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.


  • 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."
  • CBPP's 2017 report actually undermines many #OklaEd arguments.

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.

[UPDATE: Proposed legislation creating an individual tax credit cleared one legislative hurdle in 2019.]

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.