Thursday, April 28, 2016

Quote of the day

"Let’s talk about teachers for a moment. Some are great, some are decent, and some are better suited for another career. We knew this when we were students. We see it as parents. It’s even obvious to us sometimes as colleagues down the hall. The vast majority of teachers fit into the first two categories. Of that, we should be quite proud. Just the same, nearly all schools have someone who brings us all down."

 Mid-Del Schools superintendent Rick Cobb

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Let families grade schools

"Want to hurt kids? Put state bureaucrats in charge of evaluating the schools in school choice programs," Greg Forster writes in the May issue of Perspective. "Recent events in Louisiana show how this undermines schools and hurts kids. But the education blob in Oklahoma apparently cares more about enforcing the government monopoly than about what delivers a good education to kids who need it." Read the entire article here, and listen to Forster's conversation with OCPA's Trent England here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

'Some places have shortages of teachers, others have surpluses'

"Alarm bells are sounding about teacher shortages across the country," including Oklahoma, Jill Barshay writes today for The Hechinger Report ("Cries about national teacher shortages might be overblown").
But a September 2015 report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a nonprofit research firm, found that demand was outstripping supply by less than 1 percent throughout the state. Shortages were found in only three regions of Oklahoma; in the central part of the state, the researchers predicted a surplus of teachers next year.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Education reformers are winning the long game

"When Oklahoma and other states first authorized charter schools, charters were detested by the education establishment," The Oklahoman editorializes today. "In 1999, an official with the Oklahoma State School Board Association even compared charter school supporters to Nazi propagandists."
But the subsequent successes of charter schools, which are now undeniable, have forced a reassessment. Few things highlight this fact more than the overwhelming bipartisan support given to a new law that will allow traditional public schools to duplicate many elements of the charter model. ... 
House Bill 2720 would allow a board of education in any traditional school district to convert a school site to a “conversion” school that would operate free of many those same restrictions, making the school a charter school in all but name. 
Notably, HB 2720 was authored by Rep. Emily Virgin, a Norman Democrat who lands well on the liberal side of the political spectrum. And it's notable that HB 2720 passed without opposition in the Senate, and in the House on a bipartisan 76-19 vote. So even many Democrats who previously criticized charter schools as somehow undermining the traditional public school system are now tacitly acknowledging the success of the charter model. ... 
[T]he biggest takeaway from the easy passage of this new law is that education reformers are winning the battle, despite the long, hard slog. Some current reform proposals, such as education savings accounts, are attacked with ferocity. Yet the same thing was once true of charter schools, and now that reform is widely accepted. 
Few things are a surer sign of victory than seeing former opponents quietly stroll to your side of the aisle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Campus police confiscate firearm from Hale High School

The News on 6 has the story.  

Oklahoma's budget hole could be $1 billion deeper

"Policymakers staring at Oklahoma’s budget hole should (1) thank the parents of 100,000 students that the hole’s not a lot deeper," I recently wrote in the Tulsa World, "and (2) try to entice some of the parents of 692,000 students to help fill that hole." The article is here, and a helpful spreadsheet is here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Education policy in 'the next conservative movement'

If conservatives "can look past their own nostalgia," Yuval Levin writes, "they will be well positioned to grasp the appeal of a politics of decentralization and diffusion, and thus to offer solutions suited to the society America has become."
[C]onsider primary and secondary education, where the old progressive model was the universal public-school system—offering one product to all and administering it in as centralized a way as public opinion would permit. The new conservative approach would instead direct its resources to let parents make choices for their children and allow the education system to take shape around their priorities and preferences. 

Student arrested after bringing gun to Capitol Hill High School

KOCO has the story.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

OKC teacher arrested for indecent exposure

The Oklahoman has the story.

Leftist orthodoxy as the gateway drug to jihad

Today in The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens discusses the mindset of many of today's jihadists.
They are also sons of the West—educated in the schools of multiculturalism, reared on the works of Noam Chomsky and perhaps Frantz Fanon, consumers of a news diet heavy with reports of perfidy by American or British or Israeli soldiers. If Islamism is their ideological drug of choice, the political orthodoxies of the modern left are their gateway to it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Studies used to promote pre-K actually make the case for a different approach

Aides, supporting positions proliferate at Oklahoma public schools

Ben Felder, citing research from economist Benjamin Scafidi, has the story in The Oklahoman. To see Dr. Scafidi's recent presentation in Oklahoma, click here.

House Speaker: Common education got $8.2 billion this year, the most in state history

"In 2005, voters handed Republicans control of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for only the second time in history," House Speaker Jeff Hickman writes in The Oklahoman.
The state's transportation system was crumbling, our prison system was dangerously overcrowded, and the Capitol building was falling apart after decades of neglect. Oklahoma had a noncompetitive income tax rate and possibly the worst-funded public pension system in the nation. 
Republicans also inherited an education system where too many dollars weren't going to the classroom and teacher salaries, and student outcomes needed improvement. That first year, House Republicans gave our schools an immediate increase of $168 million, and education remains one of our highest priorities more than a decade later. 
From 2007 through 2015, funding for preK-12 schools increased more than $136.8 million (5.83 percent), while many other state agencies received cuts of more than 25 percent. Beginning in 2012, Republicans increased common education funding a total of nearly $207 million over three years, and last year, despite a budget shortfall of $611 million, local schools received no budget cut. 
Today, 51 percent of the state budget is dedicated to education, with almost 35 percent going to preK-12 schools. Between state appropriations and local and federal sources, our preK-12 education system received a record $8.2 billion for the current fiscal year, the most in state history, which includes nearly $300 million for the teachers retirement system.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Oklahoma City high school coach suspect in rape

The Oklahoman has the story.

Public-school penury watch

This struck me as amusing. There's a story today in The Oklahoman about what the Edmond school superintendent calls the "funding crisis" in the Edmond schools. It's 395 words of gloom and despair, then we get to this sentence: "Santa Fe will move its home games to its new $10 million stadium in the fall."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Strengthening Oklahoma's commitment to the public financing of K-12 education

"ESAs are gaining popularity because they bring two important features to K-12 education that it often lacks: customization for children and accountability for taxpayers," Lindsey M. Burke and Robert C. Enlow write today ("Fight for education choice in Oklahoma must continue").
ESAs are a critically needed refinement of the public education model. Instead of allocating taxpayer funding directly to school districts based on student counts and with little concern for school performance, ESAs enable funding to go directly to parents, who can then choose options — whether private schooling, individual public school courses, tutors, or other options — that best match their children's unique learning needs. 
ESAs would strengthen Oklahoma's commitment to the public financing of K-12 education by moving away from state-run schools being the sole provider of that education. By separating the financing of education from the delivery of services, ESAs gives parents the power to customize the best possible education for their children.

Friday, April 1, 2016

'I feel like I'm treated the right way'

Does school choice threaten the independence of religious schools?

People of faith are sometimes skeptical of school choice programs because they fear those programs could come with strings attached.

"The evangelical tradition of skepticism toward involvement with the state is generally a healthy one," Greg Forster writes in this month's issue of Perspective, "but these particular fears are unfounded. Parents, not government, have the power in school choice programs. Schools are not getting entangled with the state, but with parents."

Indeed, Forster explains, "school choice actually creates a strong public constituency for protecting the autonomy of private schools! And the larger the school choice program is, the stronger that constituency is. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, school choice may actually be the most promising strategy we have for fighting off the threat of government control of religious institutions—a threat that is currently growing for reasons that have nothing to do with school choice."

I encourage you to read his entire article, "Churches for Choice," here.

UPDATE: Dr. Forster's conversation with OCPA's Trent England is available here.

Union Public Schools assistant band director resigns after arrest on child porn charges

FOX 23 has the story.