Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Educational choice is a pro-family policy

"At the root of our education debates is a debate about the family," Greg Forster writes in the October issue of Perspective.
The government school monopoly is one of the most important factors undermining the family unit; universal school choice would be a big step toward strengthening it. 
I encourage you to read the entire article here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Norman adds trauma counselors to high school staffs

The Oklahoman has the story.

OKC teacher says she fears for her safety

"A middle school counselor in the Oklahoma City district says she fears for her safety and that of teachers after a student who tried to hit her with a pole was suspended for only two days," Tim Willert reports in The Oklahoman.
Meanwhile, a veteran teacher who recently resigned says student conduct at Upper Greystone Elementary School is "worse than ever" because the district is reluctant to issue suspensions. 
"When students know they can do anything they want and not be suspended they're going to do it," the ex-teacher said. "We can't fault them for that because kids need parameters and guidance and consequences. I think it's very difficult for them to receive that given the current circumstances at Upper Greystone." 
The counselor, Regina Sims, said the incident occurred Wednesday when she was left alone with the boy, who she characterized as violent, in the office of Roosevelt Middle School Principal David Clark. She said Clark had just left to attend to another matter when Sims said the boy swung the metal pole at her. 
"To be honest, I was left in an unsafe situation," she said. "I don't want to go back to Roosevelt because what happened to me is very unsettling." 
In the other case, the former teacher, who requested anonymity because of fear of retribution, said several Upper Greystone teachers have resigned since school started Aug. 3. 
"The class sizes are very large and the behavior is the worst I've ever seen," the ex-teacher said. "There are some people who have worked there a lot longer than (I did) who feel very hopeless and helpless." 
The district said two teachers have resigned from Upper Greystone since the first day of school. The former teacher, who has since changed professions, accused Superintendent Rob Neu of "bullying principals into lowering suspension rates." 
"The kids know there are no ramifications for their behavior," the ex-teacher said. 
Oklahoma City Public Schools spokesman Mark Myers said the allegation made by the ex-teacher "is false."
You can read the entire article here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oklahoma teacher allegedly calls being left-handed 'evil' and 'sinister'

Does this teacher deserve to benefit from an across-the-board pay raise?

Trump: Public school monopoly should 'set off antitrust alarm bells'

Photo credit: Albert H. Teich /

In his book The America We Deserve (Renaissance Books, 2000), Donald Trump made some excellent points about parental choice in education (HT: Shane Vander Hart):
Our public schools have grown up in a competition-free zone, surrounded by a very high union wall. Why aren’t we shocked at the results? After all, teachers’ unions are motivated by the same desires that move the rest of us. With more than 85 percent of their soft-money donations going to Democrats, teachers’ unions know they can count on the politician they back to take a strong stand against school choice. 
Our public schools are capable of providing a more competitive product than they do today. Look at some of the high school tests from earlier in this century and you’ll wonder if they weren’t college-level tests. And we’ve got to bring on the competition—open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children. 
Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition—the American way. ... 
Defenders of the status quo insist that parental choice means the end of public schools. Let’s look at the facts. Right now, nine of 10 children attend public schools. If you look at public education as a business—and with nearly $300 billion spent each year on K-through-12 education, it’s a very big business indeed—it would set off every antitrust alarm bell at the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. When teachers’ unions say even the most minuscule program allowing school choice is a mortal threat, they’re saying: If we aren’t allowed to keep 90 percent of the market, we can’t survive. When Bell Telephone had 90 percent of the market, a federal judge broke it up. 
Who’s better off? The kids who use vouchers to go to the school of their choice, or the ones who choose to stay in public school? All of them. That’s the way it works in a competitive system.

Correcting misinformation on school choice

Martin F. Lueken does some mythbusting.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Republicans embrace parental choice in education

Ronald Reagan supported school choice. So do GOP presidential candidates Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Rick Santorum. 

Other choice supporters include Senator James Lankford, Congressman Steve Russell, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, and more:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Students are the new inmates in the American police state

"In the American police state," attorney John W. Whitehead writes, "you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.)."
Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.” 
From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement. 
If your child is fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the public schools, you should count yourself fortunate.

Employment outcomes for ed-school graduates

The state's largest newspaper today discusses a new report from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education documenting the employment outcomes of Oklahoma college graduates.
After one year, a college graduate with a bachelor's degree in education earned $37,511, on average. That was more than a student with a degree in architecture ($29,798), business management and administrative services ($32,744), communications ($22,430), biological sciences ($17,682), mathematics ($26,565) and psychology ($19,443). 
Overall, the average first-year salary for those with education degrees was greater than the pay received by individuals in all but five of 32 degree fields. The exceptions were computer and information sciences, engineering, engineering technologies, mechanics and repairers, and health professions. 
The regents also found that 95 percent of Oklahoma-resident, education-degree graduates were employed within one year. That was the highest employment rate for all fields reviewed. 
In short, the report found Oklahoma graduates with a bachelor's degree in education were more likely to find employment, and immediately paid more money, than many counterparts. That bucks the stereotype, yet this doesn't mean all is well.
Read the whole thing here.

Young child goes missing from Tulsa school

KRMG has the story.

Republicans ♥ parental choice

The Republican party platforms, both nationally and in Oklahoma, place a strong emphasis on parental rights and educational choice. Here's an excerpt from the 2012 national Republican platform:
Parents are responsible for the education of their children. We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to education and [we] support providing broad education choices to parents and children ...

Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a personal and cultural identity. That is why education choice has expanded so vigorously. It is also why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have not succeeded, but they have done immense damage. …

School choice — whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits — is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools. Getting those youngsters into decent learning environments and helping them to realize their full potential is the greatest civil rights challenge of our time.

A young person’s ability to achieve in school must be based on his or her God-given talent and motivation, not an address, zip code, or economic status.
The Oklahoma Republican Party platform also picks up on this theme of family preeminence:
We believe that the family is the cohesive element that maintains social order and protects individual rights. The duty and privilege of nurturing our young people belongs to parents and the traditional family. We support the sole right and responsibility of parents to rear, educate, discipline, nurture, provide healthcare, and spiritually train their children without government interference.

It is the right and responsibility of parents to direct their children’s upbringing and education — whether public, private, charter, or home school — without interference, regulation, or penalty from the government. … [W]e support the creation of a free-market education system. … We believe all parents should be allowed to use their education tax dollars for the family’s choice of schooling.

Moore students fighting in bathrooms, hallways, classrooms

"An alarming video showing kids fighting inside school has parents concerned," News 9 reports.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

With education spending at all-time high, House Speaker calls out administrative bloat

"Total funding for Oklahoma schools during the 2013-14 academic year reached nearly $5.5 billion, an all-time high," Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman writes today in The Oklahoman.
So why don't Oklahoma's local school districts just pay more? A recent report from the U.S. Department of Education shows it may be because local school boards have committed a growing percentage of their funding to salaries and benefits for administrative and nonteaching staff. 
Between 1992 and 2013, enrollment in Oklahoma schools increased by 14 percent while the number of teachers increased by 11 percent. Administrative and nonteaching staff increased by more than 33 percent. If nonteaching staff had increased at only the same rate as enrollment, Oklahoma schools would have nearly $300 million more available annually to pay teachers higher salaries. ... 
Oklahoma taxpayers are doing their part, providing the resources necessary for a quality education system that can competitively attract great teachers and lessen the impact of the national teacher shortage on our children. It's time for the Legislature to ensure school districts get those hard-earned dollars where they are needed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

TPS decides reality is optional

"During its meeting Monday evening, the [Tulsa] school board added gender expression and gender identity to the list of categories the district does not discriminate against," the News on 6 reports. This calls to mind a passage from Steven F. Hayward in the current issue of Intercollegiate Review:
The single most important overarching political question at the present time is whether we still think there is such a thing as human nature. The core of postmodernism—and many of the campus enthusiasms about how one's gender identity is solely a matter of free choice or will—explicitly denies the idea of human nature, though this often comes disguised in an attack on "objectivity," "social construction" of language and reality, and so forth. The rejection of human nature is catching on slowly in our wider popular culture ...

School choice and school discipline

We should expect the former to improve the latter, John Garen writes in the Journal of School Choice.

Berkeley liberals and the roots of ESAs

Ron Matus has the story.

Monday, September 7, 2015

'Bullying and teen suicide explained: It's public schools'

"The root cause of school bullying and subsequent suicides is the public school system itself," writes Walter Hudson, president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. "We have turned our children over to an institution of collectivism which punishes people for being different. It’s a condition we would never tolerate in any other area of our lives, where we monitor and control our associations in pursuit of our own happiness."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Court should treat religion fairly

No matter the origins of Oklahoma's Blaine Amendment, writes law professor Andrew Spiropoulos, "the court cannot read it out of the constitution."
The problem is that, when read broadly, this language would prevent any use of public property by any religious organization. Scout troops or church groups, for example, couldn’t use public parks. Given the history and pervasive religiosity of our society, this provision cannot reasonably be interpreted to forbid the faithful from benefiting from public facilities or services. 
Our court should read this provision so that, while government cannot favor religion, it may treat religion equally, both compared to different faiths and to the secular. When a recipient of publicly funded services, like health care or education, for example, chooses religious providers over secular agencies, compensating the religious provider for providing the service isn’t supporting or benefiting religion. It’s treating religion fairly.

Guthrie High School staffer arrested, accused of sexual relationship with student has the story.

Thursday, September 3, 2015