Thursday, April 19, 2018

Does OEA have nearly 40,000 members?


"With nearly 40,000 members, the Oklahoma Education Association represents many, but not all of the state's teachers," The Oklahoman reported last week.

It's true that the OEA claims to have "nearly 40,000 members." But according to the NEA's own financial report, OEA's total membership—active members plus "other" members (staff, students, retired teachers, et al.)—was 19,843 at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

I sent the NEA financial report to The Oklahoman's reporter. Here's hoping The Oklahoman will append a correction to the online version of the story.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Oklahoma mom laments 'the constant barrage of hate spewing forth from adults in my school district'

"I will never be surprised by issues of bullying in our schools after observing the copious amounts of bullying that went on during this strike," one Oklahoma mom observes.

Why more school districts are switching to four-day weeks

"Over half of Colorado’s public school districts have permission from the state to compress their schedule," Sophie Quinton reports. "Most such districts are small and rural, but that’s changing. A suburban district near Denver and an urban district in Pueblo have recently grabbed headlines by announcing that they plan to switch to four-day weeks in the fall."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

OEA sends fundraising email to parents

One wonders: How did they get the parents' email addresses?

The real budget story behind the teachers strike: Medicaid and public pensions

"It's worth looking to see what’s really pinching school spending," The Wall Street Journal editorializes today.
Following the nationwide trend, Medicaid has taken a growing toll on Oklahoma’s budget. In 2017 the health-care program that is supposedly for the poor consumed nearly 25% of the state’s general fund, up from 14% in 2008, as nearly 200,000 more people enrolled. Lawmakers are left with less money for everything else, not least education. 

Test scores don't align with life outcomes

"It takes a broad vision to know what education is, and qualitative human judgment to know when schools are providing it," Greg Forster writes. "The future of school accountability is the people at large—not a specialist expert class—empowered to use their full human judgment to evaluate schools that they know personally. In other words, school choice and other forms of local control."

Monday, April 16, 2018

The union behind the teacher walkout

Excellent column by Enid News & Eagle​ columnist Dave Ruthenberg, who exposes the far-left agenda of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) and its parent organization, the National Education Association (NEA).

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Oklahoma socialists 'unable to help guide the education strike to victory'

A century ago, Oklahoma had the strongest socialist movement in the U.S.," Eric Blanc writes. "Today, there are signs it's being reborn." I encourage you to read the whole article ("Red Oklahoma").


Anger grows over union effort to sabotage Oklahoma teachers strike

The World Socialist Web Site has the story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Students assigned to lobby legislators?


The generally fawning coverage of the Oklahoma teacher strike often fails to address some questionable practices, including apparent attempts by some teachers to dictate opinions to students.

The mother of a Mustang High School student told OCPA that her son’s class, instructed by the high school soccer coach, was given a graded assignment to write letters to legislators supporting the strike.

After asking that her son not be identified by name in fear of possible retaliation, she forwarded a photo of the assignment written on the classroom board calling on students to pen letters demanding more school funding or addressing “competitive education” issues, including teachers leaving Oklahoma for higher pay and the use of teachers granted emergency certification.

Students were apparently not given any other opinions to explore.

“It’s fine to give an assignment to write to a legislator, but not to tell them what to say,” the mother said. She said the teacher gave the class the assignment and immediately left to join the strike.

A call last week seeking comment from Mustang superintendent Sean McDaniel was not returned. A call today yielded a recording that school is closed.

Teacher rebellion continues

'Far less than half of our students are prepared'

Oklahoma Achieves issued the following statement regarding today's 2017 NAEP score release.
Oklahoma Achieves is disappointed, though not surprised, by Oklahoma’s static performance on the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) as reported today. While Oklahomans determine the values and standards that guide our public education system, it is important that we know where our students stand with respect to their peers across the country. Educators, policymakers, and experts across the spectrum agree that the NAEP is the gold standard when it comes to assessing whether students are prepared for college and career opportunities.
Today’s scores reveal that far too many of our students are still not on track to meet the challenges ahead. Oklahoma students, like much of the country, saw no statistical difference in scores for 4th grade math and 8th grade reading and math. However, especially troubling is a four-point drop in our 4th grade reading scores. We must continue to strengthen Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act to ensure students are getting remediation prior to third grade, when it becomes much harder for students to catch up.

We know there is much more to be done to make sure every student graduates on a path to their dream job and these scores reinforce that we must think differently about how we educate our students in the 21st century. Simply put, far less than half of our students are prepared with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the jobs and educational opportunities of tomorrow, and the long-term trend is disturbing.

Oklahoma Achieves calls for greater urgency and action, and we implore policymakers to raise their expectations even further. States like Florida, that saw increases in their scores, have wholeheartedly embraced innovation and reform. We urge lawmakers to pass legislation this session that provides school district fiscal transparency, as well as offering teachers a career ladder for professional advancement. As our state looks ahead, future reforms to the system should focus on personalized learning and offering more choice to suit a student’s specific learning needs. Our state can no longer rely on the one-size-fits-all model we operate under today [emphasis added].

While much attention recently has been rightly focused on ensuring that we can attract, retain, and reward the best educators, we must also recognize that our public education system must change to provide the educational opportunities our students need and deserve. This is why it is critical that students return to the classroom as soon as possible so they don’t fall even further behind.

Business leaders with Oklahoma Achieves believe that the core principles of accountability, transparency, return on investment, choice and innovation, and a relentless focus on students provides the roadmap for much-needed change to our system. Today’s scores show that Oklahoma’s education system is not adequately preparing students for the future. We have much more work to do.

Teacher revolt is spreading


Monday, April 9, 2018

Cockroft disappoints on ed freedom, taxes

State Rep. Josh Cockroft (R-Wanette) seems like an upstanding young man with a wonderful family. But it’s been disappointing to watch his political trajectory over the years. In my experience, it's not uncommon for politicians to campaign as conservatives but then to veer leftward once they get under the dome—"growing in office" and earning "strange new respect" from tax consumers and liberal journalists. (With any luck, after 12 years some of these ex-pols land cushy jobs in the higher education bureaucracy.)

When he was first trying to get elected, candidate Cockroft made a written promise to the taxpayers in his district that he would "oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes." Eight years later, we find incumbent Cockroft voting for many efforts to increase taxes—including what appears to be the largest tax increase in Oklahoma history—and then boasting about it. He also voted to weaken SQ 640.

The American Conservative Union rates legislators each year. In 2017, Rep. Cockroft earned a rating of 47 percent. That’s an “F.” Rep. Cockroft professes conservatism, and I don't doubt his sincerity. But as one old sage put it, “Don’t read their lips. Read their budgets.” Cockroft’s lifetime ACU average is now 66 percent.

Equally troubling is his departure from principle when it comes to securing parental rights in education. The national GOP and Oklahoma GOP platforms endorse educational choice, of course, and Oklahoma has a successful tax-credit scholarship program which is helping hearing-impaired children, homeless students, teenage students battling addiction, rural students who want a faith-based education, bullied children, autistic students, and many more. And according to economists at Oklahoma City University, the program is saving the state money. Inexplicably, Rep. Cockroft this session voted against expanding the program to help even more children. And, far from being ashamed of his vote, he actually liked and retweeted the praise he received for it. 

Many politicians would never send their own children to a public school where they weren’t taught to read or do math. Or where the children are bullied or sexually harassed. Or where the teachers don't show up for work. But by continuing to favor the tax-financed monopoly school system, these politicians continue to make alternatives unaffordable for many of their constituents.

Federal government funds nearly a third of OSDE salary expenditures

"A review of who is paying state education agency (SEA) salaries suggests that many employees within these bureaucracies have competing priorities," Jonathan Butcher writes, "and may have to spend more time meeting federal requirements than serving the students in their states."

Oklahoma teacher has sex with student during walkout

"A Clinton Public Schools teacher reportedly confessed to having sex with a student several times, including during the ongoing teacher walkout, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation," The Oklahoman reports. The teacher had taken a group of students, including the 15-year-old rape victim, to the walkout at the state Capitol last week.

I'm gonna go with "wildly inappropriate."

'Teachers rebellion maps our path to power'

Fascinating article from People's World, a publication associated with the Communist Party USA:


Oklahoma teacher tells socialist website: 'I'm an activist now'

"This is my job now," one Oklahoma teacher tells SocialistWorker.org. "I didn't know it was my job, but I'm an activist now." She says she thinks her school will be out for the rest of the school year.

Oklahoma teachers discuss broadening strike

Oklahoma workers at a critical crossroads

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Striking Oklahoma teachers 'intoxicated by their own demands'

AEI's Rick Hess and Grant Addison have a terrific piece ("Oklahoma’s striking teachers are intoxicated by their own demands") today in The Hill. Excerpts:
On Thursday, March 29 the Oklahoma legislature enacted a new teacher-pay scale that boosted average teacher pay by $6,100—or 16 percent. This represented a remarkable win for teachers: In 2016, Oklahoma’s average teacher salary of $45,276 ranked 49th nationally, according to the National Education Association (NEA). The raise was funded via new taxes on gas, tobacco, and oil production, along with a new limit on income-tax deductions.

Yet, teachers were not placated—and on Monday, April 2, they started the walkout. The next day, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a $2.9 billion appropriations bill for education funding in fiscal year 2019—a 19.7 percent boost in spending over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The legislation includes $353.5 million for teacher pay (funding the $6,100 average raise); $52 million for support personnel pay; $50 million for textbooks and general state aid; and $24.7 million for health-care benefits. Fallin signed additional legislation providing a $1,250 annual pay bump for school-support personnel and tiered raises for state employees ranging from $750 to $2,000.

Still, the walkout continues, with teachers seeking additional concessions. Their stance has garnered widespread support and glowing media coverage. And while the sympathy is easy to understand, it should be noted that, after the 16 percent boost, average teacher pay in Oklahoma will next year exceed the state’s median household income of $50,943.

Indeed, the new average teacher salary of $51,376 will vault Oklahoma into the very middle (29th) of NEA’s teacher-salary rankings, with Texas the only bordering state with higher average salary—by about one percent. Add the fact that Oklahoma boasts the third lowest cost of living in the U.S, and it’s fair to say that Oklahoma’s teachers will now be reasonably well-compensated relative to their peers across the country.

It’s also worth noting that base salary doesn’t take into account health-care, retirement, and other benefits, which amount to about 24 percent of Oklahoma teachers’ total compensation, according to federal data. As former Obama administration appointee Chad Aldeman has documented, teachers have the highest retirement costs of almost any public-sector profession—and that public sector employees generally enjoy health and retirement benefits that dwarf those of their private sector counterparts.

Of course, Oklahoma does spend less per-pupil than other states: The NEA reports per-pupil spending in Oklahoma was $9,036 for the 2016-17 school year, down from $9,056 in 2008-9 (all in inflation-adjusted dollars). This is less than other states spend, though it still amounts to more than $225,000 a year for a class of 25 children. While more dollars can only help, that amount would seem to go farther than it has, if spent wisely and well.

After all, between 1992 and 2014, inflation-adjusted per-student spending in Oklahoma increased by 26 percent, even as average teacher salaries rose only 4 percent. If teacher pay had merely kept up with per-pupil spending, average teacher salaries would be more than $56,000 today—even before the bump contained in the new legislation. Meanwhile, as public-school student enrollment in Oklahoma increased by 17 percent from 1992 to 2015, teacher-workforce growth lagged behind—but non-teaching staff increased by 23 percent.

The same district leaders who have added outsized numbers of non-teaching staff and failed to rein in benefit costs are now finding it convenient to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their teachers in pursuit of additional funds. Rather than seeking to force teachers back to work, superintendents have closed their schools and cheered them on—protecting teachers from the need to officially break the law or even sacrifice personal days. At least 50 school districts have been closed across the state, including those in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the state’s two largest districts. The consequences of this for children and working parents are severe, even if they’ve drawn little attention amidst a narrative focused on the heartwarming story of middle-class earners winning an overdue raise.

“There are broader implications going forward for any more days canceled,” said Oklahoma City Public Schools spokeswoman Beth Harrison, “because it starts to impact instructional time, which starts to impact families.” After five days, the walkout has consumed most of the six extra days built into the calendar to account for emergencies like weather-related closings, with many school systems now looking at adding additional minutes to the school day or pushing back the last day of the year to make up for lost time.

Meanwhile, as veteran teacher-union reporter Mike Antonnuci has observed, as was the case in West Virginia, “no one is losing pay for going on strike.” Following the wholesale triumph of West Virginia’s teachers in their recent strike, which was likewise accompanied by widespread support and adoring press, superintendents see which way the wind is blowing. Doubtless, school leaders in Kentucky, Arizona, and other states at-risk for teacher strikes are also taking notice.

There’s an important conversation to be had about teacher pay, benefit costs, and how to attract and honor terrific teachers—and pay fairly professionals who put in a solid day’s work. And, like many, we think the gains that Oklahoma’s teachers have now won are reasonable and appropriate.

But it appears that, even more than in the case of West Virginia—where teachers returned to work with a comparatively Spartan 5 percent pay bump—Oklahoma’s walkout is quickly becoming detached from efforts to ensure that dollars are spent responsibly. When teachers who have already claimed a massive win are shuttering schools over demands for retiree cost-of-living-adjustments and the need to “staff-up” other state agencies, it seems farfetched to say that student concerns are still front and center.

Oklahoma education workers defy and push forward

The publication Workers World (motto: "Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World Unite") is now covering the Oklahoma teacher strike. "This burgeoning struggle against austerity cuts and for meeting people’s needs shows signs of continuing to expand in the days and weeks ahead—with teachers and school workers in the lead," Workers World reports today.

Oklahoma teacher strike continues

"The right to high-quality public education is pitting teachers against the entire political establishment and the two big-business parties, which defend the wealth and power of the ruling class," the World Socialist Web Site reports today.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Report shows 4 of 10 Oklahoma students need remediation in college

"Forty percent of Oklahoma's public high school graduates are not prepared for college-level work in at least one subject area when they arrive on campus," The Oklahoman reports today.
Of the 17,557 students who graduated in 2016 and entered an Oklahoma public college or university that fall, 7,119 enrolled in at least one remedial course. The number increased 1.5 percent from the previous year, according to the report to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
To see a complete list of remediation rates by high school site, click here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

$476 in union dues

Mike Antonucci has a new post showing the state dues levels for every NEA state affiliate for 2017-18. 

Oklahoma Education Association dues are $287, he reports, plus $189 for the NEA national dues. As for local affiliates, "there are roughly 13,000 local affiliates and their dues vary so widely—from zero to a lot—it’s impossible to gather them all."

Not surprisingly, many Oklahoma teachers cite cost as their reason for leaving the OEA.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Oklahoma’s cost-of-living-adjusted teacher pay now 11th in the nation

Thanks to the newly enacted teacher pay raise, Oklahoma's teacher pay now ranks an impressive 11th in the nation after adjusting for cost of living. This according to economist Byron Schlomach, director of the 1889 Institute. "An additional $3,900 raise, which teachers are demanding for a total of $10,000, would see Oklahoma’s cost-of-living-adjusted pay rise to fourth among the states," writes Dr. Schlomach, who is also a scholar-in-residence at the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise at Oklahoma State University, an institute chartered by President Burns Hargis and the board of regents in 2015.

Dr. Schlomach's table is based on the NEA’s average salary figures for 2016 and the 2017 cost of living index calculated by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. He says the ranking "does not account for changes in other states’ averages such as the recent increase in West Virginia."

Bernie Bros are on board

Monday, April 2, 2018

Socialist website calls for solidarity

"Everyone who wants to see education justice and a revived working class movement needs to support the Oklahoma teachers and public workers," Elizabeth Lalasz writes for SocialistWorker.org.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Teachers react with ‘disgust and anger’ over largest teacher pay raise in state history

"Oklahoma teachers have reacted with disgust and anger over the pay offer and the school-funding bill signed into law by Republican Governor Mary Fallin Thursday afternoon," the World Socialist Web Site reports.

Oklahoma 7-year-old bullied for cleft lip, rare eye condition

Happily, the boy found a new friend.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Many teachers still plan to strike


Even after passage of the largest teacher pay raise in state history, many Oklahoma teachers still plan to strike on Monday, according to People's World, a publication associated with the Communist Party USA.
The Oklahoma Education Association, the union representing nearly 40,000 teachers and school personnel, said the bill’s passage marked “a truly historic moment,” but called it “incomplete.” OEA president Alicia Priest said it was “a good first step,” but signaled that it won’t be enough to avert a strike.

The public school system is crawling with sex predators

But nobody cares, Matt Walsh writes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lawsuit: Oklahoma student’s sexual assault ignored by school

"A federal lawsuit alleges that a now 14-year-old Oklahoma middle school student was sexually assaulted and threatened by classmates over 18 months and school officials did nothing to stop the attacks," the Associated Press reports.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Tulsa World columnist spotlights sexualized hazing in high-school athletics

Very interesting column by Guerin Emig here.

Arming schoolteachers?

"That idiotic notion is close to becoming law in at least three states," Jonita Davis writes for People's World, a publication associated with the Communist Party USA ("Armed teachers: A threat to Black children everywhere").
Florida, Oklahoma, and South Dakota are in the process of approving legislation that explicitly arms teachers or makes it easier for teachers to carry concealed weapons into the classroom. This is being done despite the protests—sit-ins, walk-outs, marches, and petitions—spearheaded by school kids all over the country.

$56K is not bad for Adair County

Public school teacher Teresa Turner lives in Adair County and teaches in Tahlequah. She sends along this photo. "Almost $56,000 a year with benefits is very good pay for Oklahoma and especially for Congressional District 2 and Adair County," she says.

Stillwater teacher tells socialists a teacher strike is ‘the right thing to do’

Stillwater Junior High history teacher Alberto Morejon recently told members of the Socialist Workers Party that a teacher strike "is the right thing to do," Alyson Kennedy reports.

Momentum grows for April 2 teacher walkout

The World Socialist Web Site has the story.

Is Chickasha cheating?

"Nationwide, there have been many high-profile instances where school officials changed grades to mask failure, obtain federal funding, or avoid greater oversight," the state's largest newspaper editorialized today.
Chickasha Public Schools in Oklahoma may be joining that list. The state Department of Education has asked officials with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to assist in an investigation of alleged misconduct including fraud and tampering with student grade and attendance records at Chickasha. Department officials found “unexpectedly high levels of district personnel logins and grade changes” within the online Self-Paced Learning Center (SPLC) system used at the district. Between October 2017 and January 2018, approximately 5,500 student course grades and 18,800 individual assignment grades were overridden. According to state records, there are only around 2,500 students in the district. It's bad enough when adults behave badly, but far worse when adults potentially sacrifice the education of children in the process.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

‘Teachers are ready to revolt’

"In Oklahoma, residents have grown tired of waiting for lawmakers to fix the problem," Negin Owliaei reports for People's World, a publication associated with the Communist Party USA ("Teachers deserve a raise. Here’s how to fund it.").
They’re pushing for a ballot measure to raise the funds for teachers’ raises with a modest gross production tax on oil and gas. 
So what do ordinary Americans expect from their states? Fully funded schools, or blind allegiance to big energy corporations?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hope for bullied kids

A new law in Florida provides school choice for victims of bullying and harassment. Oklahoma should follow suit, Jonathan Small writes in The Journal Record.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Glenpool High School student arrested, another injured during dispute over walkout

"A Glenpool High School student was taken into custody after he reportedly assaulted another student in a dispute over the national student walkout," the Tulsa World reports. The beating was so severe that the victim required surgery.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Oklahoma teacher decries inequity, racism

And at SocialistWorker.org, no less. In related news, the World Socialist Web Site reports that "teachers in Oklahoma are angry."

David Holt, school choice, and diversity

State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) discusses charter school legislation at meeting of the Oklahoma School Choice Coalition on September 3, 2015.

State Sen. David Holt has been elected mayor of Oklahoma City and will be sworn in on April 10. "I want to be part of creating a strategic vision for the future of public education in our city," he says. "And then I’m going to be working every day to incorporate the diversity of our city into decision-making."

Though he's an enthusiastic public-school booster, Holt has also been good on many school choice issues. He mainly supports some forms of public-school choice (charter schools and parent trigger, for example), though he also voted last year to expand Oklahoma's private-school voucher program and tax-credit scholarship program.

On the other hand, he was not at all helpful when it came to trying to provide education savings accounts (ESAs) to low-income students in some of our state's worst schools. During last year's legislative session, Mary Mélon, president of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, sent an email to several public school supporters, including Sen. Holt, warning that an ESA bill which was being heard the next morning would have "dire consequences for OKCPS." (How's that for confidence in one's own product? Any sane person would flee if given the opportunity!)

Less than an hour later, Holt replied with the assurance that he planned to introduce two amendments in committee which would, shall we say, markedly dampen the bill's prospects.

Disappointingly, the bill's author had to pull the ESA bill when it became clear that, for a variety of reasons, he wasn't going to have the necessary votes for passage.

"In shelving a modest school choice bill because some Republicans capitulated to education establishment lobbyists, the Republican majority undermined their campaign vows to advance conservative policy and ignored the needs of some of Oklahoma's neediest children," The Oklahoman rightly noted. "Sadly, too many legislative Republicans preferred the 'absence of tension' with status-quo forces to aiding poor families and creating a better future for all Oklahomans."

One hopes that, as mayor, Holt's views will evolve and he'll come to see the importance of casting a strategic vision for the future of education—not just government-operated schools—in Oklahoma City. After all, he knows better than most that many young families will never even consider living in the Oklahoma City school district, at least not while the charter school waiting lists are so long. But give them, say, a $5,000-per-child voucher or ESA and suddenly the calculus changes considerably. As real estate professor Bart Danielsen and former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys pointed out in The Oklahoman and in remarks at a meeting of the Oklahoma School Choice Coalition, educational choice policies can alter family-relocation patterns, revitalize cities, increase property values, and more.

Speaking of Kirk Humphreys, you're doubtless familiar with the cultural left's recent defenestration of Humphreys from the University of Oklahoma board of regents. Happily, however, despite the intolerance and discrimination shown by some citizens, Humphreys was able to retain his position on the board of the John Rex Charter Elementary School—even though Sen. Holt doesn't think the former mayor is fit to serve. Holt said:
I do not agree with Kirk Humphreys’ views on this matter and after making his views public, I don’t believe he can credibly serve in a public education leadership role.
Hmmm. The former mayor of Oklahoma City, "an evangelical Christian who simply articulated the view that has been traditionally embraced for 2,000 years by Christians of virtually all branches," cannot credibly serve on the board of a charter school? Really?

This understandably provoked some questions. Local pastor (and Humphreys' son-in-law) Jonathan Middlebrooks engaged Sen. Holt on Twitter:
  • Your quote is being used by the group opposing Kirk Humphreys' position on the John Rex board. You say "do not agree with Kirk Humphreys’ views on this matter." Does this mean the views he clarified in his apology and press release?
  • Do you agree that according to the group petitioning for his removal that “his fundamental beliefs disqualify him from public leadership”? Those beliefs being Christian beliefs?
  • Do you believe that citizens with deeply held religious beliefs like Muslims, Orthodox Jews, or Christians cannot serve public offices or should be blocked from doing so due to those beliefs?
  • Are Christians and other religious groups right to expect a Mayoral candidate to protect their freedoms alongside all other citizens? To say someone “cannot credibly serve in a public education role” due to his religious beliefs seems dangerous.
  • As a citizen in OKC, a local pastor, and community leader I believe these are important questions that we deserve to have answered. I appreciate any response here or would love to meet in person.
Sen. Holt replied:
  • My comment speaks for itself and I don’t see it having any relation to your follow-up questions. I am a Christian. All people are welcome in my OKC. You are welcome to send me an email if you’d like to visit further. Davidholt@gmail.com
  • Also, I am not involved in this issue in any way. I responded to a question and stated my personal opinion, and I suppose people are free to quote me, but if you are passionate about this issue I would encourage you to lobby those involved in it. I am not.
Sen. Holt says he's "not involved in this issue in any way," but that's incorrect. He's a public official who said publicly that he doesn't believe Humphreys can credibly serve—and his words are being used by those who wanted to oust Humphreys. So, he's involved.

Sen. Holt says that “all people are welcome in my OKC.” That’s disingenuous to the point of being insulting. Humphreys is not saying—indeed, no reasonable person is saying—that those who practice homosexuality are not welcome in the city.

Moreover, Sen. Holt's comment does not “speak for itself.” On the contrary, his vaguely worded comment—regarding Humphreys’ views “on this matter”—veritably cries out for the sorts of astute, respectful follow-up questions which were asked and which deserve an answer.

John Rex is a successful charter school, and with any luck OKCPS will convert to a charter district early in Holt's tenure as mayor. But as the new mayor seeks "to incorporate the diversity of our city into decision-making," citizens need to know if that diversity includes Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Christians, and others who hold traditional religious views on sexual morality. Because if the mayor or other leaders evince an intolerance that deems certain citizens unfit to serve, that's a problem far more serious than any disagreement over education policy.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Prostitution ring targets Edmond high school girls

"Oklahoma City police need your help tracking down two people in connection with a prostitution ring that recruited young girls from Edmond high schools," Phil Cross reports for KOKH.
Germaine Coulter is facing new criminal charges of human trafficking, pandering, and conspiracy. Coulter has a criminal history dating back more than 20 years that includes violent crimes, drugs, and prostitution-related crimes. ... In the latest criminal case, investigators say Coulter had at least two Edmond high school students working for him as prostitutes. The court record indicates he was actively recruiting teenagers from Edmond for his prostitution business using the promise of money and potentially drugs.

After-school activities canceled at U.S. Grant High School after gun found in backpack

KOCO has the story.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Many stay-at-home parents like the four-day school week

Bridge Creek teacher Jalaine Watham is a fan of the four-day school week, CBS News' Omar Villafranca reports.
"It has allowed that weekend time with my family, but I also really truly feel like it has made me a better teacher by being purposeful and looking at time management," Watham said.

Two-hundred and ten of the state's schools operate on a four-day schedule. Many stay-at-home parents we spoke to in this community endorsed the shortened week. "It's that extra day. You're like, I feel like I have a whole entire day with my kid," said one parent.

But state superintendent of instruction, Joy Hofmeister, worries about the long-term impact on students.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

No neutrality in education

Aaron Baker is an 8th-grade history teacher in the Mid-Del school district who promotes “radical social justice in Oklahoma public schools.” We disagree about most things, but in a recent blog post he was right on target with these observations:
Middle school is a highly impressionable stage of adolescence. It really isn’t a question of “if” middle school students are being indoctrinated, but “what” they are being indoctrinated into [emphasis in original]. A big part of middle school education is to start them on the road to thinking critically. But most 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are not there yet. Middle school students, more often than they themselves realize, still take most “truths” at face value. They are receiving moral and ethical cues from everyone around them; family members, teachers, youth pastors, and peers. Teachers can and should play a valuable role in shaping a student’s worldview. … 
No curriculum is truly objective, but math at least leans toward objectivity. Social studies, on the other hand, leans heavy toward subjectivity. Even in the presentation of “hard facts,” social studies teachers have to make subjective decisions about tone, choice of words, and body language. In addition, the overwhelming amount of information requires that social studies teachers constantly omit certain facts. This is invariably a subjective decision.

‘Teachers in Oklahoma are angry’

The World Socialist Web Site has the story.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Survey finds bullying is widespread

"The vast majority of 9-, 10-, and 11-year-olds report having experienced bullying in some manner, whether as a witness, a perpetrator, a victim, or someone who has tried to help," according to a nationally representative survey conducted in September 2017.
Three out of four kids (77%) say they have witnessed bullying, including 27% who say they’ve done so “many times.” Sixty-four percent of children report having tried to help a kid who was being bullied, including 17% who say they’ve done so “many times.” Nearly two out of three (62%) kids say they’ve “ever” been bullied, including 14% who say it’s happened “many times.” And one in five kids (21%) say they’ve ever bullied other kids, although only 2% say they’ve done so “many times.”

Should schools be required to tell parents about bullying?

Heartbreaking article over at KRMG.

Tulsa teacher: ‘If my daughters were going to school in a place with pimps running around it, I would want to know’

An interesting story in the Tulsa World this weekend ("Tulsa Public Schools loses 35 percent of its teachers in two years, but many aren't leaving for higher pay") includes a quote from "an East Central High School teacher who said he threw in the towel two years before he had originally planned because of a lack of support with student discipline issues."
“Schools get paid based on butts in seats, so administrators are loath to suspend students because that funding is lacking for that time period,” said Mike McGuire, who served 20 years as East Central’s U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor after retiring from his first career in the Army.

McGuire said recent news coverage of teacher, student and parent discontent at Edison Preparatory School sounded just like his last three or four years on the job at East Central. He estimated nearly 100 percent of the faculty exited the district or found placements elsewhere in TPS during that period because nothing improved after district officials surveyed and held private meetings with teachers.

“War was declared on the faculty,” McGuire said. “It didn’t matter how much they’d misbehave, cut class and curse teachers out, the students seemed to be the good guys and the faculty were the bad guys. And other students and their parents are concerned about the lack of discipline.”

McGuire said his tipping point was being formally reprimanded for how he responded to students concerned about two of their classmates being allowed to return to school after 10 days in jail on human trafficking complaints.

“I told my students, especially the girls, ‘If you’re concerned, you need to tell your parents so they can express their concern to their school board representative,’ ” McGuire said. “If my daughters were going to school in a place with pimps running around it, I would want to know.”

Tulsa teachers try to keep focus, encourage students, after recent school threats

The Tulsa World has the story.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sources: Another Bixby student reports sexual assault

The News on 6 has the story.

Three Oklahoma middle school students in custody after threat

The Seattle Times has the AP report here.

Former Kingston teacher charged with raping students

"According to court documents, Tasha McCuan, a former Kingston Public Schools teacher, was charged with three counts of rape in the second degree," KXII reports. "Officials said McCuan was a first grade teacher at Kingston Public Schools. ...
McCuan's arrest comes as a Tishomingo teacher and cheer coach, Shelley Jo Duncan, awaits trial. Charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student in 2016. These Kingston residents said sadly, they're not surprised.

"It's kind of a thing here in southern Oklahoma," one Kingston local said. "It's been going on for awhile."

Obama’s lax discipline policies made schools dangerous

"Since President Barack Obama pressured educators to adopt a new code of conduct making it harder to suspend or expel students of color, even kids who punch out their teacher aren’t automatically kicked out of school anymore," Paul Sperry writes in the New York Post.
Previously, “If you hit a teacher, you’re gone,” said Peter Kirsanow, a black conservative on the US Commission on Civil Rights. But that’s no longer the case, he says, thanks to race-based discipline quotas sweeping the nation’s schools. ...

In Oklahoma City, which softened student punishments in response to a federal bias complaint, “Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers, and nothing is being done,” an Oklahoma City public-school teacher said. “These students know there is nothing a teacher can do."

Friday, March 2, 2018

After bad experiences with bullying, mom grateful for scholarship


"After several years of bad experiences with bullying and discipline issues in other schools, we found the Opportunity Scholarship Fund (OSF) and learned about the scholarships for low-income families," says Danielle, a mom whose children are now able to attend Oklahoma Christian School (OCS) in Edmond. "If it wasn't for the OSF scholarship, our children would not be able to attend OCS. This scholarship has impacted our family tremendously, and we are truly thankful for all the donors who understand the importance of education."

Tulsa Union mom speaks out after intoxicated man goes into school

KFOR has the story.

Oklahoma police show how textbooks can stop bullets

"Panama Public Schools Superintendent Grant Ralls told 40/29 News the school district is reviewing all options to keep kids safe, including possibly arming some teachers," an Arkansas television station reports. Also, "the Panama Police Department has been researching if books can stop bullets."

11-year-old arrested after pulling knife on elementary school students

NewsOK.com has the story.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Four former football players charged in Bixby High School rape investigation

The Tulsa World has the story.

A mother’s hope

As state lawmakers are considering whether to raise the cap on Oklahoma's successful tax-credit scholarship program, I wanted to pass along (with permission) this heartwarming letter from one mom who is urging lawmakers to vote yes. She writes:
I am writing in support of the tax credit scholarship program and urge you to support increasing the cap on the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act to provide the opportunity for private donors to create more scholarships for lower-income families. Please VOTE YES on SB 1384. 
And here is why... My daughter Hope was diagnosed with partial Trisomy 13 shortly after birth, she was a micro premie and she suffered weak lungs as an infant. She has vision and hearing loss as well as a VP shunt. I stayed home with her as long as I could, but I needed to return to work and needed to find the best place to care for and educate her. We had no idea what kind of communication Hope would be capable of. We found all of our answers through Happy Hands Education Center, but without our OSF scholarship, we could not afford to attend this school. My family has benefited so much from this scholarship. More families need this scholarship opportunity. Please vote yes!

Attached are pictures of Hope. She is now 5 years old and doing more than we could have ever imagined. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Valarie Cannon

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Army mom grateful for scholarship

Jessica is a single mom in Lawton serving in the U.S. Army. She is grateful for an OSF scholarship:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Socialists decry Oklahoma education cuts

"Oklahoma’s rich have engorged themselves," the World Socialist Web Site reports, and education funding has suffered.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Handgun found on Muskogee junior-high student

The News on 6 has the story.

How dependent do we want Oklahoma’s public schools to be on smoking?

Agenda journalism is not helpful to readers, my colleague Trent England points out—and it’s boring to boot.

Public schools incubate mental instability

"The correlation between public school environments and the deteriorating mental health of children has been intensifying for decades," Stella Morabito writes.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Oklahoma GOP lives up to ‘let them eat cake’ stereotype


"Critics often caricature Republicans as greedy and heartless, with little compassion for struggling citizens," The Oklahoman editorialized today. "The state Senate Education Committee did little to undermine that stereotype when it killed legislation benefiting children who are homeless or suffering from mental illness."
According to legend, upon hearing poor people had no bread to eat, Marie Antoinette responded, “Let them eat cake.” For Republican senators to embrace this attitude toward the plight of homeless and mentally ill children is fiscally irresponsible and morally offensive.
Voting in favor of the bill were state senators Brecheen, Ikley-Freeman, Scott, Stanislawski, Sykes, and Thompson. Voting no were state senators Allen, Bergstrom, Dossett, Dugger, Fields, Pemberton, Sharp, and Smalley.

Oklahoma homeschool growth continues

"Paul Rose with the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Association says homeschooling continues to grow in our state by about 10 percent every year," KTUL reports.

Tulsa parent concerned after getting no response to school threat report

FOX 23 has the story.

OKC teacher accused of Irish Mob ties

"An Oklahoma City teacher has been arrested, accused of having ties to the Irish Mob," KSWO reports. "She was arrested at Northeast Academy this week. Police and ATF agents found at least three guns in Leva Drummond's home. In 2016 she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of bringing contraband to an inmate at the Tulsa County Jail."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hospital exec touts Cristo Rey, Good Shepherd

"Over the years, I’ve seen how teamwork between different organizations has led to meaningful programs for our community," writes Di Smalley, regional president of Mercy in Oklahoma.
One recent example involves the Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School, which opens this fall. The school offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and a unique work-study program to students with limited economic means. As part of the program, students work one day a week in a business setting and receive a salary that pays most of their tuition. Several businesses have already signed on to participate in this transformative new program. ...
Another example was the creation of the Good Shepherd Catholic School at Mercy in fall 2011. Mercy partnered with the University of Central Oklahoma and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to open the school, which teaches children with autism or similar neurological disorders beginning at age 2. The accredited program helps nearly 50 children each year become more independent academically and behaviorally so they can transition to a traditional school setting.

Since the school opened, numerous students have spoken for the first time and 21 children have moved on to traditional schools. After three years in the program, one student went from non-verbal to speaking in complete sentences, reading simple books and working on early addition. He has made a few friends and will likely transition to a traditional school within 24 months.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Oklahoma English teacher has had it with standard English and other systemic oppression


Jennifer Williams is an AP English teacher in Oklahoma who believes that “Whites are sucking the life from America, denying our country any possible chance at greatness.” So I suppose it comes as no surprise that she would rethink the literary canon:
I’m done with the dead, White guys … I will no longer center them in all their precious White, cishet maleness. 
Why am I done? Because I refuse to continue being part of the problem. What problem? The problem of perpetuating systemic oppression and discrimination in our society—through our educational system. ... 
I used to be one of those people and teachers who…wanted my students to speak “proper” English. That was the first thing I let go.
Sorry, Bill. This AP English teacher will no longer be a “guardian of the gate of standard English” because doing so “perpetuates Whiteness and what is ‘acceptable’ English. ... Why force our students into the mold of Whiteness and White speech?”

America’s Founding Fathers built many problems “into the foundation of our society,” Williams says, but she is choosing to be a part of the solution. “I hope you’ll join me on this journey. If not, you may need to rethink teaching.”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Four-day school week? ‘People seem to like it’

"Once a district goes to a four-day school week in Oklahoma, it’s tough to go back," the Tulsa World reports. "People seem to like it too much."

Parents withdraw son from Owasso school after death threats

"We’re going to take every opportunity that he can get to enjoy life, to enjoy his education from now on," the 12-year-old boy's father said after withdrawing his son from an Owasso elementary school.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fun teacher-pay facts

If Oklahoma enacted a $5,000 teacher pay raise, it would move us from 30th to 15th in average cost-of-living-adjusted teacher pay by state. Economist Byron Schlomach has other interesting information here.

A money-saving ESA proposal

"Many legislators and the governor have expressed concern over a gap between tax revenues and government spending," Byron Schlomach and Vance H. Fried write. "One way to cut this gap is to create a low payout ESA program. Low payout ESAs are a way to reduce government spending by letting parents volunteer to accept a reduced level of support from the state in order to provide what they consider a better education for their children."

Woodward school bus driver broke safety policy

The Woodward News has the story.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Edison school officials send emails to parents after recent incidents

"Edison Preparatory School officials have sent emails to parents after several recent incidents involving students and teachers at the school," KJRH reports. "The recent incidents include an Edison student being arrested on an accusation of rape last week, a teacher being accused of sexual misconduct with students, and a teacher resigning after throwing a tantrum in class."

Putnam City student arrested after allegedly bringing gun to school

KFOR has the story.

Tulsa mother speaks out after she says son was punched by teacher

The News on 6 has the story.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

No, public schools don’t take all comers

"The Oklahoma State Department of Education and the schools it serves spend up to $2 million annually—as much as $200,000 per student—to send selected students with profound disabilities to private residential schools in other states," Mike Brake reports.

When students assault teachers, the effects can be lasting

Education Week has the story.

Relax school regulations


"In Oklahoma and across the nation, we’ve been trying to improve education by tightening regulations on schools," Greg Forster writes. "The 1889 Institute recently published a database of mandates that Oklahoma public schools have to follow, and it’s a mind-boggling experience. The irony is that better educational results actually come from giving more freedom and responsibility to schools, principals, and parents—which means relaxing central control."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

For structural pluralism in education

"We need not pine for an era when a generic, superficial Protestantism was taken for granted by most Americans," writes Boston University professor emeritus Charles Glenn ("Can We Stop Fighting Over Schools?").
In the contemporary American scene, despite the cultural hegemony of an intolerant secularism, the social elements for constructing vigorous alternative institutions and communities are by no means lacking. Indeed, they have been stimulated by the collapse of the post-war “Judeo-Christian” cultural dominance. The challenge is to give principled policy support to this rich pluralism of convictions.
Here we could usefully look to the example of the Netherlands. In the nineteenth century, Dutch society was roiled by decades-long conflicts over schools. Protestants and Catholics vigorously resisted the efforts of liberal elites to impose a common set of beliefs through the schools operated by local government. The solution that brought a permanent “pacification” to these conflicts was the adoption of structural pluralism in education (and in other sectors of social and cultural life) that permitted educators to provide schooling based on a variety of worldviews and gave parents the right to choose among those schools without financial penalty. Today, about 70 percent of Dutch children attend schools that are not operated by government. Academic outcomes are strong, and education is not a focal point of political conflict. ...
Most other nations with advanced levels of universal schooling provide public support to faith-based schools with no evident harm to their social fabric and with considerably less conflict over schooling than occurs in the United States. Surely the time has come for a similar American “pacification,” through adoption of principled pluralism as the fundamental and equitable structure of our education system.

‘The public school is not as American as apple pie’

Harvard professor Paul E. Peterson reminds us:
For the entire colonial period and well into the first decades of the nineteenth century, schooling was the responsibility of churches, private tutors, and fee-paid, itinerant schoolmasters like Washington Irving’s Ichabod Crane. The hodgepodge worked pretty well. In 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville reported to his French readers that the American people “appear to be the most enlightened community in the world.”

Oklahoma voters want ‘accountability’ in public education

A new poll commissioned by Oklahoma’s largest teachers union shows respondents "pouncing on 'accountability' as the most important value when 'thinking about the issue of public education here in Oklahoma,'" my colleague Trent England points out
This is unsurprising given the financial scandals and other accusations in the news over the past few years.
Every dollar stolen here was “education funding.” And there are many more mundane stories of school districts wasting resources by grandstanding against Trump Administration policies, building a million-dollar press box, and renaming schools against the will of school staff and families. Oklahoma taxpayers might also be nervous when they hear about districts avoiding open government laws.
Every scandal or instance of waste is a reminder that simply planting a flag that says “education” in a pile of money tells us nothing about whether that money is actually used to help kids learn.

It isn’t ‘fake,’ but education media coverage sure does show bias

Insightful piece by Frederick M. Hess and Brendan Bell.

Teen arrested after allegedly bringing gun to Bartlesville middle school

The Tulsa World has the story.

Monday, February 5, 2018

A misguided impulse to regulate homeschooling

Terrific editorial today in the state's largest newspaper. Key grafs:
In 2017, researcher Rodger Williams calculated and compared child fatality rates due to abuse or neglect in the general population and the homeschool population. Among other things, Williams drew his data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education. 
Williams calculated the “expected” fatality rate among homeschoolers if the rate within homeschooling was the same as in the general population. He found the expected number of fatalities among legally homeschooled students was 55, but the actual number was far lower—32. Put another way, legally homeschooled students were 40 percent less likely to die by child abuse or neglect than the average student nationally.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Tulsa, Jenks students face rape charges

News 9 has the story, and reports that the Jenks student is suspended for the rest of the school year "for groping several girls at school."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Oklahoma teacher says ‘sexual assault and harassment in schools is severely under-reported’

"[S]exual assault and harassment in schools is severely under-reported," says Aaron Baker, an 8th-grade teacher in the Mid-Del school district. "This is irrefutable."
Every day all across the United States, educators witness countless examples of female students being touched without consent. We have a culture problem in our schools. We have to start somewhere, and we have to start now!
Mr. Baker isn't the only Oklahoman on the political left who has noticed this. Back in 2014, Democrat state Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, a self-described feminist, observed:
Based on what I heard from my constituents, sexual harassment of girls in our public schools is close to being pro forma. ...Your daughter has a much better chance of growing up to be a strong, independent young woman if she can skip this abuse during her formative years.

Tulsa teacher investigated for sending inappropriate photos to students

"The Tulsa Police Department is investigating reports of a teacher sending inappropriate photos to multiple students at Edison Preparatory School," the News on 6 reports.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Owasso parents fed up with bullying

"One mother fears for her son's life, one year after he threatened to commit suicide because of bullying," KJRH reports. "'He was going to tie himself up to his bed and choke him until he died,'" she said.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Tulsa teachers pull ‘sick-out’ stunt


Teacher absenteeism hurts students.

And it’s very much a problem in Oklahoma: Chronic teacher absenteeism is an astounding 20 percent in Oklahoma’s public schools.

To make matters worse, some Tulsa public school teachers recently decided to ditch their students in order to make a political point. “Some teachers a few weeks ago decided to sick-out in unison, and it caused 50 teachers between Edison and Booker T. to be absent on the same day, making it very difficult for administrators to handle the class," says Larry Cagle, an English teacher at Tulsa Edison.

"Those students ended up having to sit in auditoriums with one person overseeing 3, 4, 5 classes at a time, which was the intended goal."

Other types of protests are planned, he says.

RELATED:
  • Oklahoma Watch wonders if a teacher strike is imminent in the state. If it is, and if it results in a $5,000 pay raise for teachers, economist Byron Schlomach says that would move Oklahoma to 15th in average cost-of-living-adjusted teacher pay. 
  • The group Oklahoma Teachers United reports that "Sand Springs High School joins the protest!!! 20 teachers out sick on one day. Fund our schools and pay our teachers. Hear us loud and clear, we are united and we will not back down."
  • KTUL reports that "public schools seem unwilling to acknowledge teacher protests."
  • KJRH reports that "on Friday, a handful of Kiefer High School students walked out of class. The reason was higher pay for teachers. 'Teachers really didn’t say anything, they just let them,' Kiefer High School freshman Bailey Capehart said. ... Just days ago in Tulsa, Edison Preparatory School students walked out of class after lawmakers didn’t pass a bill that would raise taxes and ultimately raise salaries."
  • The Tulsa World reports that teacher walkouts in Oklahoma public schools are under consideration.

Anadarko students arrested for gun, drugs

"A loaded gun turned up in an Anadarko Middle School bathroom Wednesday morning," News 9 reports
The school called police, who quickly arrested a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old boy.
Police Chief Tracy Roles says police found the gun in a backpack in the bathroom. Roles says the gun belonged to the 14-year-old. He says they also found what they believe was a small amount of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, which he says belonged to the 12-year-old. ...

Roles says a police lockdown that included two K-9’s also turned up a bag of marijuana that he says belonged to a 13-year-old girl.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Why do Oklahoma families choose virtual charter schools?

The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board (OSVCSB) recently commissioned a study on "why families choose to enroll in virtual charter schools, as well as the benefits and challenges associated with virtual charter school attendance." Read the whole thing here. One nugget:
Parents and guardians are drawn to virtual charter schools due partly to negative experiences in prior educational settings and partly to the unique opportunities available via virtual education. Related to negative experiences, the top selections by survey respondents included “Bullying or threats from classmates at other schools” (41% of respondents).

Longtime educator says sexual abuse of students ‘is obviously a problem that exists in Oklahoma’

State Sen. Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee), a public school educator for 38 years, has introduced legislation "that would mandate all Oklahoma teachers undergo annual training to keep their certificates," The Journal Record reports. "Senate Bill 899 would allow the State Department of Health to develop coursework informing teachers and other staffers about the potential penalties they could face if charged with crimes related to sexual abuse or exploitation."

According to Sen. Sharp, "This is obviously a problem that exists in Oklahoma and throughout the United States because it’s constantly in the news."

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Child abuse of public, private, and home schooled students

In a new memo, Brian D. Ray "reviews available empirical evidence related to abuse rates of public school, private school, and homeschool students by school personnel and by parents." He shows that "an estimated 10 percent (or more) of public and private schoolchildren experience sexual maltreatment at the hands of school personnel, and in addition, some schoolchildren are abused by their parents. The limited evidence available shows that homeschooled children are abused at a lower rate than are those in the general public, and no evidence shows that the home educated are at any higher risk of abuse."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

‘It was really disrespectful’

Some Southmoore students have been suspended for inappropriate videos, KFOR reports.

Piedmont teacher accused of excessive force

News 9 has the story.

School choice research is not a Rorschach test

"Folks who don’t like school choice can highlight this study or that that 'proves' school choice doesn’t work," EdChoice points out. "Folks who like school choice have done the reverse. Unfortunately, that’s not how science is supposed to work. We’ve got to look at all of the available empirical evidence and weigh it out."

Monday, January 22, 2018

Homeschooling and public-school bullying

Rod Dreher has an excellent post on homeschooling and bullying. I encourage you to read the whole thing. He quotes Alan Jacobs:
Spousal abuse is surely a greater blight on our society than child abuse by homeschoolers, so I make this proposal: In households of married people, annual checks by a state government employee, empowered to look for signs of abuse by one spouse of another, would seem to be a minimum required by a commonsense concern for the well-being of the adults involved. Sure, some pro-marriage lobbyists will object. But then they will find themselves in the awkward position of defending the right of men to beat their wives undetected.
In short, Jacobs writes, "When people who cry out for mass surveillance of homeschooling families articulate some strategy for addressing the far, far larger problem of bullying in schools—I’ll even allow them to ignore spousal abuse—then I’ll believe that they care about the children."

Don’t blame homeschooling for child abuse cases

"The fact that states haven’t yet deployed the National Guard into classrooms shows that no one treats public schools in the same way many treat homeschooling," G. Shane Morris points out. Cheryl Magness adds:
If state and local governments can’t protect the children in their own schools, the ones over whom they have been given custody for eight or more hours a day, what makes anyone think they can protect children in home schools or private schools that they are only going to inspect once a year? ... [W]e are supposed to believe that public employees who can’t keep children safe in government-run schools will somehow be able to do so if we give them greater oversight of private and home schools? I reject that argument.
Michelle Malkin has some additional insights here.

Ending bigoted education laws

Edmond student arrested for dealing LSD after fellow student overdoses

KFOR has the story.

‘The list goes on, but the stories are much the same’

"There's a reason teachers engaged in relationships with students usually go to great lengths to keep their trysts a secret," The Oklahoman editorializes today.
In 2015, Eric Reid Ramirez, then a 23-year-old substitute teacher and wrestling coach at Western Heights High School, had sex with an 18-year-old student. Ramirez was subsequently charged with second-degree rape and eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of outraging public decency. When the girl's mother, a former school district employee, later sued the district, she noted her child has disabilities. “My daughter, even as a 20-year-old, has the mind of a 13-year-old. She's highly gullible and easy tricked," the woman said. "This guy was a predator.” 
Vincent Chad Warford, a former teacher at Freedom Public Schools, was arrested in 2017 after allegedly requesting nude photographs from a 14-year-old he once coached. 
In 2017, former Luther Public Schools band director Kyle Whitmus was sentenced to 20 years in prison for lewd acts against a 12-year-old student.
"Any job providing access to children is going to attract a disproportionate number of pedophiles," The Oklahoman notes. "At the same time, virtually all teachers are honorable people and not child molesters."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pastor asks OKC school board to embrace tolerance

"All that we are asking," Pastor Sam Storms recently told the Oklahoma City school board, "all that Mr. Humphreys desires, is that he be granted the same right and freedom to embrace his views on human sexuality that is granted to the LGBTQ community."
He is more than willing to affirm their right to believe and live in accordance with their convictions concerning homosexuality. He simply is asking that he be shown the same dignity and granted the same constitutional freedom when it comes to his beliefs about what the Bible says concerning homosexual behavior.
I’m not asking that you agree with his or my moral convictions concerning homosexual practice but only that you extend to him the same respect and intellectual freedom that you so tenaciously protect on behalf of all others.

Were Mr. Humphreys to be removed from the Board of John Rex School it would tell me and others that anyone can serve on this Board except evangelical Christians. It tells me that every view is permissible and should be granted freedom of expression and protection from discrimination except the view embraced by orthodox, Bible-believing Christians.

Surely our emphasis on “inclusion” and “tolerance” and the importance of showing respect for all views should be extended to all persons, including Mr. Humphreys.

Teachers cite dues, ideology for OEA membership slide

Jay Chilton has the story.

Oklahoma charter school teacher earned $106K last year


EPIC Charter Schools' highest-paid teacher made $106,324 in 2016-17, the Tulsa World reports.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Inola adapts to four-day week

Inola Public Schools superintendent Kent Holbrook tells the Tulsa World that the district may keep its four-day school week regardless of funding.
Holbrook said some people argue that the four-day week is bad for students, while others see it the opposite way. He said the district would evaluate with the community whether or not going back to five days would be the right thing to do.

State Chamber strategic plan recommends school choice

Patrick McGuigan has the story and discusses it here on News 9.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bixby football players admitted to sexually assaulting student at superintendent's home

They also recorded the incident, the ABC affiliate in Phoenix reports.

Bluejacket parents say teacher allowed child to be bullied

"Parents in Bluejacket are angry after they say an elementary gym teacher encouraged students to bully their son," the News on 6 reports.

Bullying most common reason students choose virtual schools

"Forty-one percent of students who attend a virtual charter school in Oklahoma left their previous school because they were victims of bullying," Ben Felder reports in The Oklahoman.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Most government-funded programs allow participants to choose a provider

"Public education in America is one of the only major government-funded programs that does not allow participants to choose a provider," the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) notes in a new report.
Social Security beneficiaries can choose how they spend their benefits. Medicare and Medicaid recipients generally choose their health care providers. Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients can choose where they shop. Federal Housing Choice Voucher program recipients can choose where they live, and in fact, the federal government touts the accommodating aspect of housing choice: “Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.” Thus, adding choice in education is consistent with the tradition of other large government-funded programs.

Textbooks nationwide saturated with identity politics

"California has had enormous influence on the nation’s history textbooks in the past, and single-interest groups have long flocked to Sacramento to try to gain expanded, favorable inclusion," writes Gilbert T. Sewall, director of the American Textbook Council. "The LGBT lobby has been notably assertive."
But arguing over labels misses the point. What in the world is a television personality like Ellen DeGeneres doing in a first-grade social-studies textbook? If you ask, many educators will look at you funny. If you exclaim that these are little children, that lesbian is a complicated word for six-year-olds, or that age-inappropriate might be an understatement here, heads will shake. If you say that sexualizing historical figures like Emily Dickinson or Florence Nightingale marginalizes their achievements, they will think you are the problem to overcome.

LGBT awareness is one of several themes reshaping social studies/history programs. California mandates study of “Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups.” State law prohibits the state board and the governing board of any school district from adopting textbooks or other instructional materials that contain any matter that “reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry.” Only textbooks assembled according to diversity’s catechism need apply for state approval.

Not just in California but nationwide, curriculum supervisors at all levels, by law or partiality, won’t consider volumes unless they align to multicultural premises. Old-style textbooks have been taken out of print. As a result, teachers and parents are finding it close to impossible to avoid lessons saturated in identity politics.