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 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.