Friday, May 30, 2014

OU prof: Take responsibility for educating your children

"The way to reclaim America is through patient diligence," University of Oklahoma professor David Deming writes in The Washington Times.
First, have children. Demography is destiny. Second, don’t abandon your children to the public schools. Take the responsibility for educating them. Third, teach children why the United States is both unique and exceptional. With his new series of children’s books, Rush Limbaugh is showing the way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Former Commerce teacher charged with second-degree rape

The Tulsa World has the story.

Separation of school and state!

We need to let educators do their job, Democratic state superintendent candidate Ivan Holmes is on record saying, "and keep government and outside interest groups out of our schools."

Now I had every intention of voting Republican in November, but if this guy really wants to get rid of compulsory attendance laws, slash my income and property taxes, and basically privatize the whole enchilada, I might have to give him a serious look.

School-produced illiteracy still not acceptable

"After voting in 2011 to prevent social promotion of third-grade students who read at only a first-grade level (if that), state lawmakers did a 180 this year and acted to allow functionally illiterate students to advance to fourth grade," The Oklahoman notes today. But even though "the retention mandate is gone, schools still have a mandate to teach all children to read regardless of social or economic status. Policymakers must hold them accountable."

Comparing public schools to private

Patrick J. Wolf says the Lubienskis’ conclusions rely on a flawed research design.

Ed in the sand

A few days ago the superintendent at Tulsa Union took to the pages of the Tulsa World to assure Oklahomans that "our public schools are doing great work," adding with emphasis: "Our education system is not broken!"

Whereupon it struck me that I need to create a new label—let's call it "Ed in the Sand"—and chronicle various statements of this sort when they come along. Here are some others from years past:

"Education hasn't failed, except maybe in a few overcrowded, underfunded urban districts."
Sand Springs superintendent Lloyd Snow

"I feel that our public schools are doing a great job in educating our students."      
Oklahoma state Sen. Richard Lerblance (D-Hartshorne)

"They are using our Governor and Superintendent to carry their water in an attempt to convince parent's [sic] that public schools are bad."                                                                          
Ivan Holmes, Democratic candidate for state superintendent

"It is simply not true."                                                                                                        
Jason James, assistant superintendent in Clinton, on the suggestion that "public schools are failing"

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Student accused of threats at Mustang school

"Authorities say a 15-year-old student at Mustang High School has been arrested for allegedly threatening to harm students at the school," the Associated Press reports.

Police investigate sexual assault claim at Sand Springs school

The Tulsa World has the story.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Four-year-old wanders from OKC school, found in city street

KFOR has the story.

House winks at school-produced illiteracy; Barresi responds

Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi made the following remarks yesterday following House passage of House Bill 2625:
Today’s vote endorses a system of social promotion that has failed to reduce illiteracy and has deprived students from receiving the best education possible. Nothing is more fundamental to learning than the ability to read. The Reading Sufficiency Act can greatly improve literacy in our state, but it cannot work if it is abandoned for social promotion.

Illiteracy in our children must be a call to action. Everything I’ve seen this school year proves that teachers all across our state have heard that call and are doing monumental things. They are persisting with struggling readers and giving children the one skill that will serve as a gateway to other personal achievements in their lives.

The RSA ensures the greatest resources and amount of time available to intensive, customized reading instruction. Only in the most extreme cases when good-cause exemptions don’t apply is retention part of the law. The point of the RSA is to focus education for struggling readers long before they reach third-grade.

Instead of providing an alternative to learning to read, which this pending bill does, we should instead spend our energies helping these students read. Instead of taking the easy way out, we need to make certain every effort is made by parents, teachers and our communities to help these children learn to read.

House Bill 2625 reinforces a status quo that has failed far too many children. It places exorbitant costs and time on school districts by mandating fourth- and fifth-grade reading remediation for students with Unsatisfactory and Limited Knowledge scores. Moreover, it requires districts to hire reading specialists to be on the committees, an expense that smaller districts will be unable to afford. It undermines a law that districts have had three years to comply with and involve parents in its implementation.

Even a well-intentioned bill can have grievous consequences, and I am concerned that is the case with HB 2625.

'Not just the problems of other people's children'

"A new study from researchers Eric Hanushek (Stanford University), Paul E. Peterson (Harvard University), and Ludger Woessmann (University of Munich) finds that U.S. schools do as badly at teaching those from better-educated families as they do at teaching those from less well-educated families," according to Education Next.

Read more, and use the interactive map, here.

On fixed costs, school administrators can't have it both ways

“If you have more students, you need more teachers,” Duncan superintendent Sherry Labyer sensibly told the Duncan Banner in February. If, for example, 250 new students show up to enroll in Duncan’s public schools, then obviously administrators will need to hire more teachers.

Of course, the corollary is obvious. Simply take Mrs. Labyer’s statement and substitute the word “fewer” for the word “more.” If, for example, 250 fewer students show up to enroll in Duncan’s public schools, then administrators would not need to hire as many teachers. In other words, those instructional costs aren’t fixed. They’re variable. Indeed, economist Benjamin Scafidi estimated in 2012 that only one-third of Oklahoma’s education costs are fixed costs, whereas two-thirds are variable costs (costs that change with student enrollment).

In a recent argument against parental-choice legislation, Steven Crawford, executive director of Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, told the Tulsa World that “costs don't go down just because a kid leaves. You don’t get rid of a teacher every time a kid leaves, or you don’t close a building.”

True enough, certain costs are fixed. No reasonable person would claim that a school administrator should “get rid of a teacher every time a kid leaves.” But if 25 kids leave, or 250 kids leave, that’s a different story. Some costs are variable. Unless, of course, Mr. Crawford is prepared to say that he doesn’t want increased funding if 250 new students show up.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kellyville teacher arrested for sex with student has the story.

Anschutz paper: 'Free students from failure with school choice for all'

Common Core combatants likely don't agree on much, the Washington Examiner editorializes, but they agree on this: America's public schools are failing.
This national disgrace cannot continue. Teachers unions are the biggest obstacles to genuine reform. Their monopoly must be broken so great teachers can be rewarded and bad ones fired. That means school choice must become available to all students, not just a lucky few.

The Examiner is a property of Philip Anschutz's Clarity Media Group, which also owns The Oklahoman.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Can you hear me now?

Yes, some of Oklahoma's new "Parents' Bill of Rights" law may be redundant, but it's as if lawmakers are saying to bureaucrats who are even thinking about meddling: "Have we made ourselves perfectly clear now?"

Heck, for good measure, lawmakers even added that "parents have inalienable rights that are more comprehensive than those listed in this section. The Parents' Bill of Rights does not prescribe all rights of parents. Unless otherwise required by law, the rights of parents of minor children shall not be limited or denied."

Education lobby not telling the full story

"Groups lobbying for increased state appropriations for public schools often argue students are being forced to use old textbooks because of underfunding," The Oklahoman notes today.

What those groups don’t mention is that school administrators previously lobbied the Legislature to change the law so they would not have to use textbook money only for textbooks. When the national economic downturn began, schools asked for greater flexibility in the use of those funds, which lawmakers provided. This allowed schools to use textbook money for other classroom expenses like salary support. If the Legislature were to change the law back, and earmark those funds exclusively for textbooks, fewer students would be using old textbooks. But that money would no longer be free for other uses, and it’s likely schools officials would loudly object. The use of old textbooks is not simply a product of state funding, but also of locally controlled decisions.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Yukon settles lawsuit over bullying ... by teachers

"Two women who claim they were bullied by teachers and students at Yukon High School during the 2010-11 school year will be paid $110,000 as part of a settlement reached with the fast-growing school district," The Oklahoman reports.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Self-interest of grown-ups again trumps concern for the children

Teachers unions have succeeded in getting Discovery Communications to cancel a true-crime series about teachers who became sexually involved with their students.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

High-achieving Millennials underwhelmed with American teachers

"If American teachers are anywhere near as unimpressive as ambitious Millennials perceive them to be, then the state of public school education is quite depressing," Rebecca Klein reports over at HuffPo.
A study released Tuesday by the centrist think tank Third Way reveals that high-achieving undergraduate Millennials don’t think much of the teaching profession and would rather choose a different career. According to the study of 400 college students with GPAs of 3.3 or greater, only 35 percent described teachers as "smart," half said the profession had gotten less prestigious over the years, and most described teaching as the top profession for "average" people. ... According to the report, a majority of America’s future teachers now come from the bottom two-thirds of their college classes..."

Klein tells us the Third Way report, co-authored by Lanae Erickson Hatalsky,

called for an expansion of accountability measures that would reward effective teachers through salary increases and career growth opportunities, while working to keep ineffective teachers out of the classroom. "I just don’t think ambitious millennials want to be in that type of system, where the amount of work they put in and results they get have no bearing on the type of career they have going forward," said Hatalsky. "I think that especially for millennials it’s not just about money, its about being able to challenge themselves and take on more responsibility."