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.