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.