Tuesday, May 31, 2016

AG says OKC school district took the money but failed to serve mentally ill students

The fact that Oklahoma City school district officials "apparently turned a blind eye to children with severe mental illness and failed to provide those children an education is inexcusable," The Oklahoman editorializes today. "The requirement that public schools serve all local students is an obligation, not just a rhetorical crutch used to dismiss academic struggles."

Friday, May 27, 2016

Put parents first

AEI's Gerard Robinson is out with a new survey of parental rights and responsibilities in school choice laws.

How can parents know?

I've mentioned before that the Oklahoma League of Women Voters is a liberal organization with a bias toward the government school monopoly. It looks like the Florida chapter is no better. "Last week," Jason Bedrick writes, "the president and education chair of the Florida State League of Women Voters (LWV)—which is a party to the Florida teacher union’s lawsuit against the state’s tax-credit scholarship program—argued that some parents are just not well-informed enough to choose a school for their own kids."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Teacher certification guarantees nothing

"Traditionally certified teachers are no more or less effective, on average, than alternatively certified or even uncertified teachers," Jason Bedrick reminds us.

$9,724 per student

That's what Oklahoma taxpayers are spending, according to data from the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System. That's $243,100 for a classroom of 25 students. 

Clearly the money isn't going to the teacher.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The bathroom battle is already lost

"President Barack Obama intends to force every public school to permit transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity even if this choice differs from their present physical gender," law professor Andrew Spiropoulos writes.
Many states, including Oklahoma, argue that the federal civil rights laws the president is purporting to enforce do not address the difficult issues concerning transgender individuals. 
The states, as usual, are right on the law. And the president, as usual, will get his way. Why? Because school districts know if they refuse to obey the mandates, the administration will cut off their federal education funding. Speeches about the rule of law may move emotion, but it is cash that moves action. 
This battle is already lost – the feds rule. But it is important to understand when it was lost. The states weren’t defeated when President Obama was elected. They lost their autonomy when they decided to take the federal money. Many people don’t know that the Constitution prohibits the federal government from forcing states to implement federal policy. But it does allow Washington to purchase state compliance. 
Therefore, the time to fight federal overreach is not when the federal Don Corleone comes to collect his debt. You can only protect your sovereignty, self-respect, and policy autonomy by spurning the seductive offer of federal cash. Once you’ve sold out, there’s no turning back.
Meanwhile, author and pastor Douglas Wilson asks: "If your kid is still in the government schools after this fiasco, my only question at this point is, what is it going to take? Are you going to hang on to the salt and light argument until mandatory sex reassignment surgeries are being performed by sophomores in high school biology classes, using plastic picnic ware? And their reason for the plastic surgical instruments was because you and your hateful kind voted against the last levy?"

More evidence: school choice works

"A vast body of research shows educational choice programs improve academic outcomes for students and schools, saves taxpayers money, reduces segregation in schools and improves students’ civic values," Greg Forster writes. "The fourth edition of A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice brings together 100 empirical studies on each of these essential questions in one comprehensive report."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The national teacher shortage claim ...

... is still short on data, writes former classroom teacher Larry Sand.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

School choice boosts test scores

M. Danish Shakeel, Kaitlin Anderson, and Patrick J. Wolf have released "a meta-analysis of 19 'gold standard' experimental evaluations of the test-score effects of private school choice programs around the world," Wolf writes.
The sum of the reliable evidence indicates that, on average, private school choice increases the reading scores of choice users by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by 0.15 standard deviations. These are highly statistically significant, educationally meaningful achievement gains of several months of additional learning from school choice. The achievement benefits of private school choice appear to be somewhat larger for programs in developing countries than for those in the U.S. Publicly-funded programs produce larger test-score gains than privately-funded ones.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The transgender straw that broke the camel’s back

It's time to "give every family the option to spend their share of tax dollars at the school of their choice," David French writes.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

'Oklahoma school results not always in sync with spending'

"In education, it's commonly asserted that Oklahoma's academic performance would improve if the state spent more money," The Oklahoman editorializes today. "But when that theory is put to the test, it's hard to find a strong correlation between spending and improved outcomes."
Oklahoma's average per-pupil funding ranks toward the bottom in 50-state comparisons. However, while the state formula attempts to equalize funding so districts with low local property values aren't disadvantaged compared with those with high valuations, that formula has its limits. Some districts spend far more per pupil than others, according to an Education Week analysis of federal data for all the nation's schools in the 2013 fiscal year. That analysis, highlighted recently by National Public Radio, also adjusted sums for regional differences in cost of living. 
Nationally, the average U.S. school spent $11,841 per student. While many Oklahoma districts spent less, a surprising number spent more—sometimes far more. How do those schools measure up? The results are all over the map: 
Keyes spent $19,700 per student. Yet on state report cards, the district's elementary school received an F last year. 
Nashoba spent $14,809 per pupil. It received a C-plus (a significant improvement from F in 2014). 
White Oak spent $17,316 per student. It was an F school in 2015. 
Copan spent $17,744. It had a D-plus elementary and a C-minus high school last year. It also has a graduation rate of just 70 percent, according to data from Oklahoma Watch. 
Taloga spent $22,405. The district's elementary and high school each received D-minus grades. 
Deer Creek-Lamont in Grant County spent $16,834 per student. Its elementary school received a B and its high school received a C-plus. 
The Yarbrough district spent $26,713 per student. Its elementary received a C and the high school received a B-minus last year. 
Arnett spent $15,618 per student and has an A high school. 
Battiest spent $11,284 (below the national average but higher than many Oklahoma schools) and has an A high school. 
In short, Oklahoma schools with per-pupil spending well above the national average did both better and worse than schools that spent less. There's no consistent correlation between spending and outcomes. 
One argument for increased school funding is that it allows for smaller class sizes. Most of the aforementioned schools are so small that officials must withhold district-level data on third-grade reading results or ACT scores because it could lead to identification of specific students. Thus, even the combination of much higher per-pupil spending and small class sizes didn't consistently generate dramatically improved outcomes.
I encourage you to read the entire piece here.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Atheist professor yearns for the end of 'unsupervised homeschooling'

Excellent column ("Children of the state") by Janie B. Cheaney on the dangerous philosophy of Daniel Dennett.

Former OKC superintendent was gone 125.5 days during 21-month tenure

Tim Willert reports today for The Oklahoman:
A reputation followed former Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu during his tenure overseeing the district. 
Never here. 
“From the beginning of his employment people were saying he was only here three or four days a week,” said Ed Allen, president of the union that bargains with the district on behalf of 2,800 teachers. ... 
During his 21 months heading the state's largest school district, Neu was out of the office 125.5 days, or three out of every 10 work days, according to records released this week by the district. 
The time off included 67 vacation days, 15 sick days, two days of bereavement leave and 41.5 days of “professional leave.” 
Under his contract, Neu annually accrued 35 vacation days, 12 sick days and three days of leave for “personal business.” 
His contract also allowed Neu to take annual leave for consulting work, speaking engagements, writing, lecturing and other professional activities, but was silent on how much such leave Neu could take. 
His contract also required Neu to file an annual report to the board listing any outside employment. 
Neu never filed such a report and it's unclear whether or not Neu engaged in any business outside of the district that would have required such a report to be filed.
School board members voted April 25 to cut ties with Neu, approving a separation agreement with the embattled superintendent. Neu is on administrative leave through June 30. ... 
Allen, who quarreled with Neu over discipline issues, placed some of the blame on the school board for hiring the former Federal Way, Wash., superintendent and approving a contract that paid him an annual salary of $240,000 plus about $65,000 in benefits, including vacation days, fully paid family health insurance and a $10,000 annual car allowance. 
“Why would you allow someone to be gone nearly 30 percent of the time?” Allen asked. “That makes no sense, but our board thought that was appropriate. 
“It was poor judgment in hiring him and they showed a total lack of oversight of his activities.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

McCain proposes ESAs for Native American students

"Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) recently proposed Senate Bill 2711, titled the Native American Education Opportunity Act," Lennie Jarratt writes for the Deseret News. "The bill would direct the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reimburse states that fund education savings account (ESA) programs that allow Native American students to attend a school of their choice."