Tuesday, September 30, 2014

School board tells homeschool family their curriculum must be 'guided' by Common Core Standards

The Daily Signal has the story.

Langston prof on school choice and accountability

I've previously called attention to some thoughts on school choice from Matthew Lynch, an education professor at Langston University. I now commend to your attention a new piece by Dr. Lynch over at The Huffington Post. He writes:
Giving parents the freedom to choose their child's school is a movement that strives to improve education at ALL schools through the old-fashioned business concept of competition. Public charter and magnet schools are tuition free, just like public schools, but must make some promises in their contracts in order to stay open. If these schools of choice habitually do not reach their goals, they close. Can the same be said of public schools?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Does the Putnam City school district need M-16 assault rifles?

I'm not sure why the government-run schools in Putnam City need M-14 and M-16 assault rifles, though I suppose we should be grateful that no Oklahoma school district has (yet) stocked up on grenade launchers or mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. I guess schools are truly starting to realize that, as education reporter Mike Antonucci quipped, there's a war going on.

'Early childhood education' is not synonymous with 'government early childhood education'

On the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, Pat McGuigan reminds us that parents and private schools can serve as early childhood educators.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Not just a river in Egypt

Oklahoma's latest A-F report cards are out, and many in the public-education community are up in arms. Not about the disappointing results, mind you, but about the report cards themselves. But as The Oklahoman notes in an excellent editorial, at this point denial just looks silly.
Here’s the problem for critics of A-F school grading: Numerous independent measurements also suggest Oklahoma is failing many students.

Just 22 percent of Oklahoma graduating seniors in 2014 demonstrated college and career readiness in all four core subjects on the ACT college entrance exam — English, reading, science and math — according to ACT's 2014 Condition of College and Career Readiness report. And roughly one-fourth of seniors didn’t take the ACT.

A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report gave Oklahoma failing grades for academic achievement, academic achievement by low-income and minority students, and international competitiveness. Oklahoma also got D’s for post-secondary and workforce readiness, parental options and data quality.

The “Quality Counts” report from Education Week found just 13.6 out of every 100 Oklahoma students taking advanced placement tests achieve a high score. That’s about half the national average.

The percentage of Oklahoma students rated “proficient” or better on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests for reading and math in the fourth and eighth grades is below the national average, in some cases substantially lower. Students in neighboring Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri outperform Oklahoma students in NAEP math and reading proficiency. And a much larger share of students in Arkansas and Texas achieved high AP scores.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 39 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates who attend college take at least one remedial course (meaning they have to retake high school classes).

Those wishing to serve in the military must achieve a minimum score on the ASVAB test to enlist. A 2010 Education Trust report, which examined ASVAB results from 2004 to 2009, found that 23.2 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates (including 39.5 percent of black students) failed. 
Other measurements could be cited — when stacked up internationally, for example, Oklahoma's schools are even worse than you think , as Greg Forster points out in Perspective — but the point is made. The monopoly schools have a long way to go. And as The Oklahoman notes, "Denial is a poor battle plan for school improvement."

Bullied 8-year-old leaves Oklahoma City school in middle of day, no one notices

KOCO has the story.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Avoiding government regulation

Parental choice is possible, writes University of Oklahoma graduate Allan E. Parker, Jr., "without destructive government control of private schools."

The continuing growth of charter schools ...

... could greatly diminish private education, Matt Ladner writes.

GOP official says more money won't fix Oklahoma's education problems

Oklahoma national committeeman Steve Fair says money is not the answer.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The future of school choice looks bright

"I still think it’s our battle to lose," Greg Forster writes in Perspective. "Martin Luther King, sitting in that Birmingham jail, didn’t think he was losing. He knew he was winning. Never mind that the segregationists had all the money, all the laws, all the hoses, all the dogs, and all the guns. King had a just cause and an entrepreneurial spirit."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Another year, another wake-up call

In 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a report, “Leaders & Laggards,” which gave Oklahoma’s public school system an “F.” The report said “student performance in Oklahoma is very poor — the state ranks among the lowest in the nation.” This sobering news prompted Oklahoma State University regent Burns Hargis to remark, “If this report is not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.”

Well, the 2014 edition of “Leaders & Laggards” was released last week, and once again Oklahoma earned an “F” for academic achievement. “Student performance in Oklahoma is very weak,” the report says.

“I am unfortunately not surprised by Oklahoma’s poor showing in this study,” said Jennifer Monies, executive director of the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative. “I hope that our failing grade in academic achievement will serve as a wake-up call to all Oklahomans that we must do something now to improve Oklahoma’s educational outcomes.” I agree, though one also has to appreciate state Superintendent Janet Barresi’s observation: “It would be tempting to label this a ‘wake-up call,’ except that alarm bells have been going off for many years.”

For his part, Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, called the results “disappointing,” and renewed the call for more government spending on Oklahoma’s failed monopoly system. (If that surprises you, it shouldn’t.) But increased spending would be an unwise use of scarce resources, given that there is essentially no link between state education spending and student performance:

I have been issuing my own wake-up call for 20 years now, and will take this opportunity to do so again. Policies which give parents more educational options have the added benefit of improving public schools. Dr. Greg Forster reviewed the literature and found that 23 empirical studies “have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools.”

To repeat: school choice improves public schools. Rather than once again hitting the “more government spending” snooze button, policymakers should respond to this latest wake-up call with robust school-choice policies.

[Cross-posted at OCPA]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rural families and school choice

Over at the Friedman Foundation blog, Andy Smarick and Ellie Craig give six reasons rural families should (and can) have school choice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Legal precedent is on the side of Oklahoma's disabled students

Law professor Andrew Spiropoulos discusses the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship litigation here.

New school-emergency tip line in place for Oklahoma

"A new emergency tip line is in place for parents and students in Oklahoma to report suspicious activities or threats to officials," the Associated Press reports.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

'The only people fighting educational choice are the people who have educational choice'

Over the weekend in The Wall Street Journal, Allysia Finley had a great piece ("On the School-Choice Barricades") about former D.C. councilman Kevin Chavous, a founding board member of the nonprofit American Federation for Children (AFC).

Mr. Chavous, who gave an impassioned address to a group of Oklahoma lawmakers on a school-choice fact-finding trip to Arizona last year, is doing battle with teachers unions and fighting for school choice across the country. Finley writes:

"It's like a tale of two Americas on school choice," says Kevin Chavous. There's the status quo that includes the teachers unions and their allies. "And then there's the other America" — those "who have to suffer every day because their kids aren't getting the education they deserve."

By his lights, school choice is a war between the "haves" and "have-nots." "The only people fighting educational choice are the people who have educational choice," notes the former Washington, D.C., councilman. 

AFC is involved in elections across the country, and Finley notes that "all six candidates AFC endorsed in Oklahoma's legislative primaries won."

'Accountability in education should begin with parents'

Great piece here by Brittany Corona on some fortunate parents who are able to control their kids' state education money.

Monday, September 8, 2014

For the children? Or for the grown-ups?

Unfortunately, this is actually a real debate on the left.

School choice saves money

Here is a new report from Ben Clark of the Beacon Center of Tennessee.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

McGuigan discusses special-needs scholarship ruling

On the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, CapitolBeatOK editor Pat McGuigan recounts the shame of Blaine that came sweeping down the plain, but says Oklahoma's special-needs children should not yet give up hope.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Okla. lawmaker says sexual harassment of girls in public schools is widespread

"Based on what I heard from my constituents," writes state Rep. Rebecca Hamilton (D-Oklahoma City), "sexual harassment of girls in our public schools is close to being pro forma. This is actually supported by sex ed classes that push kids toward sexual activity at a too-young age. Your daughter has a much better chance of growing up to be a strong, independent young woman if she can skip this abuse during her formative years."

And that's just the harassment from fellow students. Sadly, kids also have to worry about the grown-ups.

How Education Savings Accounts are empowering families

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

4 in 10 Oklahoma students start college taking remedial classes

"Four out of every 10 college-bound Oklahoma high school graduates are required to take at least one remedial class," The Oklahoman reports.

'Public school groups sue to limit public’s educational options'

Great post by Andrew Coulson over at Education Next.