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

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.