Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Must we tolerate homeschoolers?

Michael Farris has an excellent article, "Tolerance and Liberty: Answering the Academic Left's Challenge to Homeschooling Freedom," in a recent issue of the Peabody Journal of Education. Here's the abstract:
Millions of children in the United States are educated in the home. Millions more receive their education from private institutions. For parents, a common reason for seeking alternatives to public education is the desire to ensure that they receive instruction in accord with their religious beliefs. In many cases, these beliefs include exclusive claims about the nature of God, salvation, or morality. Recently, several scholars have argued that, to achieve a diverse and tolerant society, homeschooling and private education should be abolished or severely limited. They have contended that “a liberal multicultural education,” which will expose children to different ideas and perspectives, is necessary for the preservation of democratic values. Homeschooling, they claim, leads to close-mindedness and intolerance because children are taught to affirm certain beliefs which imply that not all other traditions are equally valid. The argument that homeschooling should be banned or severely restricted, however, relies on illiberal and intolerant premises that have already been discredited as inconsistent with our constitutional liberties. Although tolerance may be a valuable objective, it cannot be forcibly imposed by using the state's power to create philosophical homogeneity. True tolerance and diversity require a constitutional commitment to liberty for all, not a “constitutional norm” of silencing the “intolerant.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Oklahoma governor proclaims 'School Choice Week'

For the third year in a row, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has recognized National School Choice Week in Oklahoma. Here's the text of her proclamation:
Whereas, ensuring that Oklahoma has a well-educated public is of great importance to our state’s leaders; and

Whereas, all children should have access to an education which prepares them to be successful in private life and equips them for civic responsibility; and

Whereas, Oklahoma has a multitude of high-quality traditional public schools, charter schools, virtual schools, CareerTech schools, private and religious schools, home schools, and more; and

Whereas, these schools have many excellent teachers who are committed to educating children; and

Whereas, the vital cause of parental choice and empowerment is one that transcends ideology and political party affiliation; and

Whereas, research demonstrates conclusively that providing children with multiple schooling options improves academic performance;

Now, therefore, I, Mary Fallin, Governor of the State of Oklahoma, do hereby proclaim the week of January 26 through February 1, 2014 as

“Oklahoma School Choice Week”

In the State of Oklahoma.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Is it real or is it The Onion?

"An Oklahoma company says it has at least a partial solution to the epidemic of deadly school violence," News9.com reports.
OnAlert Guardian Systems says it's perfected a system that relies on sensors that operate by plugging each of them into a regular classroom wall socket.

Company Spokesman Michael Tennyson says if a gunshot is fired in a school, those sensors will automatically know if, and even the caliber of gun used. The system alerts 911 operators and law enforcement authorities immediately.

Tennyson says the first units will be installed in Yukon High School, Middle School, and an elementary school within the year.

 Horace Mann, call your office.

'Skiatook schools investigating inappropriate language in coach's text messages to students'

The Tulsa World has the story.

Friday, December 6, 2013

'Schools improve when leaders stop rationalizing mediocrity'

"If the superintendents of failing school districts were as adept at fixing schools as they are at making excuses for their poor performance, America would have the best education system in the world," Eric Hanushek and Paul Peterson write today.

Hanushek is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Peterson is professor of government at Harvard. They say that if U.S. students could reach the performance level of students in Canada, that feat alone "would increase our workers' incomes by an average of 20 percent. That growth would be a tremendous aid in balancing the federal budget without raising taxes or cutting spending."

Monday, December 2, 2013

'A new way to fund education'

In The Oklahoman, Heritage Foundation researchers Lindsey Burke and Brittany Corona discuss Education Savings Accounts.

Friday, November 22, 2013

School choice for Dhimmis


Opponents of school choice like to say that parents are free to choose any school they want, but if it's a faith-based school then parents have to pay for it themselves. This reminds me of something that Jay Greene recently wrote in another context:

So, the state only pays for its own vision of a good education but you have to pay extra if you want to pursue something else. This is roughly comparable to the status of Dhimmis (non-Muslims in an Islamic state) who are allowed to practice a different religion as long as they pay an extra tax. Doesn’t feel compatible with a free society, does it?

No, it doesn't. Sadly, in the Western Hemisphere, only Cuba and the United States do not routinely provide public support for parents to choose a faith-based school.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Should state funding require state accountability?

In a new piece over at Education Next, Jay P. Greene argues that "the oft-repeated claim that state funding requires accountability to the state is an obviously shallow and false political slogan rather than a well-considered policy view." After all,
Most state funded programs require no formal accountability to the state and instead rely primarily on the self-interest of the recipients to use the funds wisely. For example, the largest domestic program, social security, is designed to prevent seniors from lacking basic resources for housing, food, or clothing. But we don’t demand that seniors account for the use of their social security checks. They could blow it at the casino if they want. We’re just counting on the fact that most would have the good sense to make sure that their basic needs are covered first.

Even in the area of education most government programs require no formal accountability. Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and the Daycare Tuition Tax Credit do not require state testing for people using those funds. We just trust that the public purpose of subsidizing education will be served by people pursuing their own interests. Anyone who declares that state funding requires state accountability obviously hasn’t thought about this for more than 10 seconds.

'Proud history, perilous future for faith-based schools'

Here is an excellent new report.

'We now have hope'

See what these grandparents have to say about what a Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship has meant for their grandson.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Revolving door

It turns out that a former teacher in Porter, Oklahoma, who is now charged with sex offenses resigned from a teaching position in Drumright five years ago after a 17-year-old student told police that he had sex with her, the Tulsa World reports.

Friday, November 15, 2013

School choice, not 'anti-bullying' programs

A new study says anti-bullying programs may actually increase bullying. Whoops. As I never tire of repeating, bullied students need a life preserver right now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More than scores

An excellent new study from the Friedman Foundation analyzes how and why parents choose private schools. I encourage you to read it here.


Simulation: How a Parent Chooses a School for Their Child

Monday, November 11, 2013

For parental choice, all along the continuum

Universal pre-kindergarten is "every progressive’s fondest dream," Red Jahncke wrote last month in The Wall Street Journal ("The ‘Universal Pre-K’ Fallacy").

Whether it's the National Education Association with its call for early childhood education programs in the public schools for children from birth through age eight, or whether it's Mr. Obama talking about his "birth-to-five continuum," or the National Governors Association with its "birth-to-third-grade continuum," or New York City's Sandinista-loving Mayor Bill de Blasio with his push for universal pre-K, so-called progressives want your tax dollars and your kids.

But that's the wrong vision for one of the most conservative states in the nation. Here's a better idea: parental choice.

What is school choice?


Saturday, November 9, 2013

'Not good enough'

"Most American fourth- and eighth-graders still lack basic skills in math and reading despite record high scores on a national exam," AP education writer Kimberly Hefling reports over at Tulsa's channel 8.
Yes, today's students are doing better than those who came before them. But the improvements have come at a snail's pace. The 2013 Nation's Report Card released Thursday finds that the vast majority of the students still are not demonstrating solid academic performance in either math or reading. ... Overall, just 42 percent of fourth-graders and 35 percent of eighth-graders scored at or above the proficient level in math. In reading, 35 percent of fourth graders and 36 percent of eighth graders hit that mark. ...

This test specifically looked at the performance of American children, but the results from other recent assessments and studies have shown American children and adults scoring below peers in many other countries.

In Oklahoma, state superintendent Janet Barresi was pleased that some Oklahoma scores were on the upswing. "Overall, however, the NAEP report confirms what we’ve long known," she said. "Oklahoma students lag behind their national counterparts in these key subject areas."

The percentage of Oklahoma students scoring at or above proficiency is 36 percent in fourth-grade math and 25 percent in eighth-grade math, according to a press release from the state department of education. In reading, the percentage of Oklahoma students scoring at or above proficient is 30 percent in fourth grade and 29 percent in eighth-grade.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Catholic schools should reject the Common Core

"One hundred and thirty-two Catholic professors have sent a letter to each Roman Catholic bishop in the country pleading for them to reject the Common Core national standards in their parochial schools," Brittany Corona writes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A-F report 'argues for the irrelevancy of public schools'

A new report from researchers at OU and OSU which is highly critical of Oklahoma's A-F grading system is actually serving to "undermine the advocates of public education." This according to Robert Sommers, Oklahoma's secretary of education and workforce development, in a Tulsa World column today.

Sommers says the OU/OSU report "argues for the irrelevancy of public schools in general" and "could negatively impact public school advocates during the upcoming state budget process."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

School choice and parental satisfaction

According to the Council for American Private Education,
A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics confirms the fact that parents who choose their child’s school are indeed more satisfied with the school and its various characteristics than parents who are assigned a school by the government.

Oklahoma's performance problems are real, Fallin says

The shortcomings of Oklahoma's public education system are real, Gov. Mary Fallin points out in her latest column.
Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, for instance, shows that 73 percent of Oklahoma fourth graders are below proficient in reading and 66 percent are below proficient in math. Furthermore, when our high school graduates reach college, they are often doing so without the skill-sets needed to succeed in college courses. More than two in every five Oklahoma college students must take remedial courses, adding time and expense to their education, and making it more likely they will dropout without acquiring a degree.

'Why classical schools just might save America'

"It’s time for a partnership between religion and freedom," Owen Strachan writes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Interesting facts about faith-based schools

In the Western Hemisphere, only Cuba and the United States do not routinely provide public support for parents to choose a faith-based school as part of their public education systems.

That's just one of the interesting facts you'll find in this interesting post about faith-based schools.

For religious freedom

In today's Tulsa World, I argue for religious freedom on both the east and west sides of Lewis Avenue.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

'Military bases open their doors to homeschoolers'

"A growing number of military parents want to end the age-old tradition of switching schools for their kids," the Associated Press reports. "They've embraced homeschooling, and are finding support on bases, which are providing resources for families and opening their doors for home schooling cooperatives and other events."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Digital-learning roundup

"State legislatures scramble to boost, or in some cases block, online learning," Michael B. Horn writes.

U.S. adults have poor literacy, numeracy skills

"A particularly alarming report on working-age adults was published earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a coalition of mainly developed nations," The New York Times editorializes. "The research focused on people ages 16 to 65 in 24 countries. It dealt with three crucial areas: literacy — the ability to understand and respond to written material; numeracy — the ability to use numerical and mathematical concepts; and problem solving — the ability to interpret and analyze information using computers. Americans were comparatively weak-to-poor in all three areas."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Common Core distracting attention from serious school reform

"Discussions of the Common Core standards are actually sucking all of the air out of the room," writes Hoover Institution fellow Eric A. Hanushek, "distracting attention from any serious efforts to reform our schools."
One might interpret the emphasis on developing the Common Core curriculum as an effort to divert debate away from more intractable fights over bigger reform ideas like improved teacher evaluations, expanded school choice, or enhanced accountability systems. While I support better learning standards, we cannot be distracted from more fundamental reform of our schools. The future economic well-being of the United States is entirely dependent on improving the academic achievement and skills of today’s students, but Common Core will do little to ensure this.

Thefts and assaults against teachers 'not uncommon' in OKC

The Oklahoman has the story. Horace Mann, bless his heart, just didn't see this coming.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Notre Dame law professor says Common Core more important than Obamacare

"Look at today's newspapers and you will see that Americans are poised to fundamentally reform two huge sectors of our lives," writes Gerard V. Bradley, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

He believes Common Core -- "a wholesale education revision that shortchanges the central goals of all sound education" -- is a bigger deal than Obamacare.

Barresi sees growing interest in vouchers

At around the 9:00 mark.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Some reforms make us feel good -- even if they don't work


Poor, starving children in Africa are not actually helped by our finishing all of the food on our plates, Jay Greene reminds us. Likewise, our futile efforts to fix public schools that don't want to be fixed aren't actually helping the students in those schools.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

School-spending transparency needed

"Do you know how much it costs to educate a student in Oklahoma?" asks Jason Bedrick of the Cato Instute. "It's likely more than you think."

From 'school choice' to 'educational choice'


Stories from some of the first families to enter Arizona's innovative Education Savings Account program illustrate "how life-changing the ESAs have been," writes Lindsey M. Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation.

"Two years ago we weren’t even sure if we were ever going to have a conversation with him," says Amanda Howard, mother of second-grader Nathan. "He is in a private school now for kids with developmental delays. . . . He reads now. He is reading a little below grade level. But he likes math. He is working above grade level for math. And he really loves social studies; he knows all the 50 states. So it is really exciting to see all the progress he has made verbally and being able to communicate, and that he is actually making a lot of academic progress." ...

ESAs represent a complete reimagination of what it means to finance education publicly. They represent a shift from the very worthwhile goal of school choice to educational choice, the future of school choice.

As more states across the country consider ways to provide school-choice options to families, ESAs should be at the top of their lists. And states with existing voucher or tuition-tax-credit programs should consider expanding the allowable uses of funds and transitioning them to more flexible ESAs.

"When you find out your kid has autism, you go through a stage where you think you are all alone," says Nathan’s father. "But then people slowly, but surely, point out different things. The ESA is one of those things."

Fleeing Common Core

... into the more rigorous territory of classical education.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Christian education is a 'public' education

"Based on the evidence," writes James K.A. Smith, "we keep pointing out that a Christian education is a 'public' education and serves the common good — more, in fact, than so-called 'public' (i.e., state-run) schools do."

No grandiose ideas, please, we're monopolists

The state's largest newspaper has an excellent editorial taking some local superintendents to task for their opposition to common-sense education reforms. I encourage you to read it here.

"I'm not one for grandiose ideas.
Just send money."
One of the superintendents mentioned is Pat Harrison of Ada. He is on record complaining that state Supt. Janet Barresi advocates "grandiose ideas we all can tell immediately are not going to work." Now, to his credit, Mr. Harrison does appear to be an expert on ideas that don't work. He is paid $117,423 annually to oversee a school district which produces students with reading and math performance worse than that of the typical student in the average developed country. For example, the math achievement of the average student in Ada is at the 40th percentile relative to an international comparison group. If one were to pick up the Ada school district and drop it into Canada, the average Ada student would be at the 31st percentile in math achievement.

At a time when many taxpayers are asking why Kathleen Sebelius still has a job, there are plenty of other tax-funded bureaucrats who need to devote more attention to delivering a better product.

Henry scholarships protect special-needs kids

For some parents, the scholarship is a godsend.

'The state’s education monopoly increases prices and destroys choice'

Here's an excerpt from Ron Paul's new book, The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System.

The federal takeover of Catholic education

Via Common Core.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Arizona ESA families in a nutshell

Are Arizona families satisfied with education savings accounts?

Oklahoma students beating up students, teachers

A Senate education panel explores student discipline problems in Oklahoma. Poor Horace Mann never saw this coming.

P20 jumps the shark

"P20" was offensive enough when it meant preschool through graduate school. Now an education bureaucrat informs us the "P" stands for "prenatal."

Public education is changing

"Make no mistake," Blanchard superintendent Jim Beckham warned darkly in a recent column for the Waurika News-Democrat, "there are those people and entities out there that are determined to discredit and even destroy Oklahoma’s current public school system."

In truth, of course, it’s the evidence itself which is discrediting the system. For example, the Blanchard school district, which Mr. Beckham is paid $120,836 annually to oversee, produces students with math performance worse than that of the typical student in the average developed country. The math achievement of the average student in Blanchard is at the 37th percentile relative to an international comparison group. If one were to pick up the Blanchard school district and drop it into Canada, the average Blanchard student would be at the 29th percentile in math achievement.

"What is this newfangled 
concept called choice?"
The good news is that, even though Mr. Beckham doesn’t seem to understand it, the times are changing. In 2013, “public education” means we want an “educated public” — and it doesn’t matter where that education takes place. Far from wanting to harm public education, many of us want to strengthen Oklahoma’s current system — a system wherein parents have a choice among traditional public schools, charter schools, virtual schools, private and religious schools, homeschooling, and more.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

OKC charter school under investigation

"A charter school for high-risk students championed by former Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer is under investigation for possible academic and financial misconduct," Tim Willert reports in The Oklahoman.

'Vindictive and rapacious'

The latest attack on special-needs children who suffered in public schools.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

'Why are families choosing to leave?'

A special-needs scholarship has "made a world of difference" for Trent Kimery, his mother tells the NewsOn6. But opponents of the scholarship program are unmoved, and are headed to court again in another attempt to kill the program. As The Oklahoman explains,
Their lawsuit's core argument is this: Government officials know better how to care for most children than their parents do.

The lawsuit, filed by 12 individuals in their capacity as private citizens (although six are current or former school administrators), seeks to have the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships law declared unconstitutional. The law, in effect since 2010, allows the use of state funds (already designated for the individual education of children with special needs) to be used to pay tuition at a private school.

In their petition, the plaintiffs claim that only six of 49 participating private schools “provide comprehensive special education services to their enrolled students and none provide the full panoply of special education services provided by the public schools of this state.”

This raises a basic question. If public school services are so superior (Wow — a “full panoply”!), then why are families choosing to leave? The experience of Phylicia Lewis, who used her scholarship to attend Town & Country in Tulsa, provides an answer. Lewis compared her public school to “walking into a battlefield.” She was bullied and spent her days crying. Now, she's thriving. Her mother calls it a “joy to know that Phylicia doesn't have to worry about whether or not she can receive an education.”

Phylicia and Trent are not the only students benefiting from a Henry Scholarship. I encourage you to learn about others in this brief video.



The record on vouchers and tax credits

... is not mixed.

National School Choice Week set to break records in 2014


Former Tulsa teacher arrested for sex crimes

NewsOn6.com has the story.  

UPDATE: One former student says the teacher's advances toward her "made her uncomfortable, so she dropped the class and went to the school counselor. But she said nothing was done."

Monday, October 7, 2013

'Oklahoma City private school teaches hope where little exists'

"Positive Tomorrows, an elementary school in Oklahoma City, caters to homeless children by providing everything from shoes to swim lessons," Tim Willert reports for The Oklahoman.

Unprepared for college

More than a quarter of the Oklahoma graduating seniors who took the ACT test "were unprepared for college-level work in any subject the test covers," Silas Allen reports in The Oklahoman. "The largest share of Oklahoma students — 29 percent — met none of the benchmarks on the ACT, indicating those students are unprepared for college courses."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

'Common Core is already destroying options for parents'

"Common Core is doing for school choice," Greg Forster says, "what Henry Ford did for automobile color choice."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Substitute teacher accused of being drunk, passed out

"Oklahoma County Sheriff's deputies arrested a substitute teacher after students reported she was intoxicated and passed out in a classroom office at Millwood High School," News9 reports.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Special-needs scholarships under fire again

"A group of 12 Oklahomans filed a lawsuit in state court Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of a law that allows the use of public funds to send special-needs students to private schools," Kim Archer reports for the Tulsa World. The petition is here.

State Rep. Jason Nelson tells the Tulsa World:
I first heard about the lawsuit against the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program from a parent late this afternoon who is concerned about what will happen to her child now.

The lawsuit appears to be a regurgitation of the lawsuit filed by Jenks and Union Public Schools that was tossed out by the Oklahoma Supreme Court just last fall.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by President Obama's administration against a similar law in Louisiana.

The opposition here and in the Louisiana case appears to be about an ideological hostility to the rights of parents to direct the education of their children -- not about legitimate legal concerns.

This is clear in the lawsuit filed today. The lead plaintiff is employed by a private religiously affiliated university that was allocated more than $380,000 in state funds through the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant program (OTEG) for the current academic year. OTEG is virtually identical to the Henry Scholarship. The lead plaintiff hasn't challenged the OTEG law that he benefits from but is challenging the Henry Scholarship. I would be embarrassed.

There are many state programs that do exactly what the plaintiffs here claim is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs simply can't see that this is not about funding institutions but about ensuring children get the best education possible regardless of where they get that education.

I look forward to working with Supt. Barresi, Attorney General Pruitt and other supporters to vigorously defend the law.

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program is a constitutional, common-sense law that benefits the students using the program, the public school system, and the taxpayers. I'm confident the law will ultimately be upheld.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Quote of the day

"Teacher tenure is by far the most corrupt social institution in our time, because it doesn't reward excellence or weed out bad teachers." 
-- Bob Funk, president and founder of Express Employment Services, who served for 11 years on his local school board

'Cut waste and pay teachers'

In his latest column in The Journal Record, OCPA president Michael Carnuccio points to Oklahoma's recent growth in administrative overhead (see chart) and says there's plenty of money for teacher pay raises.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slowing the school-choice momentum

"The Common Core controversy seems to have sucked the air out of an exploding school choice movement," Joy Pullmann writes.

Looking forward to National School Choice Week 2014


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Swedish homeschoolers living in exile on Finnish island

Because homeschooling is illegal in Sweden.

Education Savings Accounts bring hope

Education Savings Accounts are bringing hope to adopted children, my Arizona compadre Jonathan Butcher writes.
Three children, given up for dead at birth. Two girls and a boy, all of Native American descent. Even if they survived, one would suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome and the physical and mental challenges that this condition causes for the rest of her life, while the two others would struggle with cerebral palsy.

Yet with Education Savings Accounts they are now able to access a variety of education services, including therapy.

It's small wonder that Heritage Foundation analyst Lindsey Burke says ESAs are Arizona's "new frontier for education."

Financially 'starved'?

"Oklahoma school district administrators not eager to discuss carry-over funds," The Oklahoman points out in an excellent editorial.
In 2007, Oklahoma school districts started the state's fiscal year with a combined $460 million in carry-over funds. This year, the carry-over total is up to $771 million, a 67 percent increase that significantly outpaces inflation. Why is so much more being held back? What do schools plan to do with the extra money? Answers to these questions are in short supply.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Special-needs scholarships nothing new

The Tulsa World reports that Oklahoma special-needs vouchers totaled $1.6 million last year. Altogether, however, the total is actually much higher.

And that's good news.

Tulsa Public Schools has its own police department

According to the CBS affiliate in Tulsa, "there were 256 incidents involving weapons in the 2011/12 school year, and that dropped by 28 last year."

This is not the way Horace Mann drew it up.

Does QRIS predict learning?

In a new Heartland Institute article ("Most States Use Useless Preschool Ratings, Study Finds"), Ashley Bateman writes:
Twenty-six states rate preschools with a system that doesn’t identify quality institutions, finds a new study Science journal published in August.

The Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is the most widespread preschool rating system, and it has been spreading as states increase government preschool subsidies. The problem? Researchers find QRIS doesn’t actually tell whether a particular preschool benefits kids.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The richest, most powerful nation in world history

... has mediocre schools.


Facing the facts



"Anyone who faces the facts knows the public education system is failing our children," OCPA distinguished fellow Andrew Spiropoulos writes.

Nationally, since 1970, we have nearly tripled how much we spend per student from kindergarten to 12th grade. In Oklahoma, since 1990, we have increased common education spending an astounding 40 percent, amounting to billions of dollars of new spending. 

What has been the return on our massive investment? Student achievement has flat-lined, with no significant improvement in the last two decades. The latest round of ACT scores showed that only 23 percent of Oklahoma seniors were prepared for college work in the core subjects of English, reading, science, and math. A significantly higher percentage, 29 percent, could not demonstrate college readiness in a single one of these subjects.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

'It matters more how the money is spent than how much is spent'

"The U.S. spends on average $12,000 per pupil in grades K-12, one of the highest amounts in the world," Paul Peterson and Eric Hanushek write today in The Wall Street Journal. "Among U. S. states, increments in spending per pupil between 1990 and 2010 show no correlation with changes in student performance."
In Wyoming and New York, spending levels per pupil climbed at one of the fastest rates without getting any extra gains in student achievement over this time period. Florida was among the most rapidly improving states, even though inflation-adjusted state expenditures per pupil hardly changed. It matters more how the money is spent than how much is spent. Expensive but ineffective policies such as class size reduction, while valued by current school personnel, have not raised achievement. Better accountability, more school choice, market-based teacher compensation and retention policies can on the other hand boost achievement without adding materially to school costs.

More spending won't help students learn more. Of course, Oklahomans (by a two-to-one margin) already know that.

'A sad story of public schools that are totally dysfunctional'

Mwangi S. Kimenyi, a senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution, is writing about Kenya -- but education reformers will be quick to spot the many similarities to America's education system.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

'The civil rights issue of our day'


Gov. Bobby Jindal is on the side of the angels. The Obama Administration is not.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Good news / bad news on charters

"Advocates sell charter schools as a way to improve education, but evidence is mounting that charters eat into private school enrollment," Joy Pullmann reports for WORLD magazine. "This may damage opportunities for kids, as research consistently shows religious schools, which constitute most private institutions, educate children better than charter and traditional public schools."
This spring, the Census Bureau reported U.S. private school enrollment at a 55-year low, and attributed the slide largely to charter schools—experimental public schools free from some regulations. They sprouted in 1992. Other studies have concluded similarly: A 2006 study found that for every three students a charter school gains, private schools will lose one. Families that pick private and charter schools are similar, said study co-author Ron Zimmer: They typically have two parents and better-educated fathers. This suggests charters and private schools compete more against each other than against traditional public schools, he said.

“You hear [private schools] saying good times are not coming back,” said Michael Horn, education director at the Clayton Christensen Institute. Horn believes competition will “take out the low end in the market of independent schools over the next several years.” Suburban, city, and large private schools have been hardest hit by charter school competition, and especially inner-city Catholic schools, the Census Bureau found.

In 2011, Seacoast Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., turned its K-5 classes into Seacoast Charter Academy, dropping its weekly chapel service. A number of Catholic schools have become charter schools, removing crucifixes from walls and ending daily recitations of the Lord’s Prayer.

This shift may reduce the quality of school options families have, as students enrolled in religious schools are academically a year ahead of their charter and traditional public school peers, according to a 2012 analysis of 90 studies.

As some private schools have shed overtly religious elements in their attempt to keep students, others have begun to mimic charters by diving into technology and online learning.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Study reveals how Arizona parents use education savings accounts

According to a news release from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "parents enrolled in Arizona’s one-of-a-kind education savings accounts (ESA) program used their children’s portion of state funds to purchase a variety of educational services outside public schools, according to a new report that is the first to analyze ESA data from the Arizona Department of Education."
Participating parents also saved one-third of their children’s K-12 schooling funds, likely in anticipation of future education expenses.

Arizona’s ESA program, called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, served 153 enrollees following its creation in 2011, growing to more than 300 students in the 2012-13 school year. Data on 316 ESA recipients were provided by the Arizona Department of Education to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and author Lindsey Burke, who found nearly 66 percent used ESA dollars for one service (private schooling) whereas some 34 percent utilized multiple education options. Of the nearly $2.9 million in ESA funds distributed from the 2011-12 school year to the first quarter of the 2012-13 school year, more than $1 million went unspent by parents. Those funds can be deposited into college savings plans.

Parents receive ESA funds via restricted-use debit cards loaded with approximately 90 percent of what the state reserved for their children in the public school system. ESA parents must submit to the Arizona Department of Revenue receipts for their preceding quarter expenditures to obtain funds for the coming quarter. Burke found that outside of private school tuition, families used ESA funds for online learning courses, curricula, private tutoring, and education therapies, all approved by the Arizona Department of Education.

“Children’s learning opportunities shouldn’t be restricted to just a traditional classroom, particularly if students’ needs could be served better outside those walls,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation, said. “And when parents are empowered to meet their children’s needs, they do so in a more financially meticulous way than well-intentioned bureaucrats.”

Data in “The Education Debit Card: What Arizona Parents Purchase with Education Savings Accounts” also reveal to what extent parents took advantage of the ESA program’s unique roll-over option. In the 2011-12 school year, 43 percent of distributed ESA funds were saved by families; in the first quarter of the 2012-13 school year, that number was around 26 percent. Burke said that shows education savings accounts encourage parents and schools to be cost-conscious.

“Once parents have the freedom to shop around based on their own cost-benefit analysis, they make decisions that take into account both financial considerations and educational quality,” said Burke, who also serves as the Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. “The traditional public school system does not allow for the type of customization from which so many children would benefit.”

In the 2013-14 school year, ESA eligibility expanded to include students from low-income families attending public schools graded D and F under the state’s accountability system, those from active military families, and foster children—more than 220,000 students. This past legislative session, Arizona state lawmakers increased eligibility again by allowing incoming kindergartners to qualify for the ESA program. Parent testimonials in “The Education Debit Card” report indicate ESA participants are satisfied with the program.

“We gear (our child’s) education around his needs and abilities; it is all personalized to what he can do, how he learns, what his interests are,” one ESA parent said. “Everything we do is personalized to his needs and learning style. The ESA has made (that) financially possible.”

“The Education Debit Card: What Arizona Parents Purchase with Education Savings Accounts” is available at edchoice.org/EdDebitCard.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Common Core undermines school choice

"If the SAT and ACT are aligned to Common Core," Jason Bedrick explains, "then private schools will have little choice but to align as well."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Free to choose

Former Gov. Brad Henry, state Rep. Jason Nelson, and state school board member Bill Price
Oklahoma's special-needs students now have a choice.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Former Oklahoma teacher sentenced

A former Putnam City teacher has been sentenced to four years in prison for having sex with a student, The Oklahoman reports.

Friday, July 12, 2013

#NarrativeFail

Private schools produce more tolerant schools than public schools, Jay Greene reminds us.

Oh, you mean you expect them to read?


















Over at the OCPA blog, I point out the silliness of demanding that we "fund the reforms."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Are charter schools a step in the right direction?

"Here are two things that everyone interested in education should know: some of the top performing schools in the country are charter schools, and, on average, charters do not perform significantly better than traditional public schools," Andrew J. Coulson writes.

Charter schools "might still be considered a step in the direction of educational freedom because they are modestly more free than traditional public schools," Coulson continues.

Might be, but perhaps shouldn’t be. The long term problem with charters is two-fold: first, they are cannibalizing the enrollment of the genuinely independent school sector; and second, they are likely to be re-regulated over time.

No system of government-funded elementary or secondary schooling in the history of the world has ever remained independent in the long term. Controls on who can teach and what must be taught are typical. For-profit operation is usually prohibited. Indeed, this was the history of America’s own public schools. In the late 1800s, public schools were generally more autonomous than charter schools are today. But, over time, the officials overseeing them sought and obtained ever more power at ever-higher levels of government. There is no reason to expect the trajectory of charter schools to differ appreciably from this pattern. So, a few generations hence, they should be expected to have subsumed most of the existing private schools and regulated them in much the same way as regular public schools are regulated today. They will, in other words, move us from a 90 percent government education monopoly to a 99 or 100 percent government education monopoly. Not an improvement.

Advocates of educational freedom would be well advised to look for alternative policies that can ensure universal access to the educational marketplace without using government dollars and without suffocating the independent education sector.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are Coburn and Inhofe 'spreading lies'?


A blogger for Stand for Children Oklahoma, a group which strongly supports the Common Core State Standards, recently claimed that certain conspiracy theorists are guilty of fear-mongering and spreading lies about Common Core. Just exactly who these conspiracy theorists are (Heritage? Cato? RNC? HSLDA?) I have thus far been unable to determine. One can only hope Stand for Children Oklahoma is not accusing Oklahoma's two U.S. senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, of "spreading lies."
  

Friday, May 31, 2013

'Common Core hurts school choice'

Greg Forster, a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, makes the case here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scholars with sippy cups

Credit: ChoiceMedia.tv
I've noted before how liberals matter-of-factly acknowledge that public schools "provide not just education, but basic child care" and are "a reliable source of child care." Oklahoma's largest newspaper, in an April 29, 2012 "Education & careers" supplement, averred that Oklahoma is "the leader in early childcare education." And career-advice counselor Penelope Trunk has argued that "the U.S. school system is really just the biggest babysitting institution in the world."

Now the good folks over at Choice Media are out with a new segment asking the question: "Is State-Funded Preschool Actually Daycare?"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Group warns of mendacious conspiracy theorists

Stand for Children Oklahoma is an organization which strongly supports the Common Core State Standards. In a recent blog post, the group's government affairs director, Amber England, warned darkly: "There’s a faction of conspiracy theorists spreading lies about Common Core State Standards. Some lawmakers have bought into their fear mongering and are now about to flip-flop on the courageous stand they took for higher standards for Oklahoma students in 2010."
 
Over the weekend I left a comment on that particular blog post, but, oddly enough, it went unpublished. Given that my comment relates in part to school choice, I will publish it here:

Informative post. But when you speak of conspiracy theorists who are guilty of fear-mongering and spreading lies, to whom are you referring?

Are you referring to Heritage Foundation scholar Lindsey Burke, who, in 2011 testimony before the Common Education Committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, urged Oklahoma to “push back against this unprecedented federal overreach into what is taught in your local classrooms”? I happen to know her testimony was persuasive to many lawmakers. Are you saying she was fear-mongering and spreading lies?

Or are you referring to another Common Core opponent, the Home School Legal Defense Association? Lord knows those folks can light up the switchboards, and state lawmakers almost always take notice. But are you saying the homeschoolers are lying?

Or are you referring to the Republican National Committee, which last month passed a resolution opposing the Common Core?

Exactly which Common Core opponents — Cato Institute? American Association of Christian Schools?  — are spreading lies? Is it the education task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council? Is it the various free-market think tanks across the country? Is it University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene, who says Common Core is hostile to school choice? (Update: Is it Sen. Tom Coburn? Is it Sen. Jim Inhofe?)

Or are you referring to American Federation of Teachers boss Randi Weingarten, who last month suggested a time-out on the stakes associated with Common Core tests?

All of these people (with the exception of Weingarten) are my friends and allies, and none of them are given to fear-mongering or spreading lies.

UPDATE: Alas, it turns out that deceiving and denigrating wasn't such a great strategy after all.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Don't want to damage their self-esteem

The Oklahoman reminds us that many Oklahoma schools "now have either formal or informal minimum-grade policies requiring teachers to give students at least a 50 even when a student doesn't turn in homework."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cole introduces tax-deduction bill for homeschoolers

Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole yesterday introduced H.R. 1850, the Home School Equity Act for Tax Relief, according to a press release from his office.
This legislation allows home school families to receive the same tax deduction currently offered to elementary and secondary teachers for education expenses. Currently, home school families are only eligible for this tax credit in states where they are defined as “private” schools; H.R. 1850 would make this definition apply to all fifty states.
 
“Home school students have increasingly become recognized for their academic achievement and high performance levels,” said Congressman Cole. “As valuable contributors to our nation’s academic future and with more than 1.5 million students nationwide, it makes sense that home school families should also receive this tax credit.

“Choosing to educate children at home is not an easy or inexpensive decision for parents. It requires hours of time teaching and planning, commitment by at least one parent to stay at home and thousands of dollars spent for educational supplies each year. For families in many communities, home schooling is also the only alternative to failing public schools. In order for families to continue providing quality education at home, it is essential that they have the best resources for that success.

“Home school families are directly training up the next generation of leaders. We should support their continued success.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

'Controlling population and public education'

"It is likely that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will continue its commitment to global population control, and now, curriculum creation in the nation’s schools because they truly believe that they know better than anyone else how we all should live," writes Professor Anne Hendershott. "The Core Curriculum is really just another component of population control — it is used to help teach children the 'facts' about climate change and problems of overpopulation."

All of which is sufficiently evil in and of itself, but what's interesting for the purposes of this blog "are concerns that the imposition of the Common Core within the public schools could threaten the autonomy of private schools, religious schools, and home schools. 

An op-ed published in the Orange County Register by Robert Holland, claims that the Common Core could "morph into a national curriculum that will stifle the family-centered creativity that has fostered high rates of achievement and growth for home education…Many private and parochial schools — including those of the 100 Roman Catholic dioceses across the nation, already are adopting the CCSS prescriptions for math and English classes…Their debatable reasoning is that the rush of most state governments to embrace the national standards means publishers of textbooks and tests will fall in line, thereby leaving private schools with no practical alternatives for instructional materials. According to October 8, 2012 article in Education Week by Erik Robelin, it is not just Catholic schools that are adopting the Common Core, some Lutheran and other denominations of Christian schools are shifting to the Common Core, including Grand Rapids Christian in Michigan and the Christian Academy School System in Louisville, KY. According to Robelin, parochial school leaders claim that they must 'remain competitive' with public schools and now feel pressured to adopt the Core. These are real concerns. As Diane Ravitch points out, 'Now that David Coleman, the primary architect of the Common Core standards has become president of the College Board, we can expect that SAT will be aligned to the standards. No one will escape their reach, whether they attend public or private school.'"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Indiana mom says Common Core limits school choice

"As a parent whose children attend a parochial, voucher-accepting school," an Indiana mom says, "I have learned about the Voucher-Common Core link the hard way — in the form of changes to my child's curriculum."

School choice a key part of Women's Lib 2.0

Twentysomething Tina Dzurisin explains.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Celebrate diversity

The Oklahoma League of Women Voters describes itself as a "nonpartisan political organization" which "works to increase understanding of major public policy issues." To that end, the League is presenting a panel discussion this evening on the topic of education spending. As you can tell by the list of panelists, topics, and sponsors, the League went out of its way to include people from both sides of the issue -- people who think the current failed monopoly deserves more money, and people who think it deserves tons more money.

A tip of the cap to this liberal organization for making this a nonpartisan affair -- both liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans should feel right at home.

Friday, April 5, 2013

More undercounting

The government's "official" per-pupil spending figures do not incorporate the full cost of teacher pensions, Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation writes.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Taxpayers ponying up for K-12 education. Again

"Almost four out of 10 Oklahoma high school alumni who enroll in the state's higher education system the fall after graduation take at least one developmental course as college freshmen," the Tulsa World reports.

'18 reasons why doctors and lawyers homeschool their children'

A pediatrician explains.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Expand the 'school choice' conversation

"School choice is the great white hope on the right," Ben Domenech writes ("The Right Needs an ETSY Earner Agenda"), "but they should expand their normal conversation about it to include the parent trigger and education savings accounts which can be used toward Pre-K or toward child care."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ed prof gives 'generally positive evaluation of homeschooling'

In the April issue of First Things, Mary McConnell reviews Homeschooling in America: Capturing and Assessing the Movement by Joseph Murphy. "A professor of education at Vanderbilt, Murphy is a social scientist, not an advocate, which makes his generally positive evaluation of homeschooling all the more significant," McConnell writes.
His survey of the social science literature on the topic usefully, if sometimes turgidly, compiles the growing evidence that homeschooled children learn more than their counterparts, at least to the extent that standardized tests measure learning, and are emotionally healthier as well, at least to the extent that psychologists' "self-esteem and self-concept" scales truly capture emotional health. They volunteer many more hours in their communities and even spend more time participating in extracurricular activities.

While these findings have been widely reported, some of the other studies he describes deserve more attention. For example, low-income children who are homeschooled often reach or exceed national academic averages, whereas the average low-income children in public schools score "considerably below" the national norm.

Likewise, homeschooling seems to mitigate the negative effects of low levels of parents' education on student achievement—a finding that’s especially intriguing since these parents are the educators—as well as the negative effects of family socioeconomic variables and race displayed in public schools. It's easy to postulate that homeschooling parents are unusually committed, but these results still challenge the prevailing orthodoxy that societal problems inevitably hold education hostage.

Duncan families thankful for homeschool freedom

"We have leaders in our state that are friendly to homeschooling."

Friday, March 15, 2013

The high cost of substitute teachers

"U.S. teachers take off an average of 9.4 days (roughly 1 day per month) each during a typical 180-day school year," June Kronholz writes in Education Next. "By that estimate, the average child has substitute teachers for more than six months of his school career."

Duke University researchers Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, and Jacob Vigdor "found that being taught by a sub for 10 days a year has a larger effect on a child’s math score than if he’d changed schools, and about half the size of the effect of poverty," Kronholz adds. "Columbia researchers Mariesa Herrmann and Jonah Rockoff concluded that the effect on learning of using a substitute for even a day is greater than the effect of replacing an average teacher with a terrible one, that is, a teacher in the 10th percentile for math instruction and the 20th percentile in English instruction."

The best 'early childhood education'

Begins at home.

Is homeschooling a universal human right?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shelton proposes vouchers 'if parents feel their children are unsafe'

"Parents who object to their local public schools' arming teachers and administrators could send their children to private schools at state expense under legislation filed Monday by Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City," Randy Krehbiel reports in the Tulsa World. And though Rep. Shelton and I are coming at this from different points of view, I agree with his statement that "if parents feel their children are unsafe ... then schools should provide vouchers so kids can go elsewhere."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Any Oklahoma child can learn

"KIPP and Ryal prove that any child can learn," the state's largest newspaper observes. "Poverty isn't what's preventing educational achievement."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Trampling our freedom

"The most recent ploy to separate taxpayers from their hard-earned dollars and render them criminals comes in the form of school truancy laws," writes constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead.
Disguised as well-meaning attempts to resolve attendance issues in the schools, these truancy laws are nothing less than stealth maneuvers aimed at enriching school districts and court systems alike through excessive fines and jail sentences, while the ones being singled out for punishment—more often than not from middle- to low-income families—are the very ones who can least afford it.

Under this increasingly popular system of truancy enforcement, instead of giving students detention or some other in-school punishment for “unauthorized” absences, schools are now opting to fine parents and force them or their kids to serve jail time. (“Unauthorized” is the key word here, of course, since schools retain the right to determine whether an absence sanctioned by a parent or even a doctor is acceptable.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oklahoma sixth-grader brings loaded gun to school

"Police have arrested a Moore student after finding a loaded handgun at an elementary school," the Associated Press reports.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Capitol Day to highlight parental options

On March 25 the Oklahoma state capitol will be buzzing with parents and students who understand the importance of having educational options. This important “Capitol Day”—which already has 346 RSVP’s—is being sponsored by an organization called PublicSchoolOptions.org. The organizers have graciously extended an invitation for all Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship parents, students, and friends to join them as well.

For more information, contact Lauren Marshall at 918-361-0397 or laurenmarshall at cox dot net.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Norman parents point to 'another Sandusky event'

"The Valentine's Day arrest of a former Norman teacher's aide on a lewd molestation charge has some parents fuming," Randy Ellis reports in The Oklahoman.
Parents say for more than a decade they have warned Norman school administrators and local police about violent and inappropriate conduct toward children by Christopher Ray Flores while he was a teacher's aide at Norman's Wilson Elementary School. They claim their complaints were ignored and covered up.

"You have another Sandusky event," said Norman parent Kristofer Russow, referring to former Penn State University assistant football coach and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. "The warnings that we put out regarding this individual went completely unheeded."

Flores was charged with lewd molestation Feb. 13 after a relative complained Flores had molested her 9-year-old son.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Only 1 in 5 Americans say high-school graduates prepared for college

According to the latest Rasmussen survey, only 18 percent of likely U.S. voters believe most high school graduates have the skills needed for college.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pre-K girls wander away from Guthrie school

Two pre-kindergarten students wandered away from a Guthrie elementary school, The Oklahoman reports.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

'These lockdowns scare the children'

A retired schoolteacher, raised back east but now living in Edmond, magnanimously respects the right of poor benighted souls to possess firearms "for hunting and self-protection." But what's interesting for the purposes of this blog is what she says about lockdown drills: 
I've held too many in my career. I've had SWAT team practices in my schools after hours to prepare local police for a mass shooting. Do you know how difficult it is to explain to students that they need to practice hiding in their classrooms from those who possess weapons whose sole purpose is the mass shooting of the innocent? These lockdowns alone scare the children.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

School Choice Week is in full swing

Here's my recent conversation with OETA's Dick Pryor.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Gov. Fallin proclaims School Choice Week


Recognizing the importance of traditional public schools, charter schools, and nonpublic schools (including home schools), Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed next week to be School Choice Week in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma parents already have some school choices, and here's hoping they will have many more in the future. Here's one 60-second reminder of why it's important:



Friday, January 18, 2013

OKC policy 'truly dismaying'

According to Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation for Teachers, there's an unofficial policy in the Oklahoma City school district which prevents giving students any grade lower than a 50.

"Reports of a 50 percent grade rule are truly dismaying," the state's largest newspaper rightly says. "That practice would discourage students who actually do their course work and are graded accordingly."

Friday, January 11, 2013

'Public school finances make Enron look like a model of transparency'

So writes Robert Maranto in the Journal of School Choice, reviewing Marguerite Roza's book Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go?
Under our highly complex systems of school finance and resource allocations, policy-makers, educators, and taxpayers simply do not know what if any strategy drives particular spending decisions, or how costs and outcomes compare across programs. In public education we are all, quite literally, flying blind.

In 1912, Kentucky 8th-graders had to know stuff

How would today's 8th-graders perform on this test from a century ago?

Lockdown High?

Elementary-school children in Tulsa are learning how to handle school shootings, and in Oklahoma City the schools are considering implementing intruder drills or lockdown drills. "Will Newtown lead to 'Lockdown High," Gene Healy asks.

Meanwhile, KOKH FOX 25 in Oklahoma City, reporting on a renewed interest in homeschooling, 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."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Early ed boosters want to double down on failure

"Charles Murray and other social researchers are verifying what you can see on any shopping trip to Walmart—American culture has been coming apart for five decades now," writes the Indiana Policy Review Foundation.
Public education’s callousness to that fact is inexcusable. It not only failed to bolster the nuclear family but made it seem relative; that is, only one of several arrangements supposedly producing the same happy result. Nor did its managers see need to instill individual responsibility or draw the connection between liberty and economic well-being. The [Indianapolis] Star's answer, though, is we need more of the same, that we should extend the influence of an unrepentant education establishment over our children, and with it a collective-bargaining structure that makes meaningful reform impossible. So how many educrats and public-sector unionists does it take to replace a mother and father overwhelmed by ruinous taxation and destructive social forces? The Star would have us find out.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rabbi touts school choice

"Through vouchers and tax credit scholarships, many parents can now apply a state grant toward the private school of their choice," writes Florida rabbi Mendy Dubrowski. "A marketplace that is open to more parents will help ensure the next generation has every chance to succeed."
Working with a private Jewish day school in Tampa, I have seen the success of the tax credit scholarship program first hand. The family of two students, for example -- an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old -- struggled to support themselves after the father lost his job. The family wanted desperately to give the girls a quality Jewish education, enriching them with their shared heritage and traditions. But even though they visited the school, they had no intention of applying for fear they could never afford the tuition. Thanks to tax credit scholarships, a school representative approached the parents and showed them how their dream of sending their daughters to the school could be a reality.

This isn't a question of whether public or private schools work better. This is a matter of choice. We can no longer afford to trail the world in the education of our youth. We must do everything possible to give them the tools necessary to build a beautifully bright future.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mom sues Tulsa Public Schools over pictures of her daughter

"A mother and her daughter are suing Tulsa Independent School District No. 1, two students and their parents, and Twitter after her peers allegedly tweeted out half-naked pictures of the girl for the world to see," Business Insider reports.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

School-choice mythbusting

Our friends at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation have produced an excellent documentary about parental choice featuring interviews with numerous Oklahomans. OCPA is well represented in the film, with terrific insights from our distinguished fellow Andrew Spiropoulos, trustee Bill Price, and president Michael Carnuccio. Enjoy!