Thursday, October 10, 2013

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.

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