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 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."