Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Public education and Orange Julius

"Heritage Park Mall is a tomb," Kevin D. Williamson reports from Midwest City. Moreover, 
[W]hat is quite clear is that our current system of education, which focuses the great majority of its energy and resources on those students at the very top of the performance curve and those at the very bottom, is not doing very much for those in the middle. It is as relevant to the 21st century as an Orange Julius or a Chess King outlet—dead as Heritage Park Mall, even if it doesn’t know it yet.
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Growing grassroots movements confronting school sex assault

"In Oklahoma," the Associated Press reports, "a district agreed to hire victim advocates after a walk-out by high school students who felt their high school failed to protect girls who had been bullied for reporting attacks."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Futile accountability systems should be abandoned

"Test-based accountability is essentially a central-planning exercise similar to that used by officials in the Soviet Union in attempting to manage the country’s economy," Jay P. Greene writes in the Summer 2017 issue of EducationNext. "In both cases, a distant official selected a particular goal for production, focused on a limited set of metrics to assess whether goals were met, and then threatened to impose rewards or sanctions based on whether those metrics showed desired results. Central planning failed in the Soviet Union, and it is failing here in public education—and for similar reasons."

I encourage you to read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Politicians shouldn’t penalize parents

Parents, not government officials, have the moral right to raise their children according to their consciences.

That, in a nutshell, is why school choice is so important.

Think about it. In a free society, the government rightly defers to parents when it comes to raising their children. Bottle-feed or breastfeed? Spanking or time-out? Piano lessons or karate lessons? For countless decisions every day, the government defers to parents when it comes to raising their children.

And since education is simply a subset of parenting (as education professor Jay Greene sagely reminds us), the government should defer to parents when it comes to educating their children.

Now obviously the government is going to spend money on education. But politicians shouldn’t play favorites, directing all the money to schools operated by the government. Let’s direct some of it to parents in the form of a voucher or a tax break.

We know that Oklahoma’s political leaders respect parents. In 2014 they enacted a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” to ensure that no state government entity infringes upon parents’ rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

But as important as that law is, it’s time to translate its principles into effective remedies, says Oklahoma City University law professor Andrew Spiropoulos. “We must guarantee all parents, no matter their income, the effective right to exit a failing school and choose one, public or private, that satisfies their needs.”

Happily, we already do this for some parents. For example, Oklahoma’s private-school voucher program is helping certain bullied children, autistic students, rural students who want a faith-based education, and many more.

Moreover, our state’s tax-credit scholarship program is helping hearing-impaired children, homeless students, teenage students battling addiction, and more—all while saving the state money.

So private-school choice is working for those who are eligible. But we need to do more. All parents have the right to direct their child’s path.

School-choice foes say we shouldn’t “drain money from public schools.” But that assumes the public schools are entitled to the money in the first place. In truth, they have no place of privilege, says Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Williams, a liberal Democrat. He rejects “the antiquated belief that existing public school systems have the right of first refusal when it comes to educating our children.”

Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, strikes the right balance. “I am very pro public schools,” he says. But he also supports parental choice. In fulfilling their God-given duty to raise their children, he says, parents “should be able to consider the best option for their children’s whole education and formation.”

Some parents would prefer a more rigorous curriculum for their children. Others are tired of all the bullying. Others simply don't want their daughters sharing a locker room with boys. In the Tulsa Public Schools, for example, “gender non-conforming students” have the right to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their “gender identity.”

And it's not just Tulsa. Aaron Baker, an 8th grade history teacher in the Mid-Del school district, points out that several other school districts don't discriminate on the basis of "gender expression or identity." (Mr. Baker promotes "radical social justice in Oklahoma public schools," so he's enthusiastically on board with this radical social experiment.) These districts include BristowBroken Arrow, ClevelandCollinsville, Durant, GlenpoolMid-Del, OkemahOwasso, Ponca City, ShawneeStillwater, and Tulsa Union.

"[W]e have now sunk to a depth," George Orwell once observed, "at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." In that spirit, let us now reaffirm that a six-year-old girl is not a boy. A 14-year-old boy does not belong in the girls' locker room. After all, if children lack the perceptual judgment and physical skills to cross a busy street, the American College of Pediatricians reminds us, they certainly are not competent to decide they're the wrong sex or to consent to mutilation. Regrettably, we have now sunk to a depth where some grown-ups, refusing to state the obvious, choose to participate in systemic, taxpayer-supported child abuse.

Most Oklahoma parents reject this moral insanity and are zealous to protect their children's privacy. Politicians should not penalize these or any other parents (by making them pay twice) for raising their children according to their consciences.


[A shorter version of this piece appeared March 26 in The Oklahoman.]

Monday, May 15, 2017

Keep education—and choice—in the states

"Education reformers face an enormous temptation to use federal power to foist choice upon the states," Greg Forster writes for OCPA. This would be a bad idea, he says, whether the policy is Title I portability or a federal tax credit.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Government schools: Sowing the seeds of our destruction

"Several years ago, the Independent Institute honored Andy Garcia at our unforgettable Gala for Liberty," Mary Theroux writes.
There was not a dry eye in the house (including his) as Andy Garcia recounted his memories of leaving his home, Cuba, at the age of 5. 
Once the Castros had seized power, they passed a law giving the State full rights over all children. As I had been taught by my true-believing Marxist Development Economics professors at Stanford, this is how you build the “New Man” that makes Socialism the ideal society. 
Cuban parents not wanting their children to be raw material for Marxist experiments, instead made the ultimate sacrifice and turned their children over to the Catholic church’s Peter Pan project, under which their children were flown to live in freedom with families in the United States—not knowing if they would ever see their children again, and many of whom did not. 
After Andy Garcia’s mother reported to his father that she had seen Andy (at the age of 5) marching and singing the Internationale, his family joined the exodus. Fortunately, Andy’s father was able to later also leave Cuba, and the family was reunited in Florida.
Read the whole thing here.

Public-school educator tells homeschooled teenagers: ‘You can go to hell’

"I’m as gay as the day is long and twice as sunny," an assistant principal said to some homeschooled teenagers. "I don’t give a f— what you think Jesus tells me."

Friday, May 5, 2017

Want to regulate schools? Use parents

"It should not astonish us," Corey DeAngelis writes, "that families are selecting schools that do not specialize in producing obedient test-taking machines. Naturally, it is likely that parents care less about standardized tests than the overall development of their children. ... If we really want to ensure that children have access to high-quality schools, we ought to use the most powerful form of regulation that we have: parental choice."

School choice research is not a weapon

"When it comes to something with as many moving pieces as school choice, research is more useful as a flashlight than as a firearm," writes AEI scholar Rick Hess.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sapulpa 2nd grade teacher arrested for drugs, embezzlement

"A Sapulpa 2nd grade teacher was arrested on drug and embezzlement complaints Monday, May 2 at Holmes Park Elementary," the News on 6 reports.
Court records show the assistant superintendent called police after the teacher, Megan Nicole Sloan, left her Facebook account open on another teacher's computer. Administrator Johnny Bilby told police the second teacher could see a conversation where Sloan was talking about using and selling heroin as well as pawning items that belonged to the school, an affidavit states. 
Officers say they met with Sloan in the principal's office, and the teacher told them she had "Xanax footballs" in her purse and admitted to selling school iPads as well as using student field trip money to buy drugs and gas. Officers also said they found multiple syringes in her purse--some with exposed needles. One officer estimated there may have been as many as 40 syringes in Sloan's purse and a makeup bag. At least one of the syringes contained brown liquid police said was heroin.