned people proposed lots of changes to transform the nation's inefficient economy. They wanted to make better use of technology. They wanted more accountability for enterprise managers. They wanted to make the system work better.

What they didn’t want, however, was to scrap central planning in favor of unrestricted free enterprise. A few economists understood that trying to "fix" the central planning model was a waste of time because the model itself was the core of the problem—but challenging it was beyond the pale.

The reformers' ideas were well intentioned, but they could make very little difference. They didn't strike at the root of the problem.

So yes, I favor public education reforms such as merit pay for teachers, getting rid of trial de novo, reducing administrative bloat, and all sorts of things which are, heck, better than nothing. But in the end I can't get too excited about reforming socialism.

In K-12 education, we don't need perestroika. We need freedom. Not only is it more consistent with our American ideals, it also works better.

'The inhumane treatment of young people'

Citing many examples, including one in Oklahoma where school officials suspended a first grader for using his hand to simulate a gun, attorney and author John W. Whitehead writes at HuffPo:
What we are witnessing, thanks in large part to zero tolerance policies that were intended to make schools safer by discouraging the use of actual drugs and weapons by students, is the inhumane treatment of young people and the criminalization of childish behavior. ...

These policies, and the school administrators who relentlessly enforce them, render young people woefully ignorant of the rights they intrinsically possess as American citizens. What's more, having failed to learn much in the way of civic education while in school, young people are being browbeaten into believing that they have no true rights and government authorities have total power and can violate constitutional rights whenever they see fit.

There's an old axiom that what children learn in school today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow. As surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs and strip searches become the norm in elementary, middle and high schools across the nation, America is on a fast track to raising up an Orwellian generation -- one populated by compliant citizens accustomed to living in a police state and who march in lockstep to the dictates of the government. In other words, the schools are teaching our young people how to be obedient subjects in a totalitarian society.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Half of Oklahoma's top youth volunteers are ... homeschoolers

The best estimates are that 3 to 4 percent of the nation's school-age population is homeschooled, and there's no reason to think Oklahoma isn't in that ballpark. But even though homeschoolers account for a tiny fraction of the overall student population, they comprise 50 percent (3 out of 6) of Oklahoma's top youth volunteers.
Parth Singh, 16, of Jenks [High School] and [homeschooler] Timothy Reeves, 12, of Okmulgee today were named Oklahoma's top two youth volunteers for 2011 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 16th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). ...
Timothy, a sixth-grader at Reeves Homeschool Academy and a member of the Okmulgee County 4-H, has raised more than $4,600 for a local Ronald McDonald House over the past three years. Timothy started raising money for his cause when he joined 4-H three years ago and decided he wanted to "pay back" all that was done for his sister. "From the time she was born until she was around 3, she was in and out of the hospital several times," said Timothy. "Organizations like Ronald McDonald House made our family’s situation a little easier." ...

Every year, Timothy’s fund-raising total has increased, helping to pay bills at the Ronald McDonald House, stock the refrigerator for families staying there, build more Ronald McDonald houses to shelter families whose children are hospitalized, and fund research to find cures for sick kids. "We will never know how many people this money has touched or how many it will touch," said Timothy. "All I know is that this is a way that I can do my small part in a big world."

The program judges also recognized four other Oklahoma students as Distinguished Finalists for their volunteer efforts, and two of them are homeschoolers.

"These award recipients have proven that young people across America are critical to the future of our neighborhoods, our nation, and our world," said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. "Each and every one of these honorees deserve our respect and admiration, and we hope by shining a light on them, they will continue to serve as an example for others."

"The young people recognized by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards demonstrate an enormous capacity for giving and reaching out to those in need," said Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "NASSP is proud to honor these student leaders because they are wonderful examples of the high caliber of young people in our nation's schools [or not] today."

Again, we must ask ourselves: But what about socialization?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why Oklahomans should thank Jeb Bush

"Last spring, it looked like the Oklahoma state legislature was going to reject a school-choice bill to provide vouchers for learning-disabled students," John J. Miller reports in the cover story of the newest issue of National Review.

Earl Sears, a Republican, announced his opposition on May 19—a bad blow, because Sears is a former principal and several of his GOP colleagues take their cues from him on education.

Around 9:30 P.M. the next night, Sears’s phone rang. Jeb Bush was calling. "Excuse me, you mean the governor Jeb Bush of Florida?" asked Sears. The two men didn’t know each other and had not spoken previously, but they talked for 35 minutes. Bush urged Sears to support the bill, pointing out that an almost identical piece of legislation had become a successful law in Florida. "I tell you, he made an impact on me," said Sears on the morning of May 21, when he described the conversation in a speech to fellow lawmakers. He switched his vote from no to yes. Hours later, the bill passed. "We couldn't have done it without Sears," says Brandon Dutcher of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank. "So it's safe to say that we couldn't have done it without Jeb Bush."

Be sure to pick up a copy of the February 21 issue, and come hear Gov. Bush on March 30 in Oklahoma City.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A biblical case for Christian schools

Excellent article from ORU's Dr. Donnie Peal here.

Oklahoma's education landscape continues to change

There's an excellent column by Dan Lips today in The Oklahoman ("Education choice for Oklahoma's future). A former Heritage Foundation analyst, Mr. Lips is co-author of the 2002 OCPA study "The Oklahoma Scholarship Tax Credit: Giving Parents Choices, Saving Taxpayers Money." He is also the author of a forthcoming OCPA study on digital learning. He writes:
For years, the idea of giving families the maximum power to choose the best school for their children has been the "third rail" of education politics. But slowly a bipartisan consensus is forming. Around the country, Republicans and Democrats are working together to enact policies that give parents the freedom to choose.

Oklahoma is fast becoming a national leader in offering families school choice, thanks to its charter schools and the new scholarship program for children with disabilities. Gov. Mary Fallin and schools Superintendent Janet Barresi both support giving families more options.

And indeed, the landscape continues to change. Future conversations will turn more and more to online learning, Lips says, perhaps enabled in part by Education Savings Accounts.

In Arizona, Florida and other states, state leaders are considering giving families state-funded education savings accounts to purchase the best possible education for their children based on a new proposal from the Goldwater Institute. Oklahoma should consider this approach to create a system of real parental choice and innovation to hasten the arrival of education's exciting future.

Friday, February 4, 2011

'A fundamental shift in our K-12 investment strategy'

While exploding Medicaid costs certainly have grabbed the attention of state lawmakers, "the key structural problem in state and local finances is education, not health care," Adam Schaeffer writes in Investor's Business Daily.
And a fundamental shift in our K-12 investment strategy is the only way to avoid defaulting on the promise of a public education. ...

When a budget doesn't come close to adding up, the biggest expenditure usually has to give. That has meant foreclosure for many homeowners; and it means a serious restructuring of K-12 education spending for public officials. State and local governments need immediate relief from the financial demands of public schooling, and a long-term solution to the system's profligacy. ... We need a more effective and efficient means of investing in education. 

The long-term solution involves tax credits, of the sort provided for in SB 969, by Sen. Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa). As Schaeffer says, "citizens and businesses want to invest directly in the effort to educate the public, and we should encourage them to do so through K-12 education tax credits. Given our state and local financial outlook, we have no promising alternative."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Choice Remarks gets some national love

The Foundation for Educational Choice has been called "the nation’s original advocate of school choice" (Philanthropy magazine) and "the nation's leading voucher advocates" (The Wall Street Journal). One of their recent periodicals, The School Choice Advocate (click here for a PDF), tells the story of how school choice came to Oklahoma, and even gives a shout-out to this little blog.

And it turns out that one reader of The School Choice Advocate is none other than Steve Forbes.

'Nobody deserves tenure'

"Tenure didn’t come down from Mt. Sinai," Chester Finn writes.

Solution in search of a problem

Left-wing state Sen. Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah) wants "accountability" for homeschoolers. But why should the unsuccessful regulate the successful?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Board misbehavior may have sparked long-overdue reforms

[This Marlin Oil advertorial appears in the February 3 edition of The City Sentinel.]

The shocking confrontation between aggressive members of the state Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi drew national attention and saturation news coverage last week.

Startling and rude comments about working women by a couple of members, passed off as jokes, drew the most attention. While inappropriate and unfortunate, the reaction to those comments might mask the real issues involved in the searing rhetorical warfare and verbal salvos that board member Tim Gilpin aimed at Barresi as he and his allies methodically denied her right to make management decisions.

The superintendent is the only statewide elected position where the occupant must go to a governing board to seek permission to run her own agency. This is a broken and dysfunctional model in any rational analysis, especially so when the philosophies of the board and the superintendent differ. All six members of the current board were appointed by the last governor.

To say the philosophical views of the current superintendent and the board differ is an understatement. Gilpin advocated State Question 744, the controversial National Education Association ballot initiative that would have increased taxes by more than a billion dollars after implementation, and/or forced similar-sized budget cuts. The NEA initiative got a whopping 18 percent of the vote in November.

Janet Barresi got 56 percent in her race, while facing two opponents. She is the first Republican superintendent in state history.

In the end, this battle was and is about power -- and the ability, under Oklahoma's quirky ultra-populist system, of unelected members of one party to freeze efforts at reform endorsed by overwhelming majorities. The processes of decision-making are called "governance," which is a way of saying "how things work." Being allowed to govern will not make anyone a dictator, as Gilpin absurdly asserted about Barresi, but it will focus decision-making where it belongs: on the woman elected to do the job.

The only good that might come from the rudeness and lack of decorum of last week's meeting is that it may have sparked long-overdue reforms at the Board of Education. Although a constitutional agency, board powers and the terms of members are set by statute. That means the Legislature and the governor can make changes.

State Reps. Scott Martin and Jason Murphey have advanced a proposal to make elections count, by allowing Governor Mary Fallin to make most appointments to state boards and commissions. Other ideas are circulating at the state Capitol that might be focused on the particular dysfunction at the state Board of Education.

Barresi wants a meaningful performance audit of the Education Department. That is just for starters. She should be given the power and the authority to make things happen. Gilpin and former state Sen. Herb Rozell, the worst offenders, should resign. It would be a good end to a bad start if they suddenly behaved like gentlemen, and let the elected representatives of the people make public policy.

'Education should be a right for all'

Even the socialists see the absurdity of sending a woman to prison for the crime of caring about her children.

South Carolina's bold move

"South Carolina is on the cusp of leapfrogging most of the competition by passing one of the most ambitious pieces of school choice legislation in the country," Joshua Dunn writes.
Called the South Carolina Education Opportunity Act (SCEOA), the legislation would provide tax credits to parents choosing to send their children to private school, extend smaller tax credits to homeschooling families, and provide scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools.

Even OEA got the memo

"It is an obvious understatement to say Oklahoma’s education system is about to change," says the state's most powerful labor union.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Quote of the day

"The teacher unions are becoming like the tobacco industry. No one accepts their primary claims anymore, but that doesn't mean they don't continue to be powerful and that people don't continue to smoke."

-- Prof. Jay P. Greene

The Tulsa World and the future of snow days

"A blizzard that socked Oklahoma with snow, sleet and ice has halted the Tulsa World's production of its Wednesday print edition," the Associated Press reports. "It will be the first time in the paper's nearly 106-year history an edition hasn't been published." Alas, the World distributed its news via the Internet and various smartphone applications, and the Republic survived.

The blizzard also halted school for many kids. But might there come a time when snow days are obsolete?

UPDATE: Snow days are already obsolete for some private schools in Tulsa. They have "cyber days" instead.