Wednesday, September 25, 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

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.

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.