Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'Florida tax credit analysis finds participant gains'

"A careful analysis of test score gains by David Figlio of Northwestern University has found a modest but statistically significant gains for Florida tax credit students," Matt Ladner reports. "Money quote from the study, with a definite echo of previous random assignment studies: 'These differences, while not large in magnitude, are larger and more statistically significant than in the past year’s results, suggesting that successive cohorts of participating students may be gaining ground over time.'"

School choice not only helps children

It helps taxpayers.

'School choice gains traction'

And not a moment too soon, says Acton Institute research fellow Kevin E. Schmiesing, because the education and formation of children is too important to be left to the government.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'Bullying a top concern at Tulsa-area schools'

Data collected by the Oklahoma State Department of Education show that "bullying is the greatest day-to-day threat to students' safety and security in Tulsa County's largest school districts -- Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso, and Union," the Associated Press reports.

Just one more reason many of us are choosing to follow the lead of Horace Mann, the father of the public school system.

Monday, August 29, 2011

'School choice is here to stay'

"Since the 2010 elections," Dick Komer writes in The Wall Street Journal, "the teachers union backlash has been stopped in its tracks."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

'Shovel more dollars into the jaws of failure'

"Beyond the lack of education in what's most important—our knowledge of God—slouches a frequent lack of education in what's needed to get a good job," Marvin Olasky writes.
The 10-year-old No Child Left Behind (NCLB) plan was supposed to help children stuck in bad public schools. The bipartisan deal that greased its passage gave liberals what they wanted, a huge increase in dollars from taxpayers. It was supposed to give conservatives a way to demand that schools push their students to become proficient in reading and math.

After a decade, it looks like NCLB proponents snookered conservatives. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledges that 80,000 of the nation's 100,000 public schools could be declared failing this fall—so he wants to dumb down the passing grade. He's like the corrupt teacher who sees 80 percent of his students fail, and gives them C's anyway. Duncan says grades of F will demoralize public-school administrators and teachers, but what about the students who are demoralized now, or will be once they graduate without adequate skills?

Olasky concludes, "The status quo is broken, the NCLB fix hasn't worked, and the alternative proposal we're hearing is: Shovel more dollars into the jaws of failure."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jeb Bush says ESAs a 'game changer'

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recommended to Gov. Rick Scott that he push for Education Savings Accounts, saying ESAs "will be a game changer for the country." He also suggested that Gov. Scott should consider selling the Florida Virtual School.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jenks indigence watch

A new 80,000-square-foot, $22 million facility features a 120-seat planetarium and a two-story greenhouse, the Tulsa World's Kim Archer reports.

This is getting a little out of hand

"This makes it nineteen (19) high-quality empirical studies finding school choice improves public schools," Greg Forster writes, "and zero (0) studies finding it harms public schools."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'You may have to hurt the kids now to help them for the future'

As I pointed out this spring in The Oklahoman, public education is being redefined. And there are some people who are not coping well with the reality de novo.

One example is the retired Oklahoma educator Edwin Vineyard, who says would-be pension reformers in the Oklahoma legislature probably "should die and go straight to hell." (Who knew liberals even believed in hell?) Another example comes from a group called Save Our Schools. Read the comments yourself and tell me if the members don't remind you of horse-and-buggy drivers, vaguely aware (and fearful) that Henry Ford is cooking up something down the street, but not really sure what to do about it.

Of course, one option is to "hurt the kids." As one member wrote:
I know I am a retired teacher and are behind the times, but I remember when we got thousands of teachers to take off (Blue Flu) to go to the Capitol to show support for State Question 1017. It was enacted. I appreciate all the teachers concerns, but with the present Republican controlled Government, the only way to get them to listen is to do something that will hurt them. I can promise you that not 1 letter from teachers is even read as Claudia's efforts have proven. Using the polls won't do any good because there are too many conservative voters. Some kind of work slow down or stoppage to put the school districts in jeopardy of failing (A,B,C,D,F). If school districts start failing by this ridiculous process and losing funding, the parents (or voters) will get something done. Teachers have no power whatsoever politically in Oklahoma. You have to use what you have and that is that you still control the classroom. I hate to say this, but you may have to hurt the kids now to help them for the future. How could teachers be demonized any worse. I think it is to the point that you will have to risk your jobs to get action. We were told not to go the Capitol for 1017, but did any way. Time for acting, not talking or you are going back 50 years. I know I am going to get hammerd, so please be gentle.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Oklahoma Living profiles homeschoolers

Homeschooling is the topic of the cover story in the August 2011 issue of Oklahoma Living, published by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Legislators discuss school choice

Yesterday our friends at Americans for Prosperity hosted a one-hour discussion on education, and Michael McNutt reports today in The Oklahoman that "the panel of four legislators spent most of the time talking about school choice."
Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said he expected legislators next year to consider measures that would move another step forward toward universal school choice, which would allow every parent to choose the best school for their child.

"If you're wealthy enough to move into (a better school) system, then you've got that great education coming your way," he said. "If you're not able to afford it, then we're going to leave you stuck in whatever system you live within boundaries of ... The economic freedom is just not there."

Legislators this year passed the first voucher program in the state which is intended to make it easier for students who attend or live in the attendance boundaries of the state's poorest performing schools to attend private schools. Senate Bill 969 would authorize tax credits for corporations and individuals who donate money to provide private school scholarships for qualifying children.

"School choice works," Jolley said. "It improves the quality of the product of public education. [He is correct.]

"School choice is giving parents the flexibility to take the money that they're spending in tax dollars and use it as they think their children would best be benefited," Jolley said. ...

Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said Oklahomans like to make choices, and public schools shouldn't be different.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Say it loud, say it proud: V is for voucher

It's no secret that the school-employee labor unions are stuck in the past, so it comes as no surprise that they still deploy the v-word as a weapon. For example, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) recently referred to Oklahoma's new tax-credit scholarship law, SB 969, as "a voucher bill." OEA probably thinks that among the general public the v-word is toxic. But in reality, as Harvard professor Paul E. Peterson pointed out this week, school vouchers are making a comeback in the court of public opinion. (I've polled them in Oklahoma and they're above water here, too -- though they're not as popular as tax credits, which is another incentive OEA would have to misrepresent SB 969.)

In any case, do you want to know my favorite factoid about vouchers? They were revived this year in the District of Columbia by the man the union just endorsed for President.

Jenks puts the ‘early’ in early childhood ed

Dr. Burton White, former director of the Harvard Preschool Project, once wrote:
After more than 30 years of research on how children develop well, I would not think of putting an infant or toddler of my own into any substitute-care program on a full-time basis, especially a center-based program.

That's not a quote you're going to find in the Jenks Public Schools "Early Learning Center" handbook. Though, on the bright side, you will find assurances that Jenks students are placed on their backs so as to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

A six-week old "problem solver"
Let's step back for a moment and review how it is we came to arrive on this planet. Originally, Oklahoma's state constitution required compulsory school attendance for children "between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in the year." The legislature later expanded the school year and lowered the age to seven, then to five. Today, an astonishing 71 percent of Oklahoma’s four-year-olds are in state-funded prekindergarten and, incredibly, 2,325 three-year-olds were in pre-K classrooms last year. One is reminded of the fire captain's remark in Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451: "We've lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we're almost snatching them from the cradle."

Almost? No, the Jenks Public Schools will gladly enroll your six-week-old scholar in an "education" program (6:30 AM to 6:00 PM if you like) whose "curriculum" encourages "language enrichment" and "problem solving." Jenks schoolteachers also strongly emphasize "the development of language skills (which is probably why they assure parents they are careful to wipe the students' gums with a clean washcloth after feeding).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is Matt Damon correct?

Is teacher pay woeful?

For higher-ed vouchers in Oklahoma

Several of my OCPA colleagues are at ALEC this week. I'm a member of ALEC's education task force, but I chose not to attend this particular meeting. (Honestly now, you expect me to tear myself away from this?) ALEC supports school choice, not only for common education but also for higher education.

I commend to your attention articles by Tom Daxon (a conservative) and Mickey Hepner (hard to peg, but not a conservative) arguing for choice in higher education.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Not Photoshopped

HT: Mike Antonucci

Digital-learning symposium successful

OCPA's symposium on digital learning was a great success. We had more than 100 people in attendance, including some key state lawmakers. Patrick McGuigan reports on the symposium here and here, and Peter J. Rudy (who live-tweeted the event) has a report here. In addition, OCPA released a new report on digital learning, which is online here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tax-subsidized catechesis

"How can children be expected to make sense of anything—from science to social studies—if the puzzle always has the central piece missing?"
I've argued before that school choice is imperative as a matter of religious freedom. I was reminded of this again this morning while listening to a podcast of the White Horse Inn.

"You look at the situation today, where kids go to school for 6 to 8 hours every day and they get catechized," theologian Michael Horton pointed out. "A lot of Christian kids go to public schools and they're not being catechized there in the Christian faith. They are being catechized, but not in the Christian faith."

Even unfriendly sources acknowledge school-choice progress

Both the Associated Press ("School voucher bills flood GOP-led statehouses") and the magazine District Administration ("School choice movement marches forward in 2011") acknowledge that school choice is on the march.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A million teachers march on D.C. (give or take 997,000)

Even with Matt Damon as a keynote speaker, the labor unions could only muster 3,000 people, according to Education Week. Says one critic:
The embarrassing attendance underlined one major truth -- there is no mass movement to maintain the status quo in our nation's public schools. The only people defending the current system are those who profit from it, like the leaders of the nation's teachers unions.