Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Head Start doesn't work

"Head Start, the flagship federal education program for low-income preschoolers, doesn’t work," Cato Institute scholar Andrew J. Coulson writes ("U.S. Government: Our 'Head Start' Program Doesn't Work").
That is the conclusion of yet another high quality, large-scale randomized experiment commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program.

Like an earlier study that found no lasting benefit to Head Start by the end of the 1st grade, this new study confirms no lasting benefit by the end of the 3rd grade—after an investment of 47 years and about $200 billion.

"If the federal government continues to fund Head Start," adds Heritage Foundation fellow Lindsey Burke, "states should be allowed to make those dollars portable, enabling students to attend an early education provider with great teachers that meets their learning needs."

Public education = Educating the public

"Public education is currently transitioning from a one-size-fits-all model of schooling to customized learning," Doug Tuthill writes. "As this shift unfolds, what constitutes public education is again changing."
Over the last several years, many reformers, including those of us at redefinED, have argued that public education is being redefined. It is no longer a closed system of neighborhood schools owned and managed by local school boards that assign students to schools by zip code. Instead, public education is evolving into an open and diverse network of structured learning environments, many of which are privately-owned and managed, that students can access using public funds.

'Lockdowns are common within Tulsa Public Schools'

Ho hum.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oklahoma students bring guns to school

"A firearm is taken to school about once a week by Oklahoma students," The Oklahoman reports today. Anne Jacobs, a clinical child psychologist who practices in Edmond, is quoted as saying one reason students bring weapons to school is that they are afraid of being harmed.
Through her work as a clinical psychologist, Jacobs has talked to students who felt as if guns or explosives were a last resort to end bullying.

"These young people described their peers watching the bullying without intervening and adults either being unaware or ineffective to stop this pattern of behavior," Jacobs said. "Despite knowing their parents loved them, they were not well supervised and did not feel emotionally close to their parents. Their statements to me reflected isolation, fear and desperation."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Status-quo educator wants to be 'in the driver's seat'

"Donna Anderson, a public school educator from Bennington in southeast Oklahoma, announced today that she will run for state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014," Patrick McGuigan reports.
A Democrat, Anderson opposes parental choice in education, specifically the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships. ...

She took a shot at incumbent state Superintendent Janet Barresi's background in business and dentistry, saying, "It is vital that educators, like me, are in the driver's seat of change."

The taxpayers who put Mrs. Anderson in the Bennington driver's seat are paying her just under six figures annually. Bennington students, however, are not performing at a high level. If you picked up the Bennington school district and plopped it down in Finland, the average Bennington student would be at the 5th percentile in math achievement. In Singapore, the average Bennington student would be at the 7th percentile. In Canada, the average Bennington student would be at the 9th percentile.

Not-so-great expectations

Apparently state Sen. Earl Garrison (D-Muskogee) and several public school superintendents in his district want to allow seniors to graduate if they make a composite score of 14 on the ACT. Appalling, I realize, but should it really surprise us? After all, in Oklahoma a kid with a 14 can be not merely a high-school graduate but a high-school valedictorian.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oklahoma high-school football coach arrested in molestation case

"The head football coach at Liberty High School was arrested Thursday on a lewd molestation allegation, as well as a complaint that he made a lewd proposal to a minor -- a student at the school," the Tulsa World reports.

School shootings spark interest in homeschooling

KOKH FOX 25 quotes one Oklahoma mother as saying: "I know so many of my friends are homeschooling their kids because of the shootings, because it's terrifying to know those can be your kids."

More schools close after threats

"Two more students have been arrested, and threats or rumors of threats have caused officials at two more northeastern Oklahoma school districts to cancel classes early," the Tulsa World reports. "Classes at the Caney Valley and Locust Grove school districts will not be held Friday, officials said."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

And on it goes

A band director at an Oklahoma City middle school has been arrested on a child pornography complaint, while a substitute teacher in Quinton has been charged with statutory rape of a student.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bartlesville schools closed today because of credible threat

"Another report of a threat at Bartlesville High School has led administrators to close all the district's schools on Wednesday," Laura Summers reports in the Tulsa World.
The district received "credible reports of a threat at the high school," according to messages sent to parents by phone and email around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The message, from Superintendent Gary Quinn, said school officials "expect the situation to be stabilized by the time students are scheduled to return to school on January 2, 2013."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

School safety woes in Oklahoma

"An 18-year-old Bartlesville High School student was arrested early Friday after police uncovered an alleged school-shooting massacre plot," the Tulsa World reports. "Sammie Eaglebear Chavez attempted to recruit students in the school cafeteria on Wednesday to help him carry out a massive school shooting and bombing plot, police allege in a court affidavit."

Meanwhile, in Edmond, "police are investigating a report of a sexual assault on an Edmond school bus," The Oklahoman reports. A spokesman for the school district says "the parents of the victim told school officials their teenager was forced to perform oral sex on another teenager while on a bus that was taking students home from the high school."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'The fight against the total surveillance state in our schools'

"These tendrils of the corporate surveillance-state are slowly coming to control all our daily interactions," constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead writes, "and our nation’s public schools are merely the forefront of a movement to completely automate all human interaction and ensure that no one is able to escape the prying eyes of government officials and their corporate partners."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tax credits more popular than vouchers, charter schools

Over at the Cato blog, Andrew J. Coulson writes: "In a recent public opinion study conducted by Harvard University researchers, education tax credits were found to attract more public support (72%) than either charter schools (62%) or vouchers (50%)."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oklahoma cheating scandal gets national headlines

Over at HuffPo: "Oklahoma School Cheating Scandal Brings Audit Of Student Transcripts, Most Not Ready To Graduate."

Charter school choice alone will not suffice

John Kirtley, chairman of Step Up for Students, recently made the case that charter school choice without private school choice is a mistake, the Council for American Private Education reports.
His first objection to a “charter only” strategy is on moral grounds. Students in substandard public schools have high-performing private schools available right now in their neighborhoods and should not have to postpone a quality education hoping that someday a charter school might appear. The need is now, and parents don’t have time to
wait lest their children be lost. “It’s just morally wrong,” said Kirtley.

A second reason that “charters alone” is a poor strategy is that “the competition effect is much more robust if you have more schools in the mix, including private schools.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rubio promotes school choice

"Our tax code should reward investment in education," Marco Rubio said in a recent speech.
If you invest in a business by buying a machine, you get a tax credit for the cost. If there is a tax credit for investing in equipment, shouldn’t there be a tax credit for investing in people?

Let’s provide tax encouragement to help parents pay for the school of their choice. Lets create a corporate federal tax credit to a qualifying, non-profit 501(c)(3) Education Scholarship Organization, so that students from low income families can receive a scholarship to pay for the cost of a private education of their parents choosing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Supreme Court beats back bureaucrats on schools deal'

The story by Pat McGuigan and Stacy Martin is here. The state's largest newspaper editorializes here. And the Heritage Foundation's Rachel Sheffield weighs in here.

Teacher fraud opens the door to school choice

The Daily Caller has the story.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

'The case for educational pluralism'

"Educational pluralism effectively accomplishes the proper ends of public education without imposing the uniformity created by the present American system," Ashley Rogers Berner writes in First Things.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oklahoma lawmaker says school choice 'saves the state money'

"What we're actually paying out is about $120,000 less than what we were spending on this group of kids," state Rep. Jason Nelson says of the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarships. "So that money goes back into the school funding formula to benefit the rest of the kids in the state."

UPDATE: The state's largest newspaper has an excellent editorial here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Global homeschooling leaders unveil historic declaration

"Leaders in the homeschooling movement from some two dozen countries signed a historic document dubbed the “Berlin Declaration” on November 3," Alex Newman reports.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Census data show Oklahoma enrollment

Good article by Curtis Killman and Kim Archer in the Tulsa World today ("Tulsa leads in private-school enrollment"). It's clear that Oklahomans continue to choose public schools:
During 2009-2011, 92.3 percent of students in grades K-12 were enrolled in public schools, making the state No. 8 nationwide. 

Then again, are they really choosing public schools?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

George McGovern supported school choice

George McGovern, who died this week at the age of 90, was a strong supporter of parental choice in education.

Monday, October 22, 2012

ESAs 'will revolutionize K-12 education'

Clint Bolick describes our current public-school system as a
hidebound, bureaucratic, expensive, top-down, one-size-fits-all, command-and-control, inefficient, reform-resistant, administratively bloated, special-interest manipulated, obsolete, impersonal bricks-and-mortar system that represents the most disastrous failure of central planning west of Communist China and south of the United States Postal Service.

Bolick says education savings accounts will revolutionize K-12 education.

The worst part is that it went unnoticed for months

A school building sign in Sapulpa is misspelled.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Middle-class complacency

Reihan Salam observes that "achievement gap thinking allows the vast majority of middle-class parents to remain complacent about their own mediocre schools while focusing attention on a handful of dysfunctional urban school districts that educate a minority of America’s K-12 students. This complacency suits suburban America’s elected officials and school administrators, as it allows them to avoid contentious battles over truly innovative instructional models that could rattle the status quo."

Friday, October 19, 2012

'Fund education, not institutions'

Chester Finn says "digital learning has the potential to alter the system fundamentally and irreversibly. It’s no sideshow. It isn’t even the center ring. It’s the circus tent itself."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Per-pupil spending in Oklahoma

Daniel G. Thatcher, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, recently testified before the Oklahoma Senate Education Committee, Barbara Hoberock reports.
He said based on fiscal year 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, per pupil spending nationally was $10,615. Oklahoma ranked 48th out of 51 states, spending $7,896, he said.

But when the figure was adjusted for comparable wages, the state fared better, spending $9,390 and ranking 41st out of 51.

When the figure included comparable wages and money the state spends on prekindergarten, Oklahoma ranked 29th out 51 states, spending $10,950, Thatcher said.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Quote of the day

"Unfortunately, the public school in my area isn’t great, since my area is in America."

--TIME magazine columnist Joel Stein

Oklahoma City student stabbed in lip

"An eighth-grade student was stabbed in the upper lip by another student Monday at Roosevelt Middle School," The Oklahoman reports.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tulsa school district has 24 pools

Tulsa Public Schools has 24 pools, the Tulsa World informs us, "but some have gone unused for a decade or longer."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Parent trigger' conversation begins in Oklahoma

State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) is emerging as the leading voice.

This is welcome news

School-choice advocates have formed a national Commission on Faith-based Schools.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'Leave it to the private sector'

Early-childhood intervention, that is.

OKC mother keeping her bullied daughter out of school

"A concerned mother of a seventh-grade student at Rogers Middle School is ready to keep her daughter out of school for weeks to keep her safe," Ed Doney reports for KFOR. "Claudia Morrison said Tuesday she’s even willing to give up guardianship to a relative, just so her daughter can go to a school in a different district." (Yes, there's a black market in school choice.)
[Morrison] said her daughter was beaten up twice on Sept. 5 by the same girl on the Rogers Middle School grounds.

“She can’t concentrate,” Morrison said. “She can’t focus on her school work. She’s terrified to go back.”

Her daughter described one of the attacks.

“She kicked me, punched me, stomped on me, all in my face, pulled my hair out,” she said.

Morrison said she’s getting no answers from school officials on any punishment or what they’re doing to keep her daughter safe in the future.

Morrison said the female student who attacked her daughter has posted videos of previous fights on Facebook and bragged online about hurting her daughter.

As I never tire of repeating, bullied students deserve a ticket to safety.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ditching school

A couple of 5-year-old girls walked away from a Tulsa elementary school, the Tulsa World reports, "and were discovered more than two hours later playing in a drainage ditch at a nearby car dealership."

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's all money

I'm with Andrew Coulson on this one:  If we should only count "current" or "operating" expenditures -- if costs like construction and debt service don't really count -- well then, okay, we'd like that money back.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Polling news

"A survey by Gallup and the Phi Delta Kappa International education association finds that 60 percent of Americans think it's more important to balance the federal budget than to 'improve the quality of education,'" The Washington Times reports ("Poll: Americans want fiscal problems solved before school funding goes up").

Meanwhile, a new report shows Americans support school choice.

School choice increases per-pupil spending

The state's largest newspaper perceptively points out that, "ironically, many who complain about state funding have actually opposed programs that increase per-pupil amounts."
A scholarship program for children with special-needs allows those students to use most of the state funds allocated for their education to pay for private school. A portion remains with the public school, however, boosting district funds. Citizens can get tax credits for contributing to scholarship organizations that help low-income children attend private schools. As private funds allow those students to exit the public system, the tax dollars allotted for their education remains with public schools, benefiting other students. Yet both those programs have been opposed by some officials who simultaneously decry funding cuts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

'Pro-school-choice Democrats have the momentum'

Doug Tuthill reports from the Democratic National Convention.

Blended-learning profiles

Our friends at the Innosight Institute have a useful database tool profiling blended-learning programs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

'The Machine'

More cheating?

The state's largest newspaper reports on "testing irregularities" in Hinton.

UPDATE: 15 Hinton high school students have test scores invalidated.

'The Left's education divide'

Matt Purple reports on the Democrats' choice between children and unions.

'Teacher walkout'

"As conservative reforms gain momentum," Daniel James Devine reports in WORLD magazine, "teachers unions find themselves losing money and members."

Oklahoma schools: $184 million in administrative salaries

"Oklahoma’s bloated education system is partly inflated by the $184 million in salaries alone that taxpayers are paying about 2,700 school district administrators," Stacy Martin reports.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teacher unions not the root problem

Teachers unions, Neal McCluskey writes, "are not the root problem in education."
The root educational problem is that public schools are government schools, and politics—which cannot be detached from government—rewards concentrated special interests, of which unionized teachers are among the biggest.

Could school choice erase the wealth gap?

If Democrats truly care about low-income Americans, Diana Furchtgott-Roth says, they will support parental choice in education.

If teachers are underpaid ...

... why don't they earn more when they move to other occupations?

'Consumer choice in education'

It's in the Republican platform.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

10-year-old says he was stabbed on school bus

"A 10-year-old boy reported he was stabbed by a fellow student with a pair of scissors while riding a bus to school," Carrie Coppernoll reports in The Oklahoman.

The student said he was stabbed in the shoulder by a female student while they were riding to school Aug. 16, according to a police report. They attend Green Pastures Elementary School, 4300 N Post Road, in Spencer. 

The boy told police the girl said she should have cut his eyes out after she stabbed him, according to the report.

He said he told the bus driver he was stabbed, but that the driver told him to sit down. He said he also told a teacher, who told him to sit down and that he would be all right, according to the report.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More creepiness from Tulsa Union

A Tulsa Union student has been arrested for taking a picture of a special-needs student using the restroom and then posting it online.

What is it with all this creepiness at Tulsa Union?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gallup shows private schools get top marks

According to a new Gallup poll, 78 percent of Americans say children educated in private schools receive an excellent or good education, while only 37 percent say the same of children educated in public schools.

Only five percent of Americans say children educated in public schools receive an "excellent" education.

The poll also shows that homeschoolers have their work cut out for them on the PR front.

'Teach your children well'

In The Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews Quinn Cummings's The Year of Learning Dangerously.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The rise of customized education

Heritage Foundation researcher Lindsey Burke notes "the rise of customized education" and reminds policymakers to ensure that
education funding is free from 19th-century ideas about schooling, in order to empower families to enjoy the benefits of 21st-century delivery models. School choice—whether vouchers, education tax credits, education savings accounts, or virtual schools—ensures that families won’t be left behind when the online learning revolution is in full force.

It's time to let the money follow the child

Even with most private schools in Tulsa raising tuition, it's interesting to note how many of those schools are still less expensive than Oklahoma's government-run schools (which spend $9,121 per pupil, according to a report from the research affiliate of The State Chamber).

'More parents of special-needs children opt out of public schools'

"A growing number of parents of special-needs children are opting out of public schools, deciding instead to home school or to pay for pricey private schools," the Houston Chronicle reports.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

'A generation of school-voucher success'

According to a researcher at the liberal Brookings Institution and a government professor at Harvard, "African-American kids in New York were 24 percent more likely to attend college if they won a scholarship to attend private school."

School choice will empower ...

... teachers.

OKC school district to seek federal money (and strings)

The Oklahoma City school district is set to vie for "Race to the Top" money. As Heritage Foundation analyst Lindsey Burke correctly says, it's just "another step in centralizing education control and a continuance of Washington-centric education policy that has burdened taxpayers, encumbered states, and failed students for the last half-century."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Want parental involvement? Expand school choice

"Given that children's success in school has significant impact on their future endeavors, policies should be designed to optimize parents' involvement in their children's education," Collette Caprara writes for The Heritage Foundation. "School choice would empower parents to be the decision-makers in their children's education, moving parents 'from the margins to the center for their child's academic development,' as one report puts it."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'School at home or homeschooling?'

More on the tension between homeschooling and government-provided virtual education.

The answer is to give parents purchasing power (either through tax cuts, tax credits, or some other mechanism) so they can educate their children as they see fit.

'School reform gets cool'

Naomi Schaefer Riley says "it's no longer just for nerds," a remark I'm tempted to resent but won't.

'On school choice, Ryan earns an A+'

Writes Deborah Simmons in The Washington Times.

NEA affiliate says NEA data incorrect

Mike Antonucci has the story.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Public money to private schools? We already do that

As is the case in Oklahoma, some members of the education establishment in Indiana argue that school choice violates the state constitution's Blaine Amendment. But as Angela C. Erickson demonstrates in an Institute for Justice report, "Indiana already supports families who choose private K-12 and college education for their children—including religious schools—and has done so for decades."

'School choice surge'

"New voucher and tax credit programs in several states are helping Christian students and schools turn corners," WORLD magazine reports.

Arizona ESA is a trend-setter

"This fall, the parents of 230,000 Arizona students can ask the state to deposit the bulk of their child's share of federal education money into a private bank account," Lauren Smith reports for Congressional Quarterly.
The parents can then use a check card to access the funds for tuition at a private, charter or religious school, or to pay for online classes, tutoring or school supplies. 

"Just like you could walk into Walgreens and pay for a prescription with your health savings account card, you can use your education savings card and purchase books, tutors, almost anything education-related," explains Jonathan Butcher, an education policy expert at the Goldwater Institute.

'The voucher left'

More inconvenient truths to disrupt the prevailing narrative.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Democrats must support school choice

"As a Democrat," writes former D.C. councilman Kevin P. Chavous, "I full-heartedly support school choice in every form—from strong traditional public schools to charter schools to voucher programs—because these options shift our focus from an antiquated, overly-bureaucratized one-size-fits-all system that is sadly failing millions of disadvantaged children to those who know their children best—parents."

Five-year-old wanders away from school

"A 5-year-old student who wandered alone from Heronville Elementary in Oklahoma City is OK after police found him at a convenience store five blocks away," The Oklahoman reports.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More discussion of ESA's in Oklahoma

Today in The Oklahoman, Don Soifer and Bob Holland explain how ESA's could benefit Oklahoma's military families.

Friday, August 3, 2012

'The end of teachers unions'

School reformers in Oklahoma will likely nod in agreement reading Stanford political scientist Terry M. Moe's latest essay. Much of what he describes is already happening before our eyes.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What the research says about compulsory school attendance

In a new Brookings Institution paper, Russ Whitehurst and Sarah Whitfield show that states with higher compulsory-school-attendance ages do not have higher high-school graduation rates than states with lower compulsory-school-attendance ages.

Survey identifies preferred education cuts

A new survey commissioned by the Fordham Institute finds that education cuts favored by respondents include teacher-salary freezes and administration cuts.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Parents of autistic children not amused

"A Tulsa World examination of public records requested under the Oklahoma Open Records Act found only two superintendents with no vehicle or travel allowance, while on the other end of the spectrum, four Union Public Schools administrators get full use of district-owned Acura vehicles as part of their benefits package," Andrea Eger and Kim Archer report.

Inconvenient truths

Click here to enlarge.

'My education in home schooling'

"Teaching kids at home can be terrifying," Quinn Cummings writes in The Wall Street Journal, "but it's sure to grow as families demand more choice."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Milton Friedman at 100

Today would have been Milton Friedman's 100th birthday. Lindsey Burke remembers Friedman's school-choice legacy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moral formation and school choice

"The school choice movement has been steadily making inroads because parents are demanding options and greater control over the moral formation and education of their children," Ray Nothstine writes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

University president, law professor support Henry Scholarships

Over at the OCPA blog, I commend to your attention two fine legal minds who support the Henry Scholarships for special-needs children.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is the 'master's bump' a waste?

A new report from a liberal think tank suggests Oklahoma could be putting that $38 million a year to better use.

'America has too many teachers'

"Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5 percent -- and academic results have stagnated," Andrew Coulson writes in The Wall Street Journal. "While America may have too many teachers, the greater problem is that our state schools have squandered their talents on a mass scale."

Glad we got that settled

Tahlequah Public Schools interim superintendent Lisa Presley wants you to remember something: "there has never been enough revenue for public education, and there never will be."

Student achievement data 'sobering'

The reality concerning U.S. student achievement is "sobering," former New York City school chancellor Joel Klein writes over at TIME.com.
Only the top quarter of America’s K-to-12 students are performing on par with the average students in Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, Taiwan, and South Korea. International comparisons of advanced achievement in math are even more depressing: 16 countries now produce at least twice as many advanced math students per capita as we do, an important predictor of how many engineers and scientists we'll have in the future driving economic growth. Last year a Harvard report by Erik A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson and Ludger Woessmann placed U.S. math performance 32nd among 65 nations -- all this as the U.S. continues to spend more on schools than many wealthy nations do as a share of GDP.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You're not doin' fine, Oklahoma

In a new study of student-achievement growth around the world, Eric Hanushek, Ludger Woessmann, and Paul E. Peterson found the United States 25th among 40 countries in the rate of annual growth in student test score performance since the 1990s. Peterson writes:
We also found that, among states within the United States, there was also wide variation in the annual rate of growth between 1992 and 2011. When data from all the 4th and 8th grade math, reading, and science tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are combined, we found that the annual growth in some states (Maryland, Florida, Delaware and Massachusetts) was more than three times as great as in other states, including Iowa, Maine, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.


How bad are our public schools?

"So bad that some parents are sending their kids to Africa for schooling."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tulsa World reports on numerous teacher sex-abuse claims

"A rash of Oklahoma cases of teachers and coaches accused of sexual misconduct with their students has some wondering if enough is being done to weed out child predators from schools," Kim Archer reports in the Tulsa World.

Archer quotes Terri Miller, president of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, as saying: "This is a life-threatening occurrence for many victims. Approximately 80 to 85 percent of (victims) we have spoken to have attempted suicide."

Another Democrat for school choice

The trend continues.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Teachers unions fund the Left

"What do the American Ireland Fund, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network have in common? All have received some of the more than $330 million that America's two largest teachers unions spent in the past five years on outside causes, political campaigns, lobbying and issue education," Alicia Mundy reports today in The Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Nor is tenure prevalent in the oil patch

An Associated Press story in today's Oklahoman informs us that one North Dakota oil town's prosperity isn't reaching public-school teachers.

That's because public-school teachers aren't part of the free-enterprise system.

Did Oklahoma principal force teachers to cheat?

One teacher says yes, and resigned in protest.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mississippi enacts voucher program for dyslexic students

"Mississippi recently became the first state in the nation to adopt a public and private school choice program in which state and federal monies are provided directly to schools which parents choose," Allison Hertog writes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

More cheating?

"Administrators at an Oklahoma City high school forced teachers to falsify enrollment and attendance records so they appeared to satisfy federal grant requirements, according to a teacher who said he recently resigned in protest," Victor Skinner reports.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What has 'doomsday' education spending wrought?

Higher graduation rates and test scores, Lisa Snell writes.

Oklahoma newspapers shine spotlight on bullying

The Shawnee News-Star is teaming up with Ardmore's Daily Ardmoreite and a Tennessee newspaper for a multi-part series on bullying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Battle for disabled children's scholarships begins before Oklahoma Supreme Court

A group of Oklahoma parents with disabled children, represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, have filed their critical brief before the Oklahoma Supreme Court defending the constitutionality of a scholarship program aimed to help disabled children succeed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Walker's win could boost parental choice

"The most important consequence of Scott Walker's key victory," Joel Belz writes, "is likely to be its ripple effect over the next decade on the issue of educational choice."
Wisconsin has its own historic role, especially in the city of Milwaukee, as a hospitable laboratory for educational vouchers and charter schools. Now, Wisconsin has also strategically minimized the potentially hostile role of the teachers unions. More than almost anywhere in the nation, and largely because of Scott Walker's remarkable courage, genuine educational diversity may have the opportunity to flourish and thrive.

I don't mean to imply that Walker's role in public life ought to be limited to a single issue. But choice in education has been a central focus during the controversial first term of this son of a Baptist minister. If after expanding energetic voucher programs from Milwaukee to Racine, Beloit, and Green Bay, he now provides a replicable template that can be exported to the rest of the nation, I can think of no more enduring gift he could offer the rest of the nation and its desperately broken culture.

Is an Oklahoma City principal cheating?

Jerry Bohnen has the story.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oklahoma Democrats stand up for human rights

The Oklahoma Democratic Party recently facilitated the first meeting of the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance. One fervently hopes they will take seriously the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which declares that "parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."

Democrats wanting to learn more about parental choice in education can learn a lot from the chairman of the Tulsa County Democratic Party, Judy Eason McIntyre, a strong supporter of this universal human right. 

Disadvantaged kids deserve choices

"In Florida and across this nation," writes the Rev. Manuel Sykes, "many die-hard Democrats and hard-core public education advocates are standing up to insist that our most disadvantaged schoolchildren are provided with every tool available. We see it as a moral imperative."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'Our Special-Ed system favors the rich'

It's time to come out of the shadows.

Vouchers, tax credits breathing new life into Catholic schools

"For the first time in decades, Catholic education is showing signs of life," Stephanie Banchero and Jennifer Levitz report in The Wall Street Journal. "Driven by expanding voucher programs, outreach to Hispanic Catholics and donations by business leaders, Catholic schools in several major cities are swinging back from closures and declining enrollment."

School system fails to harness skills of education workforce

"The public school monopoly is warehousing 3 million people in jobs that appear to have done nothing to improve student learning," Andrew J. Coulson writes. "Our K-12 government school system simply does not know how to harness the skills of our education workforce, and so is preventing these people from contributing to our economy while consuming massive quantities of tax dollars."

Monday, June 11, 2012

State's largest newspaper decries 'Jim Crow-era measures'

The Oklahoman recently weighed in with an excellent editorial on scholarships for special-needs children.
Jenks and Union schools actually sued the parents of children with special needs for using the scholarships. Yes, the schools sued the parents of autistic children!

They based their opposition on the “Blaine Amendment” in Oklahoma’s constitution. It forbids using state funds to support religious purposes. The measure was designed to hold back immigrant children by blocking access to Catholic schools, the kind of idea embraced by people who thought blacks should use separate restrooms — another measure enacted during the same era for the same reasons.

Government scholarships already pay for private school tuition. Medicaid pays for health care at Catholic and Baptist hospitals. Allowing a child with special needs access to specialized education benefits the child, not a church.

Tulsa school board member thinks tax cuts are insane

Tulsa school board vice president Anna America says Oklahoma policymakers may actually cut the income tax next year "if we don't start electing people who think sanely."

Henry Scholarships are changing lives

Friday, June 8, 2012

Teacher unions are unpopular

According to a new survey conducted on behalf of Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal Education Next, only 22 percent of Americans think teacher unions have a positive effect on schools. These findings are consistent with the results of a 2010 survey of Oklahomans.

On the bright side, teacher unions are popular with the People's World, a publication of the Communist Party USA. A delightfully fanciful article today, datelined Tulsa, quotes Oklahoma schoolteachers Clifton Ogle (American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO) and Elise Robilard (Moore Association of Classroom Teachers, NEA/OEA).

Yep, hard to believe teacher unions are losing members.

Parental choice #NarrativeFail

Over at HuffPo Education we are reminded that the emerging cry for parental choice is being driven by libertarian billionaires low-income parents.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Walker's win will boost education reform

"Voters told Walker that it was more than okay to reclaim public schools on behalf of students, parents and taxpayers," Steve Gunn writes. "It was clearly the right thing to do."
And remember, these election results come from Wisconsin, the cradle of the American labor movement, where worker rights are deeply and permanently revered. If the citizens of the Dairy State will allow their leaders to rein in the power of out-of-control public sector unions, it can happen anywhere.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Henry Scholarship lawsuit in a nutshell

Why are two Oklahoma school districts suing the parents of special-needs children? Kirk Humphreys sums it up:

I've been on school boards. School boards and school administrators always protect money. It's money, jobs, and power. And that's what's in play here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Education is more important than immigration

According to Latino voters.

Journalist says Henry Scholarships 'may be one of the most important policy issues I've ever covered'

Oklahoma City journalist Patrick McGuigan, editor of CapitolBeatOK, is spotlighted in the May 2012 issue of Franklin Center News. McGuigan was asked, "What’s the most important or interesting story you’ve worked on for CapitolBeatOK?" McGuigan pointed to a series of news stories
focused on the year-long process that led to enactment of a scholarship program allowing special needs/special education students to access the best educational setting for their needs, including in private settings. In terms of substantive policy, this may be one of the most important policy issues I've ever covered.

Does school choice reduce crime?

David J. Deming, an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, finds that 
winning a lottery for admission to the school of choice greatly reduces criminal activity, and that the greatest reduction occurs among youth at the highest risk for committing crimes. The impacts persist beyond the initial years of school enrollment, seven years after the school-choice lottery was held.

Foyil teacher arrested on sex crime complaints

"A Foyil Public Schools employee was arrested for an alleged sex crime against a minor," the NewsOn6 reports.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NEA hemorrhaging members

"According to multiple sources within the NEA leadership," Mike Antonucci reports, "the union is reporting a loss of 150,000 members over the past two years, and is projecting a further loss of more than 200,000 members over the next two years."

NEA signs up 10,000 teachers to reelect Obama

The National Education Association (NEA) has enlisted 10,000 of its members to help reelect Barack Obama.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Both of Oklahoma's Presidential Scholars attend schools of choice

Of the three million students graduating from high school this year, 141 have been named Presidential Scholars. Two of them are from Oklahoma, and they both attend schools of choice. (It's nothing new, of course, for students in Oklahoma's schools of choice to excel.)

Presidential Scholar Joseph C. Woodson of Tulsa is homeschooled, and Anna H. Zhao of Edmond attends the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

'Social media fueling teacher/student sexual relationships'

"There have been a number of sex scandals involving teachers in Oklahoma this year," FOX 23 reports.

Romney supports D.C. vouchers

"Mr. Romney has the moral and political high ground on vouchers," says The Wall Street Journal.

Friday, May 18, 2012

School-choice works

"School choice is such an objectively beneficial policy," Lindsey Burke writes, "that it's drawing high-profile supporters from both sides of the political divide."

'Oklahoma per-pupil funding comparison omits important data'

The state's largest newspaper brings some badly needed context to the school funding discussion.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dog bites man: Tax consumer opposes tax cuts

File this one under "taking your money and using it to lobby for more of your money."

Norman school superintendent Joe Siano, who is paid $173,950 annually to oversee a mediocre school district on the federal need-improvement list, says Oklahoma's 5.25 percent income tax is "already low" and shouldn't be reduced further.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

J.C. Watts says parents deserve choices

"We need to make sure that every child in America goes to a school every day that is safe and will teach them how to read and write and do arithmetic and gain the computer skills necessary to allow them to compete in the global marketplace," J.C. Watts says in the current issue of WORLD magazine. "If we can get that through the public schools, fine. If we can't, I'm all for parental choice in education to allow that parent to take his/her/their child to a school that is safe and teaches them, even if it is a faith-based school!"

Starting school too early can damage some children

Today in The Telegraph, Graeme Paton reports on a leading academic who is saying that formal schooling, if begun too early, can cause long-term damage to bright children.
Pupils should not be subjected to full classroom tuition until the age of six to off-set the effects of premature "adultification," it was claimed. Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, said gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed "too far, too fast." He quoted a major US study -- carried out over eight decades -- that showed children’s "run-away intellect" actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally. Many bright children can grow up in an "intellectually unbalanced way," suffering lifelong negative health effects and even premature death, after being pushed into formal schooling too quickly, he said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teacher unions support left-wing think tank

File this one under "taking your money and using it to lobby for more of your money."

The school-employee labor unions and other members of the education establishment are contributors to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a left-wing think tank and lobbying organization that is presently working to "save the income tax." Here's a listing of OPI supporters as of April 23, 2012.

Patrons ($500 and up)
  • Dr. David Adelson
  • AFT-Oklahoma
  • Jeff Alderman & Tobey Ballenger 
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation 
  • Steve Burrage 
  • Robert Butkin 
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 
  • Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma 
  • Community Service Council 
  • Don & Beverly Davis 
  • Jeff & Nance Diamond 
  • Drew & Linda Edmondson 
  • Erling and Associates 
  • First Nations Development Institute 
  • Ford Foundation 
  • Greater Oklahoma City Chamber 
  • Jerry and Julie Gustafson 
  • Gary Huddleston 
  • INTEGRIS Health 
  • George Kaiser Family Foundation 
  • Philip & Miranda Kaiser 
  • Joel Kantor 
  • George Krumme 
  • Dr. Kirby & Genny Lehman 
  • Bob Lemon & Robyn Sellers 
  • Vince LoVoi 
  • Brian Maddy 
  • Majority Plus, LLC (Pat Hall & Jim Dunlap) 
  • McNellie’s Group 
  • Sanjay Meshri 
  • Don and Donna Millican 
  • Mimosa Tree Capital, LLC 
  • Melvin and Jasmine Moran 
  • Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. 
  • Mary Mowdy 
  • Oklahoma AFL-CIO 
  • Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice 
  • Oklahoma City AFT 
  • Oklahoma Education Association 
  • Oklahoma Hospital Association 
  • Oklahoma Nurses Association 
  • Oklahoma Public Employees Association 
  • Oklahoma Retired Educators Association 
  • Jody Parker 
  • Pat Potts 
  • Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma 
  • Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma 
  • Anne Roberts 
  • Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation 
  • Rick Snyder 
  • Sonic Corp. 
  • Jim and Beth Tolbert 
  • Tulsa Community College 
  • Don Williams 
  • Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation 
  • Maxine and Jack Zarrow Foundation
Sponsors ($250 and up)
  • APS Healthcare
  • Dan & Claudia Arthrell 
  • Barlow Education Management Services 
  • Barnes Consulting 
  • Broken Arrow Economic Development Corporation 
  • CCOSA (Cooperative Council of School Administrators) 
  • Citizen Potawatomie Community Development Corp. 
  • Karen & Barry Davis 
  • Nancy Eggen 
  • John & Marilyn Feaver 
  • Ken Fergeson 
  • Goldenstern-Lantz Family 
  • Robert Harbison 
  • i2E, Inc. 
  • Kamas Consulting 
  • Albert “Kell” Kelly 
  • Drs. David and Christina Kendrick 
  • Steve Lewis 
  • Ed Long 
  • Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Inc. 
  • David Miller & Cathryne Stein 
  • National Association of Social Workers, Oklahoma Chapter 
  • Susan Neal 
  • Ruth Nelson 
  • Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education 
  • Oklahoma Community-Based Providers 
  • Oklahoma Library Association 
  • Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance 
  • Oklahoma Pharmacists Association 
  • Oklahoma State School Boards Association 
  • Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools 
  • George Palmer 
  • Jeanine Ridener
  • Nancy Love Robertson 
  • Tom Rogers 
  • Saltus Technologies 
  • San Juan Pools 
  • Dr. Chandini Sharma 
  • Robert Sherrer 
  • Southwest Oklahoma Impact Coalition 
  • Sunbeam Family Services, Inc. 
  • This Land Press 
  • Tulsa Metro Chamber

Governor signs groundbreaking school-choice plan

"Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law yesterday the expansion of an Arizona school choice program, explicitly making children of active military members eligible to participate -- a first nationwide," the Friedman Foundation reports.
The expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program also makes students in failing public schools or school districts and those adopted out of the state foster care system eligible starting in the 2013-14 school year.

Currently, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) are available only to Arizona children with special needs. The program allows parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive 90 percent of their state funding deposited into an account. Children’s ESA funds can go toward private school tuition, online courses, tutoring services, textbooks, and even future college expenses. Qualifying families do not have to meet income requirements.

"For decades, members of the armed forces have benefited from the GI Bill in higher education, and to give similar freedom to their children in K-12 education is the right move," said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. The Friedman Foundation was started by the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who first introduced the idea of universally available school choice in 1955. "Military members nationwide, and all families for that matter, deserve the ability to choose the schools, public or private, that work best for their children," Enlow added.

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute estimates some 11,500 school-age children of active military members and more than 94,000 students in public schools or school districts graded D or F by the state will be ESA-eligible. Currently, 125,000 students with special needs qualify for ESAs.

"This expansion gives more parents the ability to customize their children’s education," said Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater’s education director. "Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are a 21st century model for education other states would be wise to consider."

Eighteen states, including Arizona, and Washington, D.C., provide private school choice through ESAs, vouchers, or the tax code, according to the Friedman Foundation. This year, Arizona lawmakers already increased the cap on tax-credit contributions to private school scholarship organizations; Florida leaders also increased their state’s tax-credit program. In addition, the Virginia and New Hampshire legislatures -- neither of which allows private school choice -- passed similar proposals.

The ESA expansion passed Arizona's House and Senate by wide margins.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bullycide in Oklahoma

A Democratic state lawmaker says six students in Oklahoma have committed suicide so far this year because of being bullied.

The criminalization of America's schoolchildren

From time to time I've pointed out the similarities between public schools and prisons. In an interesting new article, constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead observes: "the moment young people walk into school, they increasingly find themselves under constant surveillance: they are photographed, fingerprinted, scanned, x-rayed, sniffed, and snooped on. Between metal detectors at the entrances, drug-sniffing dogs in the hallways, and surveillance cameras in the classrooms and elsewhere, many of America’s schools look more like prisons than learning facilities."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Harrah teacher, Thunder PA announcer arrested

He's accused of lewd acts with children.

Tests, you say? Tests? Ain't nobody got time for that!

As you can see in the news story above, some folks still aren't happy about this idea of having to pass tests in order to graduate from high school. It doesn't matter than they can "pass" some of these tests even if they get more questions wrong than right -- they still can't be bothered. As one student, whose mother is (gulp) an English teacher in the world-renowned Sand Springs district, memorably put it:
Four years of school is a little bit more important than one single test. This test ain't going to matter. Colleges don't look at your scores, they look at your GPA.

Sadly, in one sense the kid does have a point: colleges know that many kids with grade-inflated GPA's aren't "college-ready." They'll happily take your money anyway. But that merely puts off the day of reckoning for the hapless kid who thought his diploma actually meant something -- and now he's saddled with thousands of dollars of debt to boot. All because the alleged grown-ups in the equation were assuring him that passing these tests was unnecessary. Tests, schmests. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Head start (the good kind)

Moms ♥ school vouchers

"Just in time for Mother's Day," the Friedman Foundation reports, "a new national poll of American mothers finds that 71 percent support school vouchers for all children to get the best education possible."

Oklahoma locker-room rape case headed to trial

"The parents of a former Frederick High School basketball player allegedly raped with a magic marker by his teammates in the locker room are taking the school district to trial," The Oklahoman reports.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bullying victim texts dad: ‘Get me out of this school’

Bartlesville school officials are investigating a bullying incident against a 12-year-old boy at Madison Middle School (my alma mater, as it happens), the NewsOn6 reports.
The boy's parents are outraged and say their son has been the repeated victim of bullies. It finally got so bad, the Bartlesville boy locked himself up in the safety of a school bathroom stall and his parents went to the police.

The Bartlesville Madison Middle School student says he was jumped by five boys. "They knocked me down and kicked me in the stomach," the victim said. "Hit me in the stomach too."

It happened while they were returning to the building after an outside science class project.

"It just amazes me it got to this point," the victim's dad said.

Because he fears retaliation, we're protecting their identities. He says bullying has happened every single school day.

"I just try to ignore it most of the time, but sometimes it doesn't work," the victim said.

He said things like name calling and milk being poured in his backpack occur almost daily.

"They call me retard," the boy said. "They rip up my papers."

Then this week, after being jumped, he ran and locked himself in a bathroom stall, texting his dad, "just get me out of this school."

"You're angry and you're upset, you're frustrated," the boy's father said. "You take your kids to school and it should be a safe environment."

The boy's parents filed a report with Bartlesville police and took their son to the ER to be checked out.

"When it's your child, and you start to see a change in them because they're constantly terrorized, it's really upsetting," the father said.

He's OK physically; the hassles can be heartbreaking and take an emotional toll.

"It wasn't as bad in 6th grade," the boy said.

The parents want others to know bullying is a very real problem and they say not enough is being done to help those who've been bullied.

They want kids, parents, educators and everyone to know, bullying isn't funny, it's not cool, and it's not safe.

"It needs to end before it gets out of control, way out of control," the boy said.

At the very least, the boy's parents want teachers to pay more attention and parents to be more aware.

They'd like legislation that requires anyone caught bullying and their parents to undergo mandatory bullying awareness training.

Not a good sign when the headline includes the word 'latest'

From the CBS affiliate in Tulsa: "New Details Released In Latest Oklahoma Teacher Sex Scandal."

Vatican supporting parental rights

This could be a big boost for the rights of homeschooling parents.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nearly 4,000 submissions in the 'Stossel in the Classroom' essay contest

And the top five winners are homeschoolers.

School-bus chasers are here to help

After one person was injured recently in a school-bus accident in Oklahoma City, the experienced personal-injury lawyers at the Maples Law Firm helpfully reminded us that, hey, you know, school-bus accidents happen. And in case you've forgotten, they "have the potential to cause major injuries or even fatalities." Matter of fact,
Some of the common injuries suffered in Oklahoma City bus accidents include: broken bones, head injuries, back and neck injuries, and lacerations. ...

When a school bus accident occurs, the bus company and/or the school district may be held liable for the injuries caused to students, depending on the cause and circumstances of the crash. Injured victims can file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, hospitalization, physical therapy, and other related damages.

So if your child has been injured in a school bus accident, you can call these experienced personal injury lawyers -- toll-free! -- for a free consultation.

Not-so-great expectations

Some Oklahoma school officials "find it outrageous that a high school senior should have to master freshman math," The Oklahoman notes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

'Public schools to get voucher-created savings'

"Indiana public schools will divvy up $4.2 million in May, thanks in part to the state's private school voucher program," the Northwest Indiana Times reports.
Most private school students participating in the Choice Scholarship Program receive a voucher worth 90 percent of Indiana's per pupil funding for public school. State law requires the remaining 10 percent be paid to school corporations.

Among Northwest Indiana schools, Hammond will receive $60,297; Gary, $51,688; Crown Point, $27,025; Munster, $14,550; Portage Township, $32,078; Duneland, $21,701; and Valparaiso, $23,268.

State funds pay for nearly 4,000 students to attend private schools.

Teacher-union excesses 'more a symptom than a cause'

Our school-performance woes are not the union's fault, Andrew Coulson writes over at HuffPo. "It is the natural result of operating K-12 education as a fully state-funded monopoly."
[I]t is not an attack on government to observe that government is bad at running schools, anymore than it's an attack on shovels to note that they make lousy Web browsers. No single tool can do every job. Nor is it an attack on the ideals of public education to say that state monopolies are an ineffective way to pursue them. That's a confusion of ends and means. Public education is a not a particular pile of bricks or stack of regulations, it is a set of goals: universal access, preparation for participation in public life as well as success in private life, building harmony and understanding among communities.

If the true allegiance of reformist Democrats is to those ultimate ideals, then they should have no problem acknowledging that government monopolies are ill-suited to advancing them, and that teachers-union excesses are more a symptom than a cause of our monopoly-induced woes. Finding the best policies for advancing our educational ideals then becomes a practical, tractable problem. The participation of reformist Democrats in solving it will be a tremendous boon to the children they seek to help.

'School offers help and hope for OKC-area students with autism

Great story by Carla Hinton today in The Oklahoman.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homeschooling docs

Over at CNN, pediatrician Bethany M. Gardiner explains why she chose homeschooling, calling to mind the story of an Oklahoma City doc who did the same.

New online community discussing Henry Scholarships

There's a new Facebook page for parents, policymakers, and others interested in the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program for Children with Disabilities.

'School vouchers gain ground'

"Louisiana is poised to establish the nation's most expansive system of school choice by adopting a package of vouchers and other tools that would give many parents control over the use of tax dollars to educate their children," Stephanie Banchero reports today on page A3 of The Wall Street Journal.

"The initiative would effectively redefine vouchers, which have typically helped lower-income public-school students pay for private schools. Vouchers could now also be used by students to pay for state-approved apprenticeships at local businesses, as well as college courses and private online classes, while they are still in public schools."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Give parents preschool choices

In the latest issue of School Reform News, Ashley Bateman has an interesting story on early childhood education. She quotes Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum:
The problem is not getting children into childcare but to give families the means to keep a parent at home, or encourage a system where money follows the child. Put power in the hands of parents to choose programs that make sense for them rather than a one-size-fits-all government program. ...

The fallacy is that early childhood programs lead to better education outcomes, but unfortunately there’s very little evidence that holds true. And a lot of families make sacrifices to keep kids at home. The value a stay-at-home mom is providing is seen as less when you can put a kid in a building nine-to-five. If other people get subsidized daycare, government is picking one lifestyle choice over another.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Are Oklahoma school districts cheating?

According to a March 25 report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (‘Cheating our children: Suspicious school test scores across the nation’), “suspicious test scores in roughly 200 school districts resemble those that entangled Atlanta in the biggest cheating scandal in American history, an investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows."
The newspaper analyzed test results for 69,000 public schools and found high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast. The findings represent an unprecedented examination of the integrity of school testing.
The analysis doesn’t prove cheating. But it reveals that test scores in hundreds of cities followed a pattern that, in Atlanta, indicated cheating in multiple schools.
Says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: “These findings are concerning.”

According to the report—which has also attracted the attention of NPR (‘Evidence Builds Of Schools Cheating To Boost Students' Test Scores’) and The Atlantic (‘Investigation Finds Suspicious Achievement in Schools Across the Nation’)—“196 of the nation’s 3,125 largest school districts had enough suspect tests that the odds of the results occurring by chance alone were worse than one in 1,000.” These districts, in the AJC’s analysis, “appear to most resemble the pattern of test score jumps and drops found in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.” The Oklahoma districts on this list are Choctaw/Nicoma Park, Owasso, Stillwater, and Tulsa.

In addition, the AJC listed 10 Oklahoma districts which “do not match the Atlanta pattern as closely” but which “certainly deserve further examination.” These are: Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Edmond, Muskogee, Mustang, Norman, Oklahoma City, Sand Springs, Western Heights, and Yukon.

“Some school leaders accused of cheating have attributed steep gains to exemplary teaching,” the AJC notes. “But experts said instruction isn’t likely to move scores to the degree seen in the AJC’s analysis.” Through teaching alone, said James Wollack, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert in testing and cheating who reviewed the AJC’s work, “it’s going to be pretty tough to have that sort of an impact.”

“I can say with some confidence,” he said, “cheating is something you should be looking at.”

The AJC continues: “Statistical checks for extreme changes in scores are like medical tests, said Gary Phillips, a vice president and chief scientist for the large nonprofit American Institutes for Research, who advised the AJC on its methodology. ‘This is a broad screening,’ he said. ‘If you find something, you’re supposed to go to the doctor and follow up with a more detailed diagnostic process.’”

Many agree. The AJC reports that “a U.S. senator from Georgia and a national teacher union leader on Sunday called for investigations into possible cheating in school districts cited in an investigation into suspicious test scores by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“The indications of the report are troubling, to the point where these systems must follow up and see whether there is in fact impropriety,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
If these districts fail to do so, Isakson said the governors of the states should intervene. And should they drop the ball, “there may be a federal interest ... I don’t think Congress could look the other way.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the two major teachers’ unions, told the AJC that the findings suggest the need for more investigation in many school districts across the country.
“It should go to another level,” she said, such as systematic analysis of erasures on test papers and, if necessary, investigations by law enforcement officers—both of which helped prove widespread cheating in the Atlanta Public Schools.
“If the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s findings are valid, they certainly merit further inquiry, but we must also be cautious about painting with too broad a brush,” says Oklahoma state Superintendent Janet Barresi. “We will be looking closely at these findings, and consulting with state policy-makers and Oklahoma school administrators.”

Tulsa superintendent Keith Ballard, undisturbed by one-in-a-thousand odds, doesn’t think any diagnostic follow-up is necessary. “I am pleased with the growth that our students have shown,” he says, “and don’t see any validity in the story.” Move right along, folks, nothing to see here.

But Beth Johnson, a math teacher at Tulsa’s Hale High School, correctly points out that “if it doesn’t get fully investigated, then some people might leave thinking that it’s going on even if it wasn’t.”

She’s right. And if it is going on, it needs to stop. As the AJC reported, “The newspaper’s analysis suggests that tens of thousands of children may have been harmed by inflated scores that could have precluded tutoring or more drastic administrative actions.”

Over at The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead puts it well:
In the short run, the authorities should come down on the cheaters like a ton of bricks. Students need to see that cheaters don’t prosper. Longer term, the solution is to keep bringing education closer to the grass roots and to give parents more say in how and by whom their children are taught.

'The new face of public education'

Over at redefinED, Ron Matus writes:
[Rev. Manuel L. Sykes is] a Democrat. He’s president of the NAACP in St. Petersburg, Fla. He thinks public schools did a fine job with his kids.

Privatizing schools? Mention the idea to Sykes, who is pastor of Bethel Community Baptist Church, and you’ll get a slow burn about elitism, resegregation and crony capitalism.

But Sykes, 55, also supports vouchers and tax credit scholarships. And for folks who think they see a contradiction, he offers a quip and a laugh: "Stereotyping is a function of a lazy mind."

Sykes isn’t a leader in the school choice movement, but like thousands of others he quietly defies the story line. In that respect, he is symbolic of the new face of public education. It’s not public or private. It’s not liberal or conservative. It’s pragmatic.

"You can’t plant roses in every environment," Sykes told redefinED. "You have to find the right environment for that flower. Or that orange tree. Or that apple tree. If we're wise enough to know that with trees, why don’t we have the same common sense with children?"

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

'Home-school, private-school families win tax break'

The Associated Press reports that "proponents of helping parents send their children to private schools won approval Wednesday in the South Carolina House.
The bill would allow parents to take a $4,000 tax deduction per child for tuition paid, $2,000 for homeschool expenses and $1,000 per child who attends a public school outside the district where he or she lives. It would allow people to claim tax credits for donating to newly created nonprofits giving scholarships to poor and disabled students.

Religious bigotry and school choice

Ron Matus has an excellent post here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

'The Jewish case for school vouchers'

In today's Wall Street Journal, Peter Beinart says Jewish day schools are the key to a strong Jewish community.

UPDATE: Over at Cato, Andrew J. Coulson says "Jews Can Have Their Lekach and Eat it, Too."

'Former Atoka High School teacher charged with sex crimes against students'

The Oklahoman has the story.