Saturday, December 31, 2016

Why schools don't deliver


The post office is a disappointment not because its managers and employees are stupid, but rather because Congress runs it. In the December issue of Perspective, Greg Forster discusses the parallels between mail delivery and education delivery.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Teachers who sexually abuse students still find classroom jobs

"Despite decades of scandals," USA Today reports, "America's schools still hide actions of dangerous educators."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Paternalistic educators think parents are too stupid to come in out of the rain

Condescending educators have been on a roll lately. A teacher union boss in Tennessee tells PBS: "I don’t think they [parents] have the full understanding and exposure of what a proper, adequate education is for their children…I am saying that some parents are not capable of determining venues that will be most advantageous for their children, and that is a fact."

Meanwhile in Tulsa, school bureaucrat Deb Gist fretted to the Tulsa World that "she was the 'point person' for vouchers when she was state superintendent of the Washington D.C. public schools and that experience left her with the lingering concern that 'you had no way of ensuring the (private) school a family was choosing was better than the one they were leaving.'"

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Despite financial 'crisis,' district pays superintendent to go away

"Broken Arrow is doing nothing to boost faith in the system for those who question the financial management of Oklahoma schools," the state's largest newspaper editorializes today.
In May, Broken Arrow school officials cut $7.39 million and eliminated dozens of teaching positions. Just a few weeks ago, Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall declared school finances were in a “real crisis.” Yet now school officials have abruptly announced Mendenhall will vacate his job in the middle of the school year, and the school will pay him nearly $103,100, plus the cost of health insurance, to leave 2 1/2 years early. Supposedly, this was a “mutual” agreement, not a technical firing. Despite evidence to the contrary, Broken Arrow officials insist Mendenhall is in “good standing.” Yet two things are clear: The school's finances are not so dire that officials can't find more than $100,000, and school officials are also willing to pay a high price to show Mendenhall the door.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Test scores aren't everything

Interesting insights from Sand Springs school administrator Rob Miller this week:
How have we been hoodwinked into believing that a child’s performance on a multiple choice test on one day each year could actually serve as an accurate or reliable proxy for later life outcomes we care about—like graduating from high school, going to college, getting a job, earning a good living, being a good community member, raising a family, staying out of jail, etc.? 
Because, you know, they’re not. 
In fact, several research studies have finally pointed out the disconnect between test scores and life success. If you have some time, I encourage you to dive into Jay Greene’s assessment of this mishmash of data at his recent EducationNext article.
Dr. Greene discussed some of these matters in a presentation last year at OCPA ("The Dangers of a High-Regulation Approach to School Choice"). His speech and PowerPoint presentation are available here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rattan teacher quits, under investigation for alleged inappropriate relationship with student

"The Pushmataha County Sheriff's Office is investigating a relationship between a junior high teacher and 17-year-old boy who attends Rattan High School," KXII reports.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

For the establishment, ESAs are a hill to die on

In an article in the current issue of School Reform News, I'm quoted making the point that certain special-interest groups in Oklahoma vigorously oppose ESA legislation.
“The main obstacle, as always, is the education establishment,” Dutcher said. “They have a vested interest in protecting their monopoly position, so for them this is a hill to die on. They have the tax-funded lobbyists, the [public relations] machine, a largely sympathetic press corps, and the infrastructure necessary to make the most noise at the capitol and on social media. Combine that with their willingness to peddle long-discredited myths, and it’s tough to overcome. You can’t overcome it unless you have political leadership willing to say, basically, ‘We’re not going to sacrifice any more kids. We’re not going home until we get this done.’ Unfortunately, we don’t have that right now.”

What choice looks like for families with young children

Joy Pullmann's recent presentation to the Oklahoma School Choice Coalition is here.

Officials investigate Purcell coach allegedly sending inappropriate text message to student

KFOR has the story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tax-credit scholarship program saves Florida millions of dollars each year

There were two excellent letters to the editor in The Oklahoman on Sunday defending Oklahoma's tax-credit scholarship program. One was from Charlie Daniels of Bartlesville, and the other was from Patrick Gibbons of St. Petersburg, Florida. Gibbons, a 2006 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is the public affairs manager of Step Up For Students, a scholarship-granting organization in Florida. He writes:
Regarding “Private school scholarship tax credit gets scrutiny” (News, Dec. 4): Katherine Bishop's criticism that Oklahoma can't afford the $2.5 million Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship doesn't square with findings from the nation's largest scholarship program. Florida offers a more generous scholarship with a 100 percent tax credit for donors and a scholarship worth up to $5,886. Step Up For Students (my employer) raised more than $550 million this year alone to fund nearly 96,000 scholarships for low-income students. Even with the higher scholarships and tax credit percentage, eight reports in the past 15 years (including reports from the state legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability and Florida's Revenue Estimating Conference) have all concluded that Florida's program saves the state millions of dollars each year. The reason is simple: The revenue lost through tax credits is made up by eliminating the expenditure to fund the student's (now empty) seat at a more expensive public school. 
If Florida's experience is any indication, Oklahoma could actually afford an expanded program with larger scholarships and more generous tax credits for donors. Public schools and taxpayers would benefit from the savings, while low-income parents throughout the state would benefit from more educational opportunities for their children.

Girl charged after allegedly making threats toward Oklahoma high school students

"Agents in Tonkawa are investigating a plan to possibly attack a local high school," KFOR reports.
On Dec. 11, officials with the Tonkawa Police Department received a tip about a possible mass shooting plot at Tonkawa High School. During the investigation, authorities learned that a 13-year-old girl had made threats toward the school and specific students.

The same day, investigators served a search warrant at the girl’s home and reportedly discovered weapons and ammunition. They also collected personal writings and other personal items as evidence.

Investigators say that they believe the girl was the only possible suspect in the attack and that all of the alleged targets of the attack have been notified.

The girl was charged with threats to perform acts of violence.

GO for Catholic Schools is helping kids

Monday, December 12, 2016

DeVos will help the most vulnerable

Yesterday in the Tulsa World, OCPA president Jonathan Small made a case for Betsy DeVos.

Vouchers would 'restore the choice' of Oklahomans who have voted with their feet to the suburbs

Great letter to the editor today in The Oklahoman from Susan Cohlmia of Oklahoma City.

Norman Public Schools expands programs for student victims of crimes

"Two years ago, Norman Public Schools was in the national spotlight because of sexual violence in high schools," the Norman Transcript reports. "Now, NPS is making strides to address sexual violence, safe relationships, and bullying on its campuses with first-of-their-kind programs."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Former Bristow teacher arrested for allegedly having sex with student

NewsOK.com has the story.

No merit to criticism of Oklahoma scholarship tax credit

"While the OEA and similar groups may not like it, support for school choice is growing," The Oklahoman editorializes today. Dubious fiscal claims won't change that fact."

Putnam City school employee accused of sending lewd message to students

"To be honest, I really wasn't that surprised," one former student told KFOR, "because it just seems like that happens a lot now."

Law professor raps Oklahoma's 'ruthless and self-serving education establishment'


"The best reason to conduct an inquiry into Hofmeister’s conduct is to expose the most damaging corruption exemplified by her campaign—the destructive power wielded by the state’s ruthless and self-serving education establishment," Andrew Spiropoulos writes today in The Journal Record ("House should consider impeaching superintendent").
The evidentiary affidavit submitted in support of the criminal charges describes a conspiracy to commit a political crime far worse than violations of the campaign finance laws. It appears that the principal organizations leading the fight to undermine genuine reform of our failing system, including the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and the Oklahoma Education Association (the state teachers union), conspired to use any means necessary to elect a Republican superintendent who would do the bidding of these organizations and their allies. All Hofmeister had to do is pose as a conservative reformer—which the establishment, the evidence shows, knew she was not—while the teacher unions, school superintendents, and the useful idiots in the Republican ranks raised the money to fund both Hofmeister’s disingenuous campaign and the not-so-independent negative campaign designed to destroy her Republican opponent. 
Any competent and thorough impeachment inquiry will lay bare how those who cling to the unacceptable status quo maintain their power at the expense of those who hope that our dysfunctional system might someday be reformed. The Legislature, for example, can ask questions prosecutors could not thoroughly explore, including whether and how deeply other establishment organizations, such as the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, were aware of or involved in the conspiracy.
I encourage you to read the entire column here

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

'Sober high school' in OKC is rescuing young people

Coweta student considered suicide, says she's been bullied for months

"A Coweta Junior High student says she's been bullied for months. Her parents are taking action after they say the school district hasn't," KJRH reports.
One week ago, 13-year-old Chynna Holland says a fellow Coweta Junior High School classmate threatened to kill her, three times in two days.  
"I would rather be homeschooled than go to school right now," she said. "It's getting so bad." ... 
Holland says she's been bullied since August, when she says a girl in her class beat her up. Her mother Julie, filed a police report. Now, there's a protective order against the student she says left knots on her head. 
"I'm constantly watching my phone to see if she's texting me, telling me she needs me," Chynna's mother Julie Holland said. "Every minute I'm wondering if I am going to get a call where she needs me again."  
The Hollands say their daughter has shut down. "You can just see it on her face and her actions," Chynna's father David Holland said. "It's like she's going to her execution, she does not want to go to that school." 
It's hard for this couple to say what happened next. They say their precious daughter wanted it all to end. 
"We had an incident here the other day at home," Holland said. "Julie went to put some clothes up, pulled her drawer open to her nightstand and there are prescription medications that had been prescribed to my wife that our daughter was planning to take to end her life." 
"When I asked her about it she said, "My plan was to go to sleep and just not wake up," the seventh grader's mother said. ... 
Both parents say their daughter has told school officials of more than 50 instances where she was bullied. But Chynna's father, David, says it took him going to police for the case to be investigated.

Beaver High School teacher charged with rape

"A teacher in the Beaver Public School system has been arrested and charged with first-degree rape," the Woodward News reports.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

'Oklahoma school voucher advocates see a political opening'

Informative front-page story today by Ben Felder in The Oklahoman. But it's worth pointing out again, as Jason L. Riley did in The Wall Street Journal, that federal vouchers are problematic.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ed choice and urban revitalization

"It's often noted that school choice policies offer great benefit to families, particularly the low-income," The Oklahoman notes today in an excellent editorial. "But an often overlooked benefit of school choice policies is that they can also revitalize communities."

'The evidence arrayed against Hofmeister is remarkably damning'


"The interesting question is why we haven’t heard a word from Gov. Mary Fallin or the incoming Republican legislative leaders about Hofmeister’s future," Andrew Spiropoulos writes today in The Journal Record. "One can’t help but believe that if Hofmeister were a Democrat, they would demand that she immediately resign."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Federal vouchers present hazards

"Mr. Trump has proposed a $20 billion federal voucher program that students could use to attend public or private schools," Jason L. Riley writes today in The Wall Street Journal ("Why Trump’s Education Pick Scares Unions").
But this idea presents similar hazards. Federal dollars will bring federal regulations, and reform-minded individuals like Betsy DeVos won’t forever be in charge of implementing them. Better to let the states lead on school choice. Now that Republicans control 33 governorships and both legislative chambers in 32 states, what’s stopping them?

Federal-voucher opponents are right (for the wrong reasons)

"A federal voucher program poses a danger to school choice efforts nationwide," Jason Bedrick writes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Glad we got that cleared up

Calling a little girl a boy, pushing transgender propaganda at 10-year-olds, and flying the rainbow flag outside the school district headquarters. Those things are perfectly fine.

But exposing students to "1950’s-era gender expectations"? That is forbidden and requires an apology.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Classical conflict

"Will classical public charter schools lure Christian parents away from schools that acknowledge Christ as the center of all things?" Leigh Jones tackles that question in an excellent article in WORLD magazine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Preschool may not just be a waste of money

It might also do harm, Jason Richwine writes.

Oklahoma districts report success with four-day school weeks

"I met with my staff last week and they said they're further along in their curriculum than they've ever been," News9 quotes one principal as saying. "They're seeing students with better morale. They're excited to be there. Our attendance is up."

And in The Ada News, a Vanoss principal also says the four-day school week is a multi-faceted success.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Educator-lawmakers already common in Oklahoma

"Those who insist education is being neglected by the Legislature are implicitly suggesting longtime school officials are directly responsible," The Oklahoman points out in an excellent editorial.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tax-credit scholarships save money

A new study is here, and a terrific Wall Street Journal editorial is here.

Key observation from the study: "School choice critics often argue that school choice siphons resources from public schools. But their logic paints school funding as a ratcheting wrench that works only one way ..."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Defeating 'status-quo defenders'

Indiana businessman Fred Klipsch "worked with many of his peers to drive policy development and political action to defeat status-quo defenders," Fred Morgan, president and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, reminds us in a recent column. It's time for some Oklahoma business leaders to do likewise.

Princeton professor understood that public schools would be the engine of atheism

Insightful post from Zachary Garris here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Child allegedly choked and left unconscious at Holdenville middle school

"A child was allegedly choked and left unconscious at school, and parents say they want the bullying to stop," KFOR reports.

How to run the government-school monopoly better

Oklahoma policymakers should take a hard look at school board elections, building-level autonomy, principal training, transparency measures, and other public-school governance reforms, Greg Forster writes in Perspective.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Teacher pay, yes, but 'the public wants real reform as well'

"As we've noted before, education is an issue that clearly deserves lawmakers' attention," The Oklahoman editorialized today.
Teacher pay is part of that conversation, but only one part. The public wants real reform as well. It's time to reduce administrative bloat. It's time to direct more money to the classroom. It's time to hold local districts responsible for mismanagement, such as over-testing that is almost entirely a product of local administrators and school boards, not state mandates. It's time to increase school choice and give parents more options, understanding that the closest school isn't automatically the best fit for every single child.

Pugh, Newberry question across-the-board pay raises

State Senator-elect Adam Pugh (R-Edmond) was recently quoted in the Edmond Sun as saying: "If you have got a teacher who has been teaching 20 years and they have a Ph.D. and a teacher who has been teaching two years—why should they get the same pay raise? ... Maybe the 20-year veteran deserves a $10,000 pay raise and the two-year teacher should get $2,000."

In the Sand Springs Leader, state Sen. Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa) also questioned the wisdom of giving the same pay raise to low-performing teachers as to high-performing teachers. "That might not be the best way to ensure dollars to the teachers. They should be rewarded based on ability," he said.

UPDATE:  "[W]hen the Legislature convenes in February, it must find a way to invest more money in our teachers," Andrew Spiropoulos writes in The Journal Record. "But only lazy opportunists will settle for a plan that consists only of an across-the-board salary increase designed to look good in a press release." Spiropoulos has some specific pay-raise ideas here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vindictive-resentment watch

"The most vindictive resentment," Isabel Paterson understood more than 70 years ago, "may be expected from the pedagogic profession for any suggestion that they should be dislodged from their dictatorial position."

Vouchers shift the balance of power to
consumers—who can vote with their feet.
That resentment was on full display this week. FOX 23 reported on an Owasso High School teacher who was disgusted with Tuesday's election results, especially with the fact that Oklahomans elected people to office who favor school vouchers. This teacher told his students that Oklahomans have elected “uninformed, ignorant, racist pieces of [bleep].”

It's not the only time we've seen some rather startling language from Oklahoma educators who either weren't coping well with the election results or who resent educational reform.

English teacher Jennifer Williams, who is tired of "f*ing platitudes," says "people are generally such selfish assholes that they rarely surprise me." And after the election of Mr. Trump, she is especially critical of white people: "White people are the deliberately blind, ignorant, deaf, tunnel-visioned voters. ... Actually, it's been awhile since I was offended by anyone other than white people. ... I'm so incensed by white women I could actually do harm. ... Jesus, White women. If you're really wanting equality, it ain't comin' from your White men. Why do we need to completely sh*t on women of other races? Do you realize how stupid you are? ... [W]e are such competitive and power-grubbing bitches ... Why can't White men release their death grip on their power and the government and the nation? ... Whites are sucking the life from America, denying our country any possible chance at greatness. No one and nothing can ever be great if you've stolen, murdered, pillaged, and raped to achieve power."

For his part, Tulsa Union teacher Dallas Koehn hasn't been bashful about using words like "sh*tting on people," "a**hole," a "clusterf*ck," "shut the $%#& up," and "kiss my big fat angry blogging a**, you sick twisted lying $#%&ers."

Music teacher (and minister's wife) Mindy Dennison has instructed certain school-choice proponents to kiss her a**.

Tulsa teacher Cory Williams has no patience for state lawmakers who "can't seem to find their ass with both hands without taking money from education and giving it to oil companies." 

Mid-Del superintendent Rick Cobb, no fan of the state's A-F grading system, says "A-F that is right!"

Sand Springs administrator Rob Miller says "when I stumble upon a big steaming pile of festering crap I tend to say, 'Hey look, there’s a pile of sh*t.'"

Retired teacher Claudia Swisher, apparently believing hostility to be the best fundraising posture, instructs policymakers: "Fund us. Support us. Or STF (flip) U."

As we approach 2017, the taxpaying parents of 100,000 Oklahoma students, despite being compelled to pay for public education, have in effect said to public school officials: "Your product is sufficiently unattractive to us that you can't even give it away." Moreover, Oklahoma has enacted a private-school voucher program and a tax-credit scholarship program. And as we move ever closer to Rod Paige's vision of universal school choice—by expanding our current programs, enacting ESAs, providing for individual tax credits, and more—I suspect the vindictive resentment will grow.

What's especially disappointing is the hostility from some Oklahoma educators toward parents who want a faith-based education for their children. Rob Miller, for example, says: "If you are a parent who wants to use the Bible as your child’s Biology text, ESAs are for you." The online Oklahoma Education Journal posted a video with a similarly uninformed and uncharitable portrayal of Christ-centered education. The viewer will notice the unflattering setting and the mockery of "God’s Li’l Voucher School, Inc." which delivers "cutting-edge religious creation-science."

Happily, the vast majority of Oklahoma educators would never resort to vapid caricatures of private schools. (Indeed, 4 in 10 Oklahoma teachers would choose private or home education for their own children.) The vast majority of Oklahoma teachers would never refer to elected officials as "racist pieces of [bleep]." And that's good. Because parents want exemplary role models for their children, understanding full well that "a student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher."

[This post has been updated to include colorful new quotes from Oklahoma educators.]

Friday, November 11, 2016

Teacher caucus shortage

Researchers say there is no teacher shortage in Oklahoma. But the same cannot be said regarding the much-ballyhooed teacher caucus.

Sand Springs administrator Rob Miller, shocked and disappointed at Tuesday's election results, says "there is very little positive spin anyone can offer about the outcome of many House and Senate races, not to mention the demoralizing defeat of State Question 779 ..." Purcell superintendent Jason Midkiff was similarly disappointed by "the small group of Education Candidates to win." Retired teacher Claudia Swisher said they were "much smaller numbers than we’d hoped." Tulsa Union teacher Dallas Koehn was pleased by "the handful of winning edu-slators" on Tuesday. "But dozens of others went down in flames," he says. "Not even close in most cases."

There's trouble bruin on campus


"A disturbing social media video of several fights involving current and former Bartlesville High School and Bruin Academy students surfaced Tuesday night, causing concern among parents, students, and school administrators," the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Profane Owasso teacher doesn't like vouchers


FOX 23 reports on an Owasso High School teacher who was disgusted with Tuesday's election results, especially with the fact that Oklahomans would elect people to office who favor school vouchers. "Ridiculous," he said.

The teacher was unhappy that Oklahomans would "elect uninformed, ignorant, racist pieces of [bleep]."

Educator blissfully untroubled by mass educational failure

After SQ 779 went down in flames Tuesday night, a teacher at Ada High School tweeted the following:



Well, yes. However, an obvious question presents itself:



I'm not sure what sort of reply I was then expecting from this teacher. Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect something along the lines of: "Good point. We have spent untold millions of dollars yet too often have failed at our most basic task—teaching a child to read. We have damaged countless lives, many of them unalterably. I hope parents and taxpayers can forgive us and give us another chance."

Alas, that's not what he said. Incredibly, this was his reply:


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

More momentum for Oklahoma ed choice

Three developments in the last week will add to the momentum for educational choice in Oklahoma.

First, additional choice supporters were elected to the state legislature last night. Read about each of them here. Of special note is the re-election of Dan Newberry, the Senate author of the state's most expansive private-school choice program. Newberry dispatched the retired education bureaucrat (and vocal ed-choice foe) Lloyd Snow.

In this year's legislative races, the Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund spent more than $210,000. This is sometimes referred to as "dark money," a scary-sounding phrase used (usually by people who disagree with the donors' electoral preferences) to describe healthy and important First Amendment activities. The phrase "dark money" is especially beloved of liberal journalists and members of Oklahoma's public education community, though I suspect enthusiasm for its usage has dampened of late. Which brings us to the second key development: Ed-choice foes Joy Hofmeister, Fount Holland, and a pair of former CCOSA and OEA officials were charged last week with felony counts. The indispensable Michael Bates has a summary here

If you ever needed confirmation of Preston Doerflinger's observation that Hofmeister is a Democrat in Republican clothing (something I have long pointed out—here and here, for example), look no further than this affidavit. And don't miss this gem from GOP campaign consultant (and ed-choice foe) Fount Holland: "A little savvy would make OEA unstoppable. The question is are they for us, and can they be quiet and stomach our right wing rhetoric long enough to get what they really want; a pro education environment for our state." That quote perfectly encapsulates why Oklahoma's GOP supermajorities (75 to 26 in the House; 42 to 6 in the Senate) are not unalloyed good news.

Third, ed-choice supporters Donald Trump and Mike Pence were victorious last night. You may recall that Mr. Trump, noting that the existence of a public school monopoly should "set off antitrust alarm bells," is on record saying parents deserve more choices. "Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships," he said. "I call it competition—the American way."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (center) is pictured in his office on November 16, 2015,
with several Oklahomans who were on a school-reform fact-finding trip to Indiana.  

Vice President-elect Pence also supports school choice, including vouchers and tax credits. "Let’s open more doors of opportunity to more Hoosier families by lifting the cap on the dollar amount that choice schools receive for students and raise the cap on the choice scholarship tax credit program," the Indiana governor said in last year's State of the State address. In a meeting in his office on November 16, 2015, Gov. Pence discussed education reform with several Oklahomans who were on a fact-finding trip to Indianapolis sponsored by the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Gov. Pence spoke openly about school choice, including education savings accounts. (Contrary to the claims of ed-choice foe Jadine Nollan, a state representative who says Gov. Pence advised Oklahoma lawmakers not to enact ESAs in a difficult budget year, what he actually said—as I and several others who were in the meeting can attest—is simply that it's more difficult to do it in a down budget year.)

In any case, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the education establishment's rearguard action to protect its monopoly cannot hold year after year. Oklahoma's political leaders, rather than continuing to penalize parents financially for raising their children in accordance with their consciences, will eventually enact and expand policies—vouchers, tax credits, ESAs, and more—which secure parental rights. As Oklahoma's GOP-controlled government considers education funding and teacher pay raises in 2017, let's hope they insist that the price for more funding is increased parental choice.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Private sector must help drive ed reform in Oklahoma

In a series of recent meetings in Oklahoma, Indiana business titan Fred Klipsch made it clear that business leaders must get involved.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Oklahomans’ support for school choice is becoming difficult to deny



For those of you keeping score at home, here is the recent survey research that has shown strong support for various forms of private-school choice among Oklahomans:
  • Braun Research survey (registered Oklahoma voters), January 2014
  • Tarrance Group survey (registered Oklahoma GOP primary voters), July 2014
  • SoonerPoll survey (likely Oklahoma voters), January 2015
  • Tarrance Group survey (registered Oklahoma voters), January 2015
  • Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates survey (registered Oklahoma voters), December 2015
  • SoonerPoll survey (likely Oklahoma voters), January 2016 
  • SoonerPoll survey (likely Oklahoma voters), July 2016

And here is the survey research showing that Oklahomans oppose school vouchers (the survey didn't ask about tax-credit scholarships or ESAs):
  • Public Opinion Strategies survey (likely Oklahoma voters), March 2015 

In other words, the Public Opinion Strategies poll—conducted by the pollster for Fount Holland and CCOSA and heavily publicized by Oklahoma's education establishment—is very much an outlier. Anyone refusing to acknowledge that fact is simply not being intellectually honest. Moreover, as the state's largest newspaper editorialized, "there's good reason to question the validity of the Public Opinion Strategies poll. As Bill Shapard, founder of SoonerPoll has noted, to believe the POS poll one must also believe Oklahomans are more liberal than residents of heavily Democratic states. That's because polling has found nearly seven out of 10 voters in New Jersey and two out of three voters in New York support school vouchers. In neighboring Arkansas, six out of 10 voters support school vouchers, while in Kansas 57 percent of voters support the proposal and in Texas 66 percent support creating an ESA-style program. Shapard wrote that it is 'a very hard sell to say that Oklahomans, in such a red state that's demographically similar to the surrounding states of Texas, Kansas, or Arkansas, would be so contrary to all of these polls.'"

Like the film critic Pauline Kael, who couldn't understand how Nixon beat McGovern (given that everyone she knew had voted for McGovern), many in the public education community’s epistemic bubble simply cannot come to terms with the reality that most Oklahomans favor educational choice. It must be nothing short of bewildering for them that popular elected officials such as James Lankford, Mary Fallin, Todd Lamb, Scott Pruitt, and others—principled leaders, to be sure, but leaders who aren’t in the habit of being unaware or defiant of public opinion—are such strong proponents of school choice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

School districts accused of squandering millions on bond fees

Midwest City-Del City Public Schools, Norman Public Schools, and other school districts are squandering Oklahoma taxpayers' hard-earned dollars every year by paying exorbitant fees for financial advisers, bond counsel, and underwriters, The Oklahoman reports.

Education choice will help revitalize OKC


Excellent op-ed today by real-estate professor Bart Danielsen and former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Nontraditional Oklahoma teachers no cause for concern

Excellent editorial from the state's largest newspaper today.

Does Oklahoma have a teacher shortage ---- or a surplus?


"Overall, there is no teacher shortage," researchers at the 1889 Institute conclude in a new report. "In fact, there may be a surplus."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

An expedition into life’s virtues, values

"On the fourth floor of the Downtown Oklahoma City Library lies Odyssey Leadership Academy which is home to 48 students from all over the metro area who have various educational backgrounds," the Edmond Sun reports.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Millennial ignorance disturbing


"A study has found that quite a few young Americans are open to Communism," Gene Veith writes. 
And one out of three believe that George W. Bush killed more people that Josef Stalin. ... Not to defend this monumental ignorance, but we need to realize that very few high schools are teaching history any more. Instead, they teach 'social studies.'"
Read the whole thing here.

School choice improves public schools

"School choice is the best-researched education issue, possibly the best-researched policy issue of any kind," Greg Forster writes for OCPA. "And guess what? Choice is actually the best-proven method—by far—of improving public schools. If you’re serious about helping public schools, you should be serious about school choice."

Oklahoma education spending continues to rise

Oklahoma education spending has gone nowhere but up, writes OCPA distinguished fellow Andrew Spiropoulos, despite the shameless lies and rhetorical flimflam one hears from education bureaucrats and left-wing activists.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Liberal think-tank report ‘stretches the truth beyond the breaking point’


"One problem in the Oklahoma school funding debate is that many 'facts' touted by activists are not exactly as advertised," The Oklahoman notes today in a takedown of the annual CBPP report. Accountant Steve Anderson has explained why the CBPP report is extremely flawed. Indeed, the report "stretches the truth beyond the breaking point," as Oklahoma's Senate leader memorably put it.

UPDATE: The state's largest newspaper has more to say about "critics' claims that Oklahoma has cut school spending more than any other state based on a report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yet when that report examined total state funding for schools between 2008 and 2014, the center found that Oklahoma didn't land in the top 10 states ranked by percentage cuts. And the center used a methodology in which even increased funding could still be declared a 'cut' at times."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The shame of Blaine comes sweeping down the plain

A "yes" vote on SQ 790 will get rid of it.

Mother sues Tulsa Public Schools after school reportedly failed to protect daughter after assault

FOX 23 has the story.

Means-testing new ed choice programs is bad politics, bad policy

Jay Greene speaks in Oklahoma City on December 3, 2015.
One excellent idea being proposed in Oklahoma is for policymakers to do what eight other states have done: enact an individual tax credit or deduction for approved educational expenses (including private school tuition and homeschooling). Policymakers should embrace this idea.

But whichever new ed-choice program Oklahoma policymakers decide to enact next—whether it's an individual tax credit, or a scholarship for foster kids, or an education savings account, or whatever it may be—policymakers should resist the temptation to means-test the program. Means-testing would be bad politics and bad policy.

In 2014 and again in 2015, pollsters asked registered Oklahoma voters whether educational choice should be available to all families or should be means-tested. A Braun Research survey, for example, asked if ESAs should be available only to those in financial need; Oklahomans rejected that idea by a margin of 53 percent to 37 percent. But when asked if ESAs should be available to all families, Oklahomans overwhelmingly (58 percent to 32 percent) said yes.

A Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates survey asked Oklahomans if ESAs should be available only to low-income students. By a margin of 65 percent to 27 percent, the answer was no. [The results were similar among Republicans (67 percent to 24 percent) and Democrats (63 percent to 29 percent).]

In a recent article at Education Next (“Political Science for Ed Reform Dummies”), University of Arkansas professor Jay P. Greene reminds us that “a basic lesson about political reality is that more advantaged people tend to have more political power.”
Rather than lament this fact, reformers should try to use it to advance their goals. The old political adage that programs for the poor tend to be poor programs is all too true. Reformers have made horrible political mistakes in concentrating programs in disadvantaged areas, means-testing participants, and focusing on options that are mostly of interest to lower-income families. Not only do these program tend to be less-well funded, overly regulated, and generally of lower quality, but they are always highly vulnerable to being weakened further or eliminated. 
To increase the odds of having better quality programs that are more generously funded and more reasonably regulated, reformers should be sure to include higher-income families as potential beneficiaries. And those wealthier families are more likely to be mobilized politically to protect and expand programs. If reformers should seek to organize concentrated interests of beneficiaries, it would really help if they did not exclude higher-income families that tend to have better resources, networks, and experience to participate more effectively in politics [emphasis added].
Professor Greene reiterated the point yesterday, explaining why charter-school expansion is likely to lose at the ballot box in Massachusetts on November 8.

Education researcher Matt Ladner also has some helpful insights. For example, he reminds us that public school eligibility is universal.
Imagine a district school official telling a student “Sorry Johnny, we would let you participate in our dual enrollment program, but your parents pay too many taxes so it disqualifies you.” How about, “We regret to inform you, Susanne, that your parents’ income has been too high to allow you to attend the University of Arkansas—which is reserved for low- and middle-income taxpayers.” How about, “economic diversity will not be tolerated in charter schools. We have learned about your father’s high income and you are hereby expelled!”
So, for example, if an Oklahoma billionaire could send his kids to get a $10,000-per-year education at a suburban public school, what’s so awful about a $1,000 tax credit if that parent decided to homeschool or choose a private school instead? What's so awful about a $5,000 voucher or ESA?

Why should a homeschooling Edmond heart surgeon be excluded from receiving a tax credit?

Why should a Tulsa oil-and-gas entrepreneur who sends his kids to Victory Christian School be excluded from getting a voucher or an ESA?

After all, as Dr. Ladner reminds us, they pay more taxes than most other people, both directly and indirectly by creating jobs and creating companies that also pay taxes. Since when do GOP politicians want to make enemies out of a key portion of their base?

If states like Indiana, Iowa, and Louisiana can enact tax credits with universal eligibility, there’s no reason Oklahoma cannot do the same. Heck, even purple Wisconsin and deep-blue Illinois have tax credits with universal eligibility.

The education establishment is going to fight this idea no matter what. They’re going to demagogue it as “school choice for the rich” no matter what. So there's no reason not to aim for the ideal policy. If it turns out that the sausage-making process demands compromise, a better route for the individual tax credit would be to keep the eligibility universal but use a graduated scale that gives a larger tax credit for lower-income kids. A better route for the ESA would be to limit it geographically rather than by income.

As Dr. Ladner puts it, “I think we have our hands full fighting the union bosses, superintendents, etc. without going out of our way to make enemies out of high-income people in a way no other education option would even seriously entertain.”

UPDATES: 

  • If the Massachusetts charter school ballot question fails (which it did), Robert Pondiscio writes, "don't point angry fingers at selfish Massachusetts voters: Blame falls equally upon a movement that has long been a bit too enamored of its own civil-rights-movement-of-our-time rhetoric to worry much about building a constituency among the middle class."
  • AEI scholar Katharine Stevens has an interesting observation about why the folks promoting early-childhood development (prenatal through age 3) for disadvantaged people hitched their wagon to the universal pre-K star. "I think there may be a political calculation," she says. "If you’re promoting something universal, you will stand a much better chance of getting public support. ... Disadvantaged mothers and infants do not have huge interest groups or lobbying organizations."

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nearly 4 in 10 Oklahoma teachers would choose private or home education for their own children


When asked what’s the best educational choice for their own children, one might expect near unanimity from teachers that a traditional public school is best. Not only for reasons of loyalty to one’s employer (Thunder employees don’t cheer for the Warriors), but because teachers are in the schools every day and have firsthand knowledge of school quality and safety. So it’s surprising—and perhaps somewhat telling—that nearly 4 in 10 teachers would choose a private school or homeschooling for their own children, according to a new SoonerPoll survey.

Oklahoma lawmakers should do what eight other states have done: enact an individual tax credit or deduction for approved educational expenses (including private school tuition and homeschooling). This would empower teachers—and indeed all Oklahoma parents—to make the best educational choice for their own children.

Friday, October 21, 2016

For pre-K choices

When it comes to early childhood education, OCPA president Jonathan Small writes today in The Journal Record, policymakers shouldn’t put their finger on the scale by favoring government options over nongovernment options.

No more stereotypes about schools

After spending time at private schools in Oklahoma which cater to homeless children and special-needs children, OCPA’s Trent England says it’s time to dispense with the stereotypes about private schools.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Classroom predator suspended with pay

"A taxpayer-funded school district in Oklahoma is still generously paying a salary to a high school cheerleading coach who was arrested for allegedly engaging in a festival of touching with a 14-year-old male teen," The Daily Caller reports.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Keeping Oklahoma children safe

Commenting on a recent interim study by state Sen. Kyle Loveless, the state's largest newspaper says Oklahoma needs to strengthen its reporting requirements about predators in the classroom. Meanwhile, Trent England wonders why some superintendents aren't getting fired and possibly even facing legal liability.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oklahomans want educational choices

Survey data show that Oklahomans favor educational choice, I write today in the Enid News & Eagle.
Today, one in seven students in Oklahoma’s public school system is eligible for a private-school voucher. Four out of five Oklahoma families with children are eligible for a tax-credit scholarship, according to the organization EdChoice. And I expect school choice to continue to advance. 
One reason is the Sexual Revolution’s continued assault on Oklahoma values. “The Obama administration is bullying the nation’s public schools into allowing students who claim they are transgender to use the bathroom and locker room facilities of the opposite sex,” Greg Forster recently pointed out in an article (“Commode Core Shows Why We Need School Choice”) in Perspective, a magazine I edit. 
And it’s not just the bogeyman feds. As my colleague Trent England has been discussing on The Trent England Show, the Oklahoma Library Association is pushing transgender propaganda at 10-year-old students in schools all across Oklahoma. 
Tulsa Public Schools is so keen on the idea of calling a little boy a girl that teachers are being trained on “gender nonconformity” issues, including which bathrooms transgender children are allowed to use. No real surprise there; in June district officials in Tulsa flew a “Gay Pride” flag outside the TPS headquarters. 
For its part, the Oklahoma PTA announced in July that the national PTA and its constituent associations will now be advocating for legislation creating a new protected class for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning” persons. 
Parents, not government officials, have the moral right and the responsibility to determine a child’s path. The government—especially a government hostile to their values—should not penalize parents financially for raising their children in accordance with their consciences.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Predators in the classroom

We still aren't doing enough to combat the problem, Michael Tortorello writes this weekend in The Wall Street Journal.

You may recall that earlier this year USA Today gave Oklahoma an "F" for its teacher background check system.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Challenging the conventional wisdom on teacher certification

Teacher certification isn't all it's cracked up to be, economist Byron Schlomach writes in a new report ("The Need to Review and Reform Occupational Licensing in Oklahoma"). 

"Many studies of teacher certification/licensing have been done that show little to no support for the notion that teacher certification/ licensing regimes improve student outcomes over having teachers that are simply well-acquainted with the subject matter that they teach," he writes.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Helping families with private scholarship funds

Terrific letter to the editor today in The Oklahoman from Charlie Daniels, my fellow board member at the Opportunity Scholarship Fund:
We're constantly assailed by bad news in Oklahoma. How about some good news for a change? The liberty-loving Cato Institute measures freedom in all 50 states, and it rates Oklahoma second best in the nation! What got us this high rank? A lot of reforms, including education reforms such as the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarships for disabled kids and a “tax benefit for contributions to private scholarship funds.”
Those “private scholarship funds” are called “Scholarship Granting Organizations” here. They help level the playing field for lower income parents who want to be able to choose a private school for their children. There are two main SGOs in Oklahoma City: the Catholic Schools Opportunity Fund, providing scholarships to Catholic schools, and the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, for most non-Catholic private schools. Both SGOs are already helping a number of local families.
Not only do low-income parents benefit from the SGOs, so do donors. Most donors get 50 percent credits against state income tax. A promise to make the same contribution for two years ups that credit even more. The benefits are eye-popping. A $1,000 donation made directly to a school costs the average taxpayer about $700, net of taxes. If that same $1,000 contribution goes to an SGO, the net cost shrinks to about $200.
Parents or donors wanting more information can contact their local Catholic school or non-Catholic private school. These SGOs are part of the reason Cato ranks Oklahoma high on freedom, and they deserve our warm support.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fed Ed failure

Federal involvement in education has been a multi-faceted failure. It’s time to devolve power to state and local governments and, better still, to take “local control” all the way to the kitchen table by giving more choices to parents. Dr. Vicki Alger, author of the new book Failure: The Federal Miseducation of America's Children, discussed the matter this morning on The Trent England Show.

Mother of autistic boy grateful for school choice

You can hear the emotion in this mama grizzly’s voice as she talks about doing whatever it takes to ensure her autistic son could attend Trinity School in Oklahoma City. Thanks to Oklahoma’s voucher program and tax-credit scholarship program, he can.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

School district runs school choice program mostly for district employees

Over at the Education Intelligence Agency, Mike Antonucci is amused that one school district, "which has a residency enforcement investigator, also runs a school choice program that mostly benefits the children of its own employees who live outside of the district’s borders."

Education bureaucrat: 'I will question parents as I see fit'


"Ohio has hundreds of school districts, several regional education support organizations, many local and state school boards, tens of thousands of homeschooling families—and one especially supercilious public school superintendent," the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) notes in a recent dispatch.
David Hile, who heads the Licking Valley Local School District, wrote HSLDA recently to say he did not appreciate our request that he limit his oversight of homeschooling students to what the law permits. 
“It is my responsibility under the law,” he insisted, “to ensure that children in my district are receiving an adequate education [and] I take that responsibility very seriously, whether those children are in our schools or homeschooled. I will continue to question parents as I see fit.” 
This exchange, ironically, arose from Hile’s excessive inquisitiveness regarding a homeschooled student’s test score. The student had scored in the 30th percentile on a standardized test taken to fulfill end-of-year assessment requirements. Hile felt the score was too low and asked to see the student’s subtest scores. 
At that point the student’s mother contacted HSLDA. 
Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly, who assists members in Ohio, wrote to Hile, explaining that his request went beyond what he was entitled to ask for by law. Donnelly cited the Ohio Administrative Code, which says, “Any child that has a composite score at or above the twenty-fifth percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.” 
Though our member’s issue was resolved soon afterward, Hile still saw fit to fire off his bristling reply. His response further demonstrated a lack of understanding regarding how to interpret a nationally norm-referenced assessment as well as a disconcerting attitude with respect to who is responsible for the education of the child. Hile wrote that he considered a child who scored in the 30th percentile on a standardized test “2–3 years below grade level (as 50th percentile is on grade level on NNRA).” 
As a professional educator, Hile should know percentile scores on a norm-referenced assessment that is standardized nationally, as required by Ohio regulations, reflect how many students performed at or above that level—not what grade level the child is. Perhaps Hile is thinking of the state public tests, which are criterion-referenced rather than nationally normed standardized achievement tests, and which simply show how a child scores compared to others on the same test. A score of the 30th percentile simply means that 30% of the students scored below a particular result on that test. 
“Hile’s response was an over-the-top and overbearing reaction to a simple point of clarification,” Donnelly said. “His attitude reflects an arrogance that implies homeschoolers are not up to the task of educating their children. The facts show that the reverse is true, and I will happily defend our members when they encounter problems with similar public school officials.” 
He added: “Superintendent Hiles’ unnecessarily bristling response to my short letter shows why homeschooling families need HSLDA—who wants to have to deal with someone like this?”

Audit shows financial mismanagement in Crooked Oak school district

"State inspectors found tens of thousands of dollars in financial mismanagement at a small local school district," KFOR reports. Among State Auditor Gary Jones's findings:
  • A district support employee was paid more than $105,000 over three fiscal years—about $60,000 more than authorized—documented on false time sheets.
  • Superintendent Bradley Richards received an increase of more than $19,000 and $600 stipends that were not outlined in his contract.
  • The superintendent incurred a $25,500 debt against the district that the board did not approve.
  • The Clerk destroyed credit card statements and logs, which were essential to documenting expenditure activity.
  • The district provided a school board member with cell phone service for 18 months after the individual stopped serving on the board.
  • The district paid $2,513 for a phone that was not used.
  • The district sold surplus property, without approval from the school board, and did not maintain records.
UPDATE: The Oklahoman has more details and an excellent house editorial.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Arrest warrant issued for former Oklahoma teacher

FOX 25 has the story.

School choice makes teachers free to teach


"Our whole education system is designed to treat teachers like factory line workers, not responsible professionals," Greg Forster writes in Perspective. "School choice breaks the government monopoly by putting parents in charge—getting politicians out of the classroom."

'Oklahoma is something of a hotbed of teacher-sex stories'

More national attention, this time from The Daily Caller.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Oklahoma Library Association pushing transgender propaganda at 10-year-old students

From Trent England's weekly recap:
The Oklahoma Library Association is pushing transgender propaganda at 10-year-old students, and The Trent England Show is the only media talking about it. 
A school administrator admitted to me this is in most public schools, but says he’s “not sure” whether it is appropriate. He tells me he needs more information.... 
School choice is the only strategic defense against social engineering in public schools. And you know what? It’s not because many people would leave the schools. It’s about power—the power to make a choice would put parents in charge instead of politicians and other elites.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Public schools accept everyone?

Some folks in the public education community are fond of asserting that public schools have to take all comers. Writing in the Journal of School Choice ("Homeschooling, Virtual Learning, and the Eroding Public/Private Binary"), Aaron Saiger reminds us that this is not true. Mr. Saiger—formerly a law clerk for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now a law professor at Fordham University—writes:
In the context of bricks-and-mortar education, districts, especially affluent ones like Fairfax [Virginia], have mightily resisted admitting or registering students from out of district. Options for interdistrict transfers that have been a part of education reform packages have generally withered. Such programs generally provide that receiving, wealthy districts must certify that there is space for additional students; and such districts rarely do so.

This has been the case, for example, in the Cleveland school voucher program. This program permitted parents of Cleveland public school children to receive vouchers for use outside the district. That program, and the Supreme Court case upholding it, was famous because it allowed the vouchers to be used at private religious schools [Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. 536 U.S. 639 (2002).]. But the voucher law also provided that vouchers could be cashed at public schools in neighboring, whiter, wealthier districts. This part of the program was not famous. This is because no vouchers moved across district lines. Receiving districts had to agree to accept the vouchers, and none would.

Similarly, until a legislative reauthorization in late 2015, the federal No Child Left Behind Act provided that children in what the Act called “failing” schools be permitted to transfer to other, more effective school districts. Again, this required that nonfailing districts accept such students. Unsurprisingly, almost none were willing. Most cited space constraints [Aikens, A. (2005). "Being choosy: An analysis of public school choice under No Child Left Behind." West Virginia Law Review, 108, 233.]. It should surprise no one that interdistrict transfer was the least utilized plank of the Act.

A century of miseducation of America's teachers

"For the sake of our children," writes Robert W. Sweet, Jr., "let’s not let another year go by without applying to reading instruction what common sense and years of research tell us."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Liberal think tank spotlights Oklahoma's black market in school choice


Over at the blog of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Camille Landry has an excellent post on Oklahoma families who break the law in order to secure a better education for their children.

Boundary-hopping has been going on for a long time, of course—Tulsa Union even employs border-patrol bureaucrats to check the bedrooms of 12-year-old girls—but it's good to see the issue getting some much-needed attention.

UPDATE: Jonathan Small discusses this important topic on The Trent England Show.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

McCain, Lankford ESA bill clears committee

Sen. John McCain
In a news release, the American Federation for Children applauded passage in the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs of a bill to expand education savings accounts (ESAs) to tribal children who are attending federally funded Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools in four states. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the sponsor of S. 2711, the Native American Education Opportunity Act (NAEO). Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is a co-sponsor.
NAEO provides students living on tribal lands the ability to opt out of their BIE school and use an Education Savings Account (ESA) to pay for the school or curriculum of their parent’s choice. 
Sen. McCain presented a convincing argument to committee members by decrying the extremely low graduation rates and poor educational outcomes on tribal lands. 
“A new school year has begun for about 41,000 Native American students in 185 BIE schools around the nation,” said Senator McCain. “Statistically, half of them will not graduate high school. Their test scores will trail by double digits compared to their peers attending public schools in urban areas. While some BIE schools have not been inspected for safety in 10 years, BIE spends more money on Native students than most other school systems in the nation-an estimated $15,000 per student per year. This is unacceptable. I thank the committee for passing my legislation that builds upon school choice initiatives run by states like Arizona, Mississippi and Florida, that empower low-income families to send their kids to a school of their choice – including charter schools, distance learning, and special needs classes.” 
Sen. James Lankford
“When you look at the state of some tribal schools and the dismal outcomes for students living on tribal lands, it is clear that we must do more to help Native American children get a quality education,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “We are grateful to Sen. McCain for his leadership on this bill and thank the other committee members for supporting the Native American families that absolutely need school choice and the resources to ensure the best education for their children.” 
NAEO would apply to the states that have both an ESA program and BIE schools, which include Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Mississippi. If NAEO passes, BIE parents can choose to use their child’s ESA to pay for private school, online school, homeschool, books, tutors and education therapies. 
NAEO is a federal compliment of an existing state law already in place in Arizona where children living on tribal lands and attending state-funded public schools are automatically eligible to receive an ESA. 
“In 2015, when we passed the state-funded ESA bill to benefit Arizona’s Native American children, many BIE parents wondered why their children were excluded from having this option,” said Arizona Sen. Carlyle Begay, R-LD7. “We quickly realized we need to fix this disparity at a federal level so it is great news that today’s vote brings us closer to giving BIE families the option of using school choice.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

To whom do children belong?


In her new book To Whom Do Children Belong?: Parental Rights, Civic Education, and Children's Autonomy (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Melissa Moschella, an assistant professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America, explains why education is primarily the responsibility of parents and why policymakers should expand school-choice policies. It is available for purchase here.

School choice must support and protect Catholic education

"Catholics need to stand unified behind certain principles and demand that politicians and legislators support them," Patrick Reilly writes. These principles include:
  • Parents have a primary right and responsibility to educate their children, and therefore they must have the freedom to choose an education that teaches their faith and values without government intrusion or persecution.
  • Catholic schools must have the religious freedom to teach the Catholic faith and values without government intrusion or persecution, regardless of their receipt of public funds or their participation in taxpayer-funded programs available to other private schools.
  • Any public funding for education should respect the right of parents to choose the school that is best for their child, and funding should follow the child—not discriminate against religion by funding only secular, government-run schools.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Parents file $2.5 million sexual-abuse lawsuit against Jay Public Schools

The Grove Sun has the story.

Charter schools are reinventing local control

"America’s devotion to local control of schools is dying, but it is also being reborn as a new faith in charter schools," Chester Finn, Bruno Manno, and Brandon Wright opine in today's Wall Street Journal.

Why teachers make so much less than professional athletes

Economist Donald J. Boudreaux reminds us why we wouldn't want to live in a world where the opposite held true.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Small discusses per-pupil spending, union ineffectiveness

In news stories on the CBS affiliates in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OCPA president Jonathan Small points out some inconvenient truths on per-pupil spending and on labor union ineffectiveness.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Oklahoma school districts fail to comply with transparency law

Gov. Brad Henry signed the School District Transparency Act into law in 2010. But over at OCPA’s Center for Investigative Journalism, Jay Chilton reports that not all school districts are in compliance.

Commode Core shows why we need school choice

The Obama administration’s bathroom bullying, Greg Forster writes in Perspective, demonstrates the conflict between America’s commitment to a pluralistic society and its policy of maintaining a government school monopoly.

Spending priorities and the $1.5 million press box

Oklahoma’s education system had $8.7 billion in total revenue last year, the most in state history, OCPA president Jonathan Small writes. But in a bloated system with questionable spending priorities and more non-teachers than teachers, the money simply isn’t going to teachers.

Fired OKC high school teacher charged in sexual battery case involving students

The Oklahoman has the story.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year to be announced on Tuesday


The Oklahoma State Department of Education has the details on the upcoming announcement of the 2017 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Pictured above (at left) is OCPA’s Estela Hernandez, who served as a judge in the competition. At right is Myron Pope, vice president for student affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma, one of the other judges in the contest.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

'School choice can be a winning issue'

So notes The Oklahoman in a house editorial today. 
In Senate District 25 in the Tulsa area, Republican Joe Newhouse won easily against Lisa Kramer. Newhouse supported school choice, including education savings accounts. Kramer was strongly opposed, even voting as a member of the Bixby school board to ignore Oklahoma law and deny state scholarships to children with special needs. That became an issue in the runoff.

Republican Scott McEachin won his runoff handily for the House District 67 seat against an opponent who was vocally against school choice. The contrast wasn't as stark in other races, but several candidates who supported school choice and ESAs won their GOP runoffs. These include Pugh, Dave Rader in Senate District 39, Matt Jackson in House District 85 and Lonnie Paxton in Senate District 23. In some of those races, both runoff candidates supported school choice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The myth of the underpaid teacher lives on

Larry Sand on the latest report from a union front group.

Parental choice candidates advance

Supporters of parental choice in education should be pleased with last night's election results, as a press release from the American Federation for Children (AFC) makes clear.

Joe Newhouse
In Senate District 25, "AFC supported Joe Newhouse over his opponent Lisa Kramer. Newhouse is a U.S. Navy fighter pilot who campaigned as a supporter of public education and school choice, including education savings accounts or ESAs. Newhouse’s opponent opposed school choice and as a member of the Bixby School Board voted to defy the law and deny students with special needs access to state-funded scholarships. In the end, SD 25 voters strongly supported Newhouse’s optimistic message of school choice over Kramer’s indifference to children with very serious challenges."

The result shouldn't be surprising—by now it's no secret that Republicans support school choice—but still it seemed like it would be a close race. It wasn't until I saw the kiss-of-death endorsement from the Tulsa World telling Republicans to vote for the longtime Democrat Kramer that I knew this race would indeed be Melissa Abdo 2.0. Incidentally, some folks profess to be quite upset about "dark money" (also known as "First Amendment money") when it helps pro-school-choice candidates but seem blissfully unconcerned when it helps anti-school-choice candidates.

Scott McEachin
In House District 67, "AFC supported Scott McEachin in the runoff. McEachin is an attorney and longtime Republican activist who campaigned on boosting teacher pay without tax increases and supporting school choice, namely ESAs." OCPA trustee Tom Coburn endorsed McEachin, and some OCPA staff and family members made weekend treks to Tulsa to knock doors for him. McEachin's opponent was surprisingly vocal in his opposition to school choice, almost as if he thought he was involved in a Democratic runoff. In other words, he chose a position contrary to Ronald Reagan and James Lankford and Mary Fallin and Todd Lamb and Scott Pruitt and Jim Bridenstine and the state and national GOP platforms. And, he lost the GOP runoff 56.44 percent to 43.56 percent. Ouch.

"Additional candidates who have supported school choice and ESAs in writing won their primary elections as well," AFC adds. They are (clockwise, from top left): Adam Pugh, Senate District 41; Dave Rader, Senate District 39; Matt Jackson, House District 85; and Lonnie Paxton, Senate District 23.


"Tonight’s victories follow an impressive showing by pro-school choice candidates in the June primaries where 12 out of 15 bipartisan candidates supported by AFC either won their election outright or advanced to a runoff election," AFC says.

UPDATE: Though AFC says Adam Pugh supported ESAs in writing, journalist Patrick McGuigan now reports that Pugh appears to have changed his position. At the 2:00 mark below, McGuigan discusses the matter with Alex Cameron of the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City: