Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Teachers don’t live by bread alone

"Public school teachers are paid more than other teachers and have better benefits and job protection," Greg Forster writes. "Yet private school teachers report higher job satisfaction on a variety of metrics."

Only a third of Tulsa Public Schools juniors ready for college or career

The Tulsa World has the story.

Teens arrested after threatening to shoot up OKC school, kill principal

FOX 25 has the story.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Missouri district starts four-day school week

"Teachers were in favor of the change," Jared Leone reports.
Students see the benefits from it, too. "It’s definitely been a big change, but I think most of the students like it better," student Heather Weaver told the Sedalia Democrat. "We have time to do our homework and projects, and it’s nice to have the extra day to work on them."

Student found with loaded gun at Owasso High School

KRMG has the story.

Voucher regulation reduces quality of private school options

Corey DeAngelis discusses his new study here.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

School with security officers and cameras adds guard shack

Other than that, it doesn't resemble a prison whatsoever. The News on 6 has the story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Oklahoma lawmaker holds interim study on school bullying

"The Oklahoma Youth Risk Behavior Survey found 40,000 high school students said they were bullied at school—although only around 4,700 cases of bullying by a student were reported to the State Department of Education," KFOR reports. "Thousands of students said they've planned suicide."

Monday, September 10, 2018

OKC charter school drawing families downtown

"Located in the heart of the city's downtown, [John Rex charter] school is viewed as a catalyst for convincing families to move into the growing number of apartments and condos being built in the area," The Oklahoman reports. "Last year, 28 percent of John Rex students came from the downtown attendance boundary. This year, John Rex will serve more than 600 students with another 500 on a waiting list, according to school officials. Students living inside the school's downtown attendance boundary are offered automatic enrollment, and while that includes some low-income neighborhoods beyond downtown, it also includes residential developments that can cost as much as half a million dollars."

Oklahoma senator says bullying is a problem

"You don’t have to look past Facebook to understand what a massive problem bullying is in our culture and within our schools," says state Sen. Rob Standridge (R-Norman). "We must not sit by and let another child take their life because we failed to adopt policies that could have prevented such a desperate act."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Police investigate after video shows Weatherford student making threats

News 9 has the story.

Oklahoma pre-K—spending a lot for less

"Oklahoma’s education funding is spread more thinly over more students, as compared to most states, because of our large prekindergarten program," economist Byron Schlomach writes in The Journal Record.
In 2015, 75 percent of Oklahoma’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in public school prekindergarten. Only two states, Vermont and Florida, enrolled a higher percentage. Meanwhile, 26 states enrolled fewer than 20 percent of their 4-year-olds. Another 14 states enrolled fewer than 40 percent. You would think that if large prekindergarten programs led to success, Oklahoma would provide the evidence. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s outsized public prekindergarten program likely accomplishes little more than enlarging the state’s school bureaucracy and providing free child care.

Oklahoma’s prekindergarten program has been around long enough that if it really makes a difference, Oklahoma should have seen some gains relative to the rest of the country. In fact, Oklahoma’s fourth-graders consistently score below the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, despite a much celebrated blip in 2015 that was completely erased by 2017. It’s not as if the country-wide results are rocketing skyward and we are just lagging a little. NAEP results nationwide are flat.

Despite the less-than-stellar results, Oklahoma formula-funds prekindergarten at an extraordinary level, and has for more than 20 years. A prekindergarten student’s formula-funding is 30 percent higher than a fourth-grader’s and more than 8 percent higher than a middle or high school child’s. Private school pricing in Oklahoma, not determined by politics, charges a slight premium for preschool ages compared to other low grades, but nothing like the funding premium in public school formulas.

It makes sense to charge more for schooling 4-year-olds than for fourth-graders. Fourth-graders respond more predictably to rules and discipline, are far less likely to have restroom issues, and they can sit still longer. But private school pricing suggests only a 5 percent bump in prekindergarten funding over fourth grade.

Why is public school funding for prekindergarten so high? One reason might be that there is a college-educated individual who qualifies for the minimum teacher salary schedule (at lowest, $37K this year) in every classroom. Prekindergarten classes are held to 20 or fewer students, and more than 10 students require a teaching assistant, according to a law that has been relaxed but is still largely adhered to. Though subject to regulation, private schools still find it less necessary to have college graduates work with 4-year-olds and have greater flexibility with what they pay.

The political pressure for universal prekindergarten programs has been bolstered by research on early-age brain development and its seeming implications for lifetime intelligence, indicating urgency for getting children into learning environments. Recently, an ongoing study of Tulsa’s prekindergarten results indicated tangible benefits for prekindergarten participants, that they are more ready for kindergarten.

For those of us who didn’t attend kindergarten, much less prekindergarten, but still managed a Ph.D. in economics or, in the case of my brother, helped to engineer the Joint Strike Fighter, prekindergarten’s benefits seem mighty sparse. The fact is, prekindergarten’s positive effects on standardized test scores have long proven temporary. But recently, the Arnold Foundation’s Straight Talk on Evidence website reviewed results of a large randomized trial from Tennessee that shows prekindergarten has mostly negative long-term effects kicking in by third grade.

Scaling back Oklahoma’s prekindergarten system to half its current size would save $140 million and the program would still be larger than those of most states. It might be time to rethink and limit our state’s prekindergarten to the truly disadvantaged, hopefully without hurting their future academic success.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Investigation under way after two Deer Creek teachers injured

An incident at Deer Creek Intermediate School "left two teachers injured and a student being questioned," News 9 reports. "On Friday, News 9 received a call from a concerned parent, stating that a student at Deer Creek Intermediate School may have stabbed and punched a teacher."

Monday, September 3, 2018

Oklahoma students continue to miss the mark on state exams

"With few exceptions, students enrolled in Oklahoma's largest school district performed poorly on state tests following a second year of higher academic standards," The Oklahoman reports today.
Just 16 percent of students tested in late April and early May scored proficient or better in English/language arts, according to data provided by Oklahoma City Public Schools. 
The results were even worse for math, with just 13 percent of students scoring proficient or better. ... 
Statewide, student proficiency rates also remained low, with just 33 percent of third-graders and 28 percent of seventh-graders scoring proficient or better in English/language arts, compared to 39 percent and 34 percent, respectively, in 2017. Sixth-grade math proficiency fell seven points to 28 percent. 
In the Oklahoma City district, 13 percent of third-graders and 14 percent of seventh-graders scored proficient or better in English/language arts, compared to 17 percent and 18 percent, respectively, in 2017. Sixth-grade math proficiency, meanwhile, dropped from 17 percent to 11 percent, data shows.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Teenager accused of threatening to shoot up El Reno school

KOCO has the story.

Former Tishomingo superintendent under state investigation

"There are new details Friday on former Tishomingo superintendent Kevin Duncan, who we reported this week is under state investigation for possible misuse of school funds," News 12 reports.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says a search warrant led them to find several of the items that were listed as suspicious purchases inside Kevin Duncan's home. "There was an area rug found, the television, three lampshades and a red and black Liftmaster Solar Residential Linear Actuator," OSBI Public Information Officer Jordan Solorzano said. ... 
Duncan's wife, Shelley, is awaiting retrial for an alleged sexual relationship with a then-14-year-old Tishomingo boy in 2016.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Macomb teacher arrested on child pornography charges

KFOR has the story.

Why parents fear school shootings

"If you’re the parent of high school-age kids," David French writes, "and they attend a high school of any size, I’d be willing to wager you’ve heard your child talk about 'the guy who’s going to shoot up the school'— or, if the language isn’t that explicit, you’ve heard them express concerns about a student who is deeply troubled and makes other students nervous. Almost every high school has kids who don’t fit in, who lash out or make threats, or who simply strike other kids as 'odd.' When I was in school, the student response was often remorseless bullying, tempered only by the (vague) fear that they might harm themselves. Now it’s different. The fear is they might harm others."

Porter High School student accused of threats

KRMG has the story.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Support for ed choice grows


The most recent release of the annual Education Next poll "shows significant jumps in support for educational choice," the American Federation for Children points out.
Looking at the consistently worded questions over the years, the 2018 poll showed:
  • Support for publicly-funded scholarships to private schools, also known as vouchers, increased from 45 percent last year to 54 percent this year. And 61 percent of parents support this policy, up from 52 percent last year. 
  • Support for tax credit scholarships to private schools increased from 55 percent to 57 percent.
  • Support for charter schools increased from 39 percent to 44 percent. 
  • Notably, opposition to vouchers has decreased 13 percentage points since 2016, from 44 percent to 31 percent today. (Education Next's Paul Peterson noted last year that the PDK organization's surveys also showed a similar dramatic decrease in the opposition to vouchers: an 18 percentage point decrease over a four-year timeframe.)
  • Hispanic support for vouchers increased dramatically, from 49 percent support last year to 67 percent this year. AFC's National School Choice Poll from January 2018 showed similar results with 72 percent of Hispanics supporting school choice. 
The AP story in The Norman Transcript is here.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Don't close schools on Election Day

“School districts should not close schools on Election Day for the express purpose of increasing their employees’ political clout,” political scientist Greg Forster writes today in the state’s largest newspaper. “It would not just inconvenience parents and thus make it harder, not easier, for everyone else to vote. It would also politicize and polarize public schools even worse than they already are.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Oologah-Talala teacher accused of having sex with student during teacher walkout

"Charges have been filed against a former Oologah-Talala High School teacher related to an inappropriate relationship with a student," FOX 23 reports.
An affidavit filed with the case says Hailey Smart was having sexual relations with a student during the 2017-2018 school year. ... The affidavit stated the two had sex in the classroom multiple times after class. Smart is also accused of having sex with him at his house during the teacher walkout.
The British press has the story here. This sort of behavior during a teacher walkout (a Clinton teacher reportedly confessed to the same thing) strikes me as wildly inappropriate.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Nice work if you can get it

One retired school superintendent in Oklahoma is being paid more than $192,000 annually. Another local superintendent retired at age 61 and is paid more than $174,000 annually. 

Compare that to your pension. How much money would you need to save to guarantee an income stream like that in your retirement years? 

Victim suing Edmond school district

KFOR has the story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Okmulgee student threatens to 'shoot up the school'

"Police detained a student who made what was believed to be a 'credible threat' Tuesday morning against Okmulgee High School," the Tulsa World reports. "Okmulgee police were notified about 9:30 a.m. that a 14-year-old male student had threatened to 'shoot up the school,' Okmulgee Police Chief Joe Prentice said during a news conference."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Texas school district switches to four-day school week

The Associated Press reports that the local superintendent "is frank in explaining another reason: The new schedule, which starts in the fall and extends the school day by a half-hour, may prove attractive to parents in surrounding towns, and the district would benefit from the valuable $6,000 to $7,000 in state aid for each new student who enrolls."

Student stabbed at Luther High School

NewsOK has the story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Oklahoma school bus driver accused of committing lewd acts

News 9 has the story.

TPS performance still woeful

"Tulsa Public Schools’ performance on state testing continued to trail the statewide averages in every grade and subject in 2018," Samuel Hardiman reports for the Tulsa World.
The district’s 80 schools showed uneven performance in the second year of more rigorous state testing. Some of the district’s highest-performing schools saw marked declines in their proficiency rates, while some lower-performing schools saw large percentage increases in the number of students who were proficient. The district’s overall average scores in lower grades declined quite a bit from 2017, but seventh- and eighth-grade proficiency climbed slightly. ... 
The highest proficiency rates in the district were at the soon-to-be-renamed Lee School, which had the three highest proficiency rates on any test. Eighty-one percent of third-graders at the school were proficient in math, and 76 percent of fourth-graders were proficient in English language arts.

Fourteen TPS schools had at least one test result where 0 percent of its students were deemed proficient. In 2017, 12 schools fit that description.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tulsan inspired by Booker T. Washington


The latest e-newsletter from the Opportunity Scholarship Fund (OSF) has a brief profile of OSF board member Eddie Huff. "Eddie is a former missionary and licensed minister with an undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University," the e-newsletter reports. "Eddie is also a financial services representative as well as a radio personality, writer, and public speaker living in Tulsa." Says Mr. Huff:
It doesn't take great deductive powers to see the standard of education has deteriorated over the years. Finding a way to improve education is a little harder. I was inspired after meeting the great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington at an event in Washington, D.C. Dr. Washington's message promoted the idea of using education as a means to increase potential instead of getting out of work. I want to promote that message and idea.

I want to find and support private schools open to emphasizing the worldview and vision of Booker T. Washington and Gen. Samuel T. Armstrong, whose education policies inspire me.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Political bias in education policy research

"Education policy research is not really a scientific enterprise," Jay P. Greene writes.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Scholarship helping 15-year-old achieve his full potential

There's a wonderful profile in the current issue of Opportunity Knocks, the quarterly e-newsletter of the Opportunity Scholarship Fund. "Jack is a 15-year-old middle school student living with cerebral palsy after an anoxic brain injury from a near-SIDS event when he was a baby," the e-newsletter reports. "His dad, John, applied for a scholarship from the Opportunity Scholarship Fund to ensure Jack could attend Special Care Inc." Says John:
Jack was lucky enough to join the Special Care family when he was only three months old. Jack eats with a tube, travels in a wheelchair, breathes through a trach, and has rods up his spine to combat the scoliosis that developed from his CP, but has a very full social calendar in spite of his limitations.

The scholarship has allowed us to keep up with Jack’s tuition and still afford all his medical costs and the extra things that are required for keeping a child going with special needs.

Special Care is the best place for kids like Jack who need specialized care and a safe, inclusive environment. Without this private-facility setting, Jack would almost certainly have been institutionalized by now.

Limiting the opportunity for donors to contribute to a tax-credit scholarship lowers the chances of many children to be in an environment where they can achieve their full potential.

School safety concerns help fuel Oklahoma homeschool, virtual school growth

"Proponents of educational options in Oklahoma say that many parents who choose to withdraw their children from traditional public schools cite safety concerns as high on the list of reasons," Mike Brake reports.

Two Pawnee students in custody for planned school shooting

"Pawnee Police Chief Wesley Clymer says two teenaged boys are in police custody accused of planning a school shooting," the News on 6 reports.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Aggravated assaults happening in Oklahoma schools

"Aggravated assaults, student on student—it's happening in Oklahoma's schools," News 9 reports. "We pulled the data and found last year alone more than 1,700 incidents. What's more alarming is the that most of those assaults occur inside some of the youngest classrooms."

Fort Towson superintendent caught texting while driving school bus

"The Oklahoma State Department of Education is looking into allegations that a local superintendent was talking and texting while driving a school bus," KXII reports.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

#OKleg should stop hiding education spending numbers


"It is one thing to fail at attempts to implement transparency," economist Byron Schlomach writes, "but it’s quite another to intentionally hide information."

Statewide student proficiency rates remain low

"Oklahoma student proficiency rates are down slightly in almost every grade and subject after a second year of higher academic standards, new state test results show," Andrea Eger and Samuel Hardiman report in the Tulsa World.

The blind leading the blind

Kathy Harms is a "health educator" who "roves from school to school around Oklahoma City, teaching primarily middle school students," Meg Wingerter reports in The Oklahoman.
“I'm not going to come in here and tell you not to have sex. That's not my role,” [Harms] said. “It's me saying, consider all the responsibility that comes along with it.”

Friday, August 3, 2018

Emergency?

"Special-interest groups and liberal journalists are always eager to peddle some new 'emergency' that requires higher taxes and more government spending," Jonathan Small writes today in The Journal Record. "But parents and taxpayers deserve better than endless pearl-clutching about 'emergency' certifications. They deserve the full story about the effectiveness of traditional certification."

Suggested homeschool regs impractical

"Thousands of Oklahoma children are homeschooled without abuse," The Oklahoman reminds us in an excellent editorial.
And the cases that do generate headlines highlight the challenges of crafting a functional regulatory system that can prevent abuse without endless harassment of good parents who legitimately homeschool.

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which advocates for greater regulation, maintains an archive of news stories involving abused children who were supposedly being homeschooled. Several Oklahoma cases involve people who lived transient lifestyles and rapidly moved from one state to another. Some were cult members. One family moved to Oklahoma from Pennsylvania in the spring and lived at a remote campsite. Another case involved a couple who became foster parents to six children in 2001. By 2003, two had been removed from the home because of abuse, yet the other four were left in the home and suffered years of abuse despite the family having already drawn the attention of authorities.

It's hard to imagine a credible homeschooling regulation that would dramatically change the outcomes of such cases.

Some argue that homeschooled students should have to take annual standardized tests to ensure they receive a good education. But standardized tests show thousands of Oklahoma's third-grade students read well below grade level, and there is no penalty placed on the public school for those failures.

It's been suggested a third-party entity monitor a child's homeschool education. But that would impose excessive costs upon families and effectively force them to duplicate the public school system they opted against. That's counterproductive.

It's also suggested that homeschooled students be required to get an annual medical checkup. But most of these students already see a doctor and the same requirement isn't imposed on public school students, which appears grounds for a successful lawsuit.

One can't ignore that many children attending public schools are victims of abuse. And school attendance doesn't guarantee protection. In some notable cases, school officials have turned a blind eye or delayed reporting abuse. In other instances, public school attendance increases the likelihood of a child being mistreated. There's a reason “anti-bullying” programs are now common in schools.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

We shouldn't need to use science to grant educational freedom

"The strongest scientific evidence we have on the subject suggests that private school choice works," Corey DeAngelis writes.
But that really shouldn’t even matter. Just as people have the right to pick their own groceries, people should have the right to pick the schools that they believe will work best for their own kids. And just as government officials cannot force families to eat at particular restaurants, government officials shouldn’t be able to force families to send their kids to failing government schools.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bixby teachers union conducted ‘strategic’ voter targeting at district facility

"During Oklahoma’s primary election season, Bixby Public Schools administrators allowed school facilities to be used for political activities by a union Oklahoma Education Association affiliate, the Bixby Education Association," Jonathan Small writes in The Journal Record.
The BEA is a union that represents government employees and gives 40 percent of the dues it receives from teachers to their far-left affiliate, the National Education Association.

In fact, the BEA used schools to organize phone calls and door-to-door canvassing targeting a strategic list of voters. Asked about these activities, the BEA deleted references to targeting particular voters from its website and insisted they were just reminding people to vote.

That is hard to believe given how much adult interest groups like the BEA have at stake in shaping the debate. Organizations like the BEA have worked hard this year to shift education debates away from academics and toward funding. Their allies—including local school administrators—do everything they can to keep the public conversation focused on state government rather than on what local districts might do better.
Should education debates focus just on money? Are local administrators incapable of directing more resources to the classroom? Students might benefit from a public debate on these questions, but the interests of a handful of adults often trump the needs of students.

Bixby Public Schools was already a tragic example of adults protecting their own power and money at the expense of students and taxpayers. Last year, the district got caught mishandling sexual assault allegations in order to protect Superintendent Kyle Wood. The school board allowed him to retire with full benefits plus a $167,000 payout even though the alleged assaults took place at Wood’s own home.

Are Oklahoma public schools accountable?


It's not "accountability," I write over at Education Post, if no one is held accountable.

Claremore teacher charged with sexual battery

"A 24-year-old Claremore teacher was charged after allegedly being in an inappropriate relationship with a Claremore High School student," the Tulsa World reports.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dysfunctional schools endanger kids


Over at the blog Fourth Generation Teacher, one former Oklahoma teacher tells why she hung it up. "I had to do it for my mental health and happiness," she says.

This young woman, who obviously has a heart for children, describes a dysfunctional school system in which the adults won't place some students in the proper educational setting and/or won't discipline them. "I had a fight every day between students," she says. One particular student, she says,
would hit the students, pull their hair, hit me, punch me, punch them, etc. ... I would get phone calls every day from parents about how much their kids were getting hurt by this little girl. Do I blame the little girl? Absolutely not. She is a child who is going through so much. Do I blame the school system for letting that happen? Yes. This same girl one day had a necklace around her neck in the gym in the morning she was “pretending” to choke herself. Knowing that she has tantrums, I was told by an administrator not to poke the bear and let her keep playing with it. Five minutes later I am taking my class back to my room, and I see her turning blue with that necklace wrapped around her neck and she can’t get it off. Thank God it had a snap and I pulled and ripped it off of her. She finally got placed ... in March. She was safer and she was happier. However, I saw our systems fail us when she was supposed to be there to begin with and no one thought it was crucial enough to keep not only her safe but my other students safe as well.
She tells of another violent student who "would kick, punch, choke, and hit students every day."
He would kick, push, and hit me most of the time too. He would throw chairs around the classroom. I would have to evacuate my classroom because of his violence at least twice a month. Daily, he would run out of the classroom around our three-story building. I would have to stop class to chase him and find him to keep him safe. Then I was told not to chase him, to let someone know. But even then, I’m worried for his safety. When I’d chase him, I wasn’t supposed to. When I wouldn’t chase him. I was supposed to. It was a damned if ya do and damned if ya don’t situation.
I had another student almost get kidnapped at my school. A coworker and I basically saved them, they were walking to a car with the wrong people. We got threatened by those people. Did anyone take it seriously? No. That same girl held scissors to her throat in the middle of class one day trying to cut herself. My class was in tears scared. That poor girl. She’s a first grader and feeling the need to do that.
Read the whole thing here.

Oklahoma teachers are the ones in the trenches every day; they're the ones with firsthand knowledge of school quality and safety. Is anyone surprised that, according to survey research that SoonerPoll conducted for the state's largest newspaper, nearly 4 in 10 Oklahoma teachers would choose a private school or homeschooling for their own children?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How beneficial is Oklahoma pre-K?

"Many consider Oklahoma a national leader in pre-K education," Greg Forster writes in a new policy brief, "but how beneficial are pre-K programs?"
The empirical evidence is very uneven in scientific quality, especially as compared with the evidence on other education policy issues like school choice. A careful review of the research reveals that the better the studies are in scientific quality, the less likely they are to find benefits. The potential of expanded pre-K to disrupt the parent/child bond must also be considered, especially since the increasing fragility of the household is a leading factor in the perpetuation of poverty. Any large-scale expansion of pre-K would involve large financial costs, doubtful benefits, and the potential for unintended social harm.

The end of accountability?

"In American public education and government generally, 'accountability' serves as a shibboleth," writes professor and school board member Robert Maranto, the editor of the Journal of School Choice. 
Many argue that since traditional public schools face democratic accountability, parents need no school choice. Yet the use of term accountability recalls the delicious line in The Princess Bride when, after the arrogant, erudite Vizzini (played by Wallace Shawn) repeatedly shouted “inconceivable” when repeatedly proved wrong, simple swordsman, Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), answered “you keep using that word—I do not think it means what you think it means.” In most endeavors, accountability means the possibility of losing income, even employment. President Trump might face accountability from impeachment, or by voters saying “you’re fired.” Corporate leaders, at least when their governing boards pay attention, sometimes face termination. In most of the global economy, much of the time those performing in what principals consider an unsatisfactory manner must seek alternative employment.

Yet accountability means something very different in public administration generally, and in public education in particular, for at least four interlocking reasons. First, as preliminary work by Ian Kingsbury and I indicates, our fields’ intellectuals do not define accountability in the same manner as the public at large. For the public, accountability means potential termination. In contrast, leading public administration and education journals define accountability as following administrative processes: Well under a tenth of academic references mention possible termination, and nearly all of those address electoral accountability (as may befall Mr. Trump). Similarly, in our analysis of school superintendent contracts, Julie Trivitt, Malachi Nichols, Angela Watson, and I find that it may be difficult to hold school superintendents accountable for academic performance because their contracts seldom mention student learning, and almost never include even long term achievement or attainment goals. Quite literally, most school superintendents have no contractual obligation to improve education. In the school choice debate, both sides are right: School reformers and backers of traditional public schools are talking past each other.

Second, complex bureaucracies are nontransparent, in part to evade accountability. As an elected school board member, I have found that despite various laws “requiring” transparency, (almost) nothing important that happens in a public school system makes the papers. Reporters simply do not know what questions to ask, and we in school systems will not tell them: doing so might be seen as disloyal to our public schools. As a long-time member of a charter board, I must acknowledge that the charter sector is similarly nontransparent to outsiders. While charters are usually smaller and thus easier for reporters and auditors to monitor for wrongdoing, they also attract less attention. It is not clear which sector is more transparent, something which clearly merits systematic study.

Third is the question of accountable to whom. Fieldwork suggests that public bureaucracies excel at serving the politically connected, or as a teacher told me a few years back, school board members’ children automatically get better teachers. Just as heroes in stories have “plot armor,” my teenage daughter refers to her unsought “school board armor.” In well-run school districts like mine, such impacts are limited. Even so, any bureaucracy is accountable to some, but this is very different from being accountable to all. Interestingly, these inequities are essentially unstudied by educational researchers.

Fourth, accountability requires in some way rewarding or punishing officials for their performance. Yet just as tenure may protect ineffective teachers and administrators, obscure election times and a lack of party cues may protect school board members from electoral accountability. My own election to school board had double the usual voter turnout—6%—again suggesting the matter of accountability to whom. Greater levels of political tribalism present even greater barriers to accountability. Reflecting postmodernism (and posttruth), extreme partisanship kept Democratic party identifiers from recognizing the economic success of the early and middle Bush years, and kept Republican party identifiers from acknowledging the robust economic growth of the final Obama years. Similarly, there is little evidence that either Donald Trump’s poor business record or Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poor policy record at the U.S. State Department affected voter evaluations of the candidates.

If voters fail to hold leaders accountable for relatively objective, high attention national conditions like unemployment rates, they will not hold officials accountable for far hazier matters like schooling. Instead, they may support those of the same social or political group, no matter the educational outcomes. The market paradigm proposes that choice enables parents, those with the most skin in the game, to hold officials accountable for how their own children fare, something about which nearly all parents care and about which they have considerable information. As Somin argues, clear and present self-interest and direct knowledge of how schooling affects their children may enable parents to overcome the tribal loyalties exploited by politicians. Much school choice research should examine the degree to which this occurs; that is, the degree to which messy, imperfect markets or messy, imperfect political processes serve the long-term interests of children.

With the demise of No Child Left Behind, we may see the two-decade old “accountability” regime fade. What comes next? Perhaps we should replace accountability regimes with effectiveness regimes, while acknowledging the complexities that effective for one child may be ineffective for others, requiring many options. Because schooling effectiveness is a very individualized matter, perhaps parents can gauge it better than distant “experts” with less local knowledge and no skin in the game. This makes sense if the child is not the mere creature of the state.
Read the whole thing here.

Don't use test scores to regulate education choices

A new study "adds to the mounting scientific evidence suggesting that standardized test scores are not strong proxies for the long-term outcomes that society actually cares about," Corey DeAngelis writes. "In other words, education regulators ought to realize that the tools that they have to attempt to control the quality of schools are far from perfect. And they ought to realize that families already know what’s best for their own kids."

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

One in three parents fear for their child's physical safety at school

"One in three parents fear for their child's physical safety at school, a sharp increase from 2013 when just 12% said they were fearful," according to the latest PDK poll.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Does a Justice Kavanaugh mean that Blaine Amendments are history?

"It is my hope that a court with Kavanaugh on the bench will finally excise Blaine Amendments from state constitutions," Mike McShane writes. "Their legacy of bigotry has lived long enough."

Worthwhile reasons to move school elections

"Put simply, 'local control' of schools is as much myth as reality," The Oklahoman's editorial board notes today, "an argument bolstered by voting participation in school elections."
In a recent analysis of state boards and commissions, Byron Schlomach, economist and director of the conservative 1889 Institute, highlighted why this is problematic for good policy.

“Because of the outsized role that insiders have in the election of school board members, school boards at times appear to be more interested in serving the interest of the insiders rather than the interests of parents and taxpayers,” Schlomach wrote.

This was apparent when many school boards voted to close school for two weeks this year to let teachers engage in political lobbying, with pay. In many districts, that decision was made without consulting the thousands of student families who faced “great inconvenience and cost to parents and educational detriment to students,” Schlomach notes.

Why did school boards ignore parents? Because the school board members owed their election largely to school employees, not parents.

We have argued for moving school board elections to higher-turnout dates to increase citizen input. Otherwise, until school-election participation improves, lawmakers can legitimately claim to reflect the education views of their communities as much or more than do school board members, because a far higher share of local citizens voted for the legislator.
OCPA has written on this topic for years, and survey research from SoonerPoll (2015) and from Cor Strategies (2017) has found that Oklahomans favor moving local school board elections to November.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Oklahoma’s tools of secular selfishness

It's alarming "when religious leaders make themselves tools of secular selfishness in the name of, yet to the detriment of, better schools for kids," Greg Forster writes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Educator candidates ‘should be examined with heightened skepticism’


"Oklahoma’s education blob—school unions, education schools, and their allies—is becoming unusually shameless in its determination to vote itself another taxpayer bailout," Greg Forster wrote two years ago. As we're beginning to see a new batch of "teacher caucus" stories about educators seeking to become legislators, Forster's observations remain relevant and worth re-reading. Journalists would do well to exhibit a tad more of that famous skepticism they pride themselves on.
A press corps with any self-respect or sense of professional responsibility would ask the blob questions like these: Why have previous increases in school budgets and teacher salaries failed to produce educational improvements? ... How much spending—give us a dollar amount—would be enough to make you say spending is sufficient and any problems that persist are the responsibility of the schools? 
As Pew, Gallup, Quinnipiac, and many others have made clear, Republicans don't particularly trust the so-called mainstream media. (Nearly three in four Oklahoma Republicans trust the news media "not at all" or "not very much," and among conservative Republicans that number is doubtless even more startling.) And even though most reporters probably assume that higher taxes and more government spending on education are warranted, they should strive for fairness in their reporting. As Forster says:
Those who demand that government spend more money on themselves should be examined with heightened skepticism. The public interest (in this case, the education of children) should be clearly distinguished from private interests (budgets, salaries, and home prices). And policy should be designed, broadly and in the details, to serve the public interest only. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Muldrow schools, teacher sued over bullying incident

"A former student at Muldrow High School has filed a lawsuit against the Muldrow Public Schools and a teacher in connection with an alleged bullying incident that occurred on Sept. 29, 2016," Sequoyah County Times editor Roy Faulkenberry reports.
The lawsuit stems from an incident on Sept. 29, 2016, when “a student who had previously been reported to administrators by George Brown's parents as a person who had been bullying George Brown, challenged George Brown to a fight on the Muldrow High School grounds in a pavilion with a concrete floor,” according to the petition.

The petition said Brown fell victim to “severe, pervasive and abusive harassment, bullying, isolation, criticism, mocking and physical assault,” beginning in August 2016.

According to the information filed in the petition, Brown and his parents had reported the incidents of bullying to Muldrow Principal Steve Page.

“When the harassment and bullying behavior commenced in the fall of 2016, the District did not have a bullying policy nor harassment/bullying forms available for Brown or his parents to submit. Brown's parents made the reports directly and verbally to Brown's principal,” the petition said.

It's alleged in the petition that on Sept. 29, 2016, that during a lunch break, the reported bully, who is identified as Julie Bosher's son, Brooks Boshers, told his mother in the witness of several students that he was going to “assault and batter George Brown at the pavilion.”

At that time, the lawsuit says Julie Boshers was a teacher at Muldrow Schools and was on duty to ensure student safety. When her son informed her of his intentions, Julie Boshers' response was, “ do what you have to do.”

Brooks Boshers was reported to have proceeded to the pavilion on school grounds and asked his mother, who was the teacher on duty, to hold his things. Boshers then allegedly body slammed Brown onto a concrete slab and punched him in the back of his head.

“Defendant Julie Boshers, mother of the bully, took no action to try and prevent or stop the student bully from assaulting and brutally battering George Brown. Even though she was equipped with communications equipment, she made no attempts to call for assistance or help, the lawsuit said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jindal: 'Choice is the ultimate form of accountability'

In an excellent column today in The Wall Street Journal ("The Moral Logic of School Choice"), former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal takes issue with the argument that schools which participate in school-choice programs should be subject to tougher government oversight. "[T]his logic essentially forces private schools that take vouchers to import the bureaucracy that parents were fleeing in the first place," he observes.
The U.S. has purposefully adopted a deferential, though not absolute, attitude toward parental rights. The government gives parents wide leeway to make choices about their children’s health, diets, and religious practices. Regulators interfere narrowly only in extreme cases to prevent permanent harm, and even then parents have recourse to the judicial system. Shouldn’t parents get the same respect when deciding how their children should be educated?
Indeed, "choice is the ultimate form of accountability, and letting parents pick their children’s schools is valuable in itself, irrespective of outcomes," Jindal reminds us. "Parents’ decisions must therefore be respected even when they are unconventional."

Monday, June 25, 2018

Districts' policies show need for school choice in Oklahoma

The Oklahoman's editorial board cites the latest polling data here.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What kind of safety?

School shootings are horrible, Joel Belz reminds us, but they affect relatively few schools. Meanwhile, millions of parents should be concerned with their children's moral and spiritual safety. "Don't be sidetracked," Belz says.
The very worst result of all this focus on physical safety would be to forget the intellectual and academic devastation that has beset our culture. SAT scores are full of bullet holes, and so are basic skills tests. The last generation’s misdirected priorities are leaving us with a populace unable—or unwilling—to read. They’re often unable to calculate—and unable to think critically or productively about the educational mess they find themselves in. 
Ultimately, though, parents should be most frightened about their children’s spiritual and moral safety. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

It is no accident that the first segment of the American population to desert the public schools in significant numbers over the last 50 years was made up of evangelical Christians—who sensed the spiritual violence and moral mayhem occurring there.
So millions of Americans, driven by these various fears for the safety of their children, have sought to make a prudent choice. The challenge now is that people will be tempted to be preoccupied with the physical safety rather than the threats that, while less noisy, are potentially the most destructive.
Only three or four schools in America—and I do not use the word ‘only’ in a casual way—have been terrorized during the last few months by ultra-equipped gunmen. Those have been devastating events, whose repetition we should do all in our power to prevent. But let’s never forget the devastation that continues to go on in the hearts and souls of millions of students in America’s supposedly safe schools.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Covington teacher's aide charged with sex crimes, furnishing alcohol to minor

The Enid News & Eagle has the story.

Is school choice the black choice?


Monday, June 18, 2018

Oklahoma's real school expenditures per student have more than doubled since 1970

"Improving student outcomes has proved difficult in large part because we are unwilling to take any major steps to make schools better," economist Eric Hanushek writes.
It appears acceptable just to put more resources into existing schools without any evidence of better academic learning. Real school expenditures per student have more than doubled since 1970 [in Oklahoma they increased from $3,813 to $8,646]—yet our graduates’ achievement remains mostly flat. When we talk about dealing with the rigidities of our current education system, people generally shrink back. Witness, for example, the reactions to teacher strikes in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. There were no discussions of relating any salary increases to the effectiveness of teachers. Indeed, the only thing on the table was more funding for failed existing policies.

Ed prof: teacher certification 'has next to no effect on teacher performance'

Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. He also serves on the Fayetteville school board. He previously worked for the Brookings Institution and for the Clinton administration. 

"In contrast to other professions, studies show that certification has next to no effect on teacher performance," he wrote last month in The Wall Street Journal.
Instead it’s is a rote exercise providing the mere appearance of professionalism. There’s a reason the prep schools attended by Barack Obama (Punahou), both Presidents Bush (Phillips Academy), Chelsea Clinton ( Sidwell Friends ) and John Kerry (St. Paul’s) hire uncertified teachers. That certification is the main qualification for public-school teachers shows how differently the country’s elites treat your kids and mine.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sex abuse lawsuit against Oklahoma school to continue

"A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging officials at an Oklahoma school did nothing to stop sexual attacks against a middle school student," the Associated Press reports.

Mounds student said she had sex with coach 'about 100 times'

"A former Mounds High School Girls basketball coach has posted bond after being charged in connection with inappropriate relationships with two students," the News on 6 reports. "Brett Brooksher was booked Tuesday on charges of second-degree rape and sexual battery. Court documents say one of Brooksher's former players said she had sex with him about 100 times starting when she was a junior."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Scholarship organizations are changing lives

Andrew Rice runs a unique school serving students who are battling to overcome addiction. Oklahoma's tax-credit scholarship program helps students like this—and many more.

Mapping drive-times from private schools in Oklahoma

"More than three-quarters of Oklahoma families could drive their K–12 students to a private school in 20 minutes or less," according to researchers at EdChoice.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Teacher raps venerable civil-rights organization

"The National Rifle Association has manufactured a world where schools must ask 'when' and not 'if'" school shootings will occur, writes Mid-Del social-studies teacher Aaron Baker.

The difference between roads and education

"Parks, roads, even policing, don’t come close to the intensely and fundamentally personal—fundamentally human—purpose of education," Neal McCluskey writes. "To assert that letting taxpaying families choose their schools is akin to letting them build private thoroughfares or parks with public dollars at best trivializes education, at worst threatens basic freedom. Indeed, far from calling for government control, the nature of education cries out for letting all people choose."

Andrew Spiropoulos and I touched on this same subject here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Oklahoma voters support educational choice

According to a new statewide survey commissioned by OCPA and conducted by Cor Strategies (502 likely Oklahoma voters; the margin of error is plus/minus 4.37 percent):
Click on the links above to learn more. Trent England and I discussed the survey results today on The Trent England Show. (Be sure to catch the show every weekday at lunchtime on OCPA’s Facebook and YouTube channels. If you miss it live, Trent's archive is here or listen to the podcast on Soundcloud or iTunes.)

Sexual battery, assault charges filed against Jones High School teacher

KFOR has the story.

Overview of the history and status of teachers' unions

Very informative slide deck from Bellwether Education Partners here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Children's and teens' suicides related to the school calendar

As tragic as school shootings are, writes Boston College psychology professor Dr. Peter Gray, they are dwarfed by another school-related tragedy: suicide. 

"The evidence is now overwhelming that our coercive system of schooling plays a large role in these deaths," he writes. Moreover, "actual suicides and emergency mental health admissions are just the tip of the iceberg of the distress that school produces in young people."

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Homeschooling surges as parents seek escape from shootings, violence

"Violence and bullying are a driving force," Valerie Richardson reports for the Washington Times, "but school shootings tip the balance for many."

Former principal of Harrah elementary school charged with felony child abuse

The Oklahoman has the story.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Thursday, May 31, 2018

2017 Oklahoma student proficiency rates

See the results by school district here.

New OKCPS superintendent walking into a disaster area

"Oklahoma City schools are in crisis," OCPA's Trent England tells KFOR.
Just one in five students is proficient in math and only one in four is proficient in English. This is not a "problem." It’s a disaster. Everybody in education has good intentions, but all that matters are results. It’s time for a superintendent who ignores trendy programs, expensive consultants, and other distractions. OKCPS spent $9,104 per student in 2017, but many education dollars never reach the classroom. Superintendent McDaniel can show the right priorities right away by asking the school board to spend less on overhead and more on students.

School security for me, but not for thee


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From homeless to hopeful

Positive Tomorrows is transforming lives, one student at a time.

Ed schools are educationally worthless

"Study after study has found no relationship between teacher training and educational outcomes," Greg Forster writes. "Saying 'ed schools are educationally worthless' is about as shocking to education researchers as saying 'smoking causes cancer.' Yet reforming ed schools is a fool's errand. Oklahoma should make an end run around them." Join the conversation here.

Former Vinita elementary teacher convicted of sexually abusing 8-year-old student

The Tulsa World has the story.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Oklahoma school safety remains focus after recent shootings

"School building design standards and identifying troubled students were topics discussed by state Board of Education leaders at a recent meeting in the wake of another school shooting that resulted in multiple casualties," Ben Felder reports for The Oklahoman.

Edmond mom says district's policies on bullying 'a joke'

"The school bullying issue will receive even more attention from the Edmond School District, intent on identifying problem students before they act out," Steve Gust reports for The Oklahoman.
District Information Director Susan Parks-Schlepp said a committee has been planned since March to "better meet the needs of our students."

Serving on the panel will be district and site personnel as well as representatives of state agencies who specialize in mental health and substance abuse problems.

Another new member will be April Whelan. She is the mother of twins who just completed fourth grade at Edmond's Sunset Elementary. Whelan brought her concerns to the Edmond school board at its May 7 regular meeting. She told board members about the frustration she experienced dealing with a bully she called "John Doe." Barely into the second week of fall classes, a fourth-grader targeted one of her sons with physical and verbal assaults. The offender, she said, also had flipped a desk, cursed at school staff and thrown a trash can in the classroom.

Whelan told the board she took her concerns to Sunset administrators who kept telling her multiple times "it was a process" in dealing with the bully. The offender did receive more than one two-day suspension, but that didn't deter him, Whelan said. During the meeting she said the district's policies on bullying were "a joke."

After the meeting, Superintendent Bret Towne said he had not been aware of the Sunset incident until Whelan spoke to the board. He ordered an immediate investigation into the matter.
Meanwhile, Edmond continues to remain vigilant against bullying, Parks-Schlepp said. "The district is troubled by reports of bullying and is committed to putting an end to student mistreatment by providing better training and resources to staff, implementing prevention programs and reviewing the bullying policy for possible revision."

Thursday, May 24, 2018

OKCPS bus drivers skipping required checks, buses found with broken emergency equipment

"Inspection records from 2017 show more than 70 OKCPS buses didn’t meet state safety requirements," FOX 25 reports.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Only 3 in 10 Oklahoma teachers are unionized


Only 30.3 percent of Oklahoma teachers are unionized, according to a new report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Special education teacher accused of dragging, choking, punching students

"A former Oklahoma teacher is facing two misdemeanor charges after witnesses say she physically injured her special education students," Florida station WFTV reports.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Getting serious about school safety

"It’s time to set aside political agendas and get serious about school safety," says Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James.

Ugly letters from parents force Ada coach to leave

"After leading the Ada High baseball team to one of its most successful seasons in recent history, head coach Austin Jarvis announced his resignation Friday morning," The Ada News reports.
Jarvis took over a Cougar baseball program that had managed just 14 wins combined over its past two seasons. ... However, after being eliminated in regional play the following day, Jarvis returned to the Ada High baseball facility and found a couple of nasty, anonymous letters from parents taped to the locker room door. ...
“This is basically what it said. ‘You’re obviously a good coach, but you’re not a good fit for Ada and you need to find somewhere else to go. It also said, ‘Your kids have brought down the school and are bad influences and have negatively affected the team and school.’ Both my daughter and my son were named. That was our welcome home after the regional tournament,” he recalled.

“They also attacked my faith and my Christianity and basically accused me of not being a Christian. From that and some other emails sent along those same lines, we decided maybe we should take that advice and find somewhere else to go.”

Jarvis said he and his wife, Jamie, made the gut-wrenching decision to leave Ada City Schools—and the baseball program—Thursday evening.

“My wife’s comment to me last night was, ‘We just left a school we were really happy with in Victory Christian and when we left, the parents were hugging us and crying and not wanting us to leave. Then we come here and people are posting letters telling us to get out of town after a good season,’” Jarvis said. “We don’t need to put up with that. It’s just the best thing for our family at this point to move on and go somewhere where the community supports us and wants us here.”

Jarvis said he and his coaching staff had problems with parents at different times this spring, and the letters were not an isolated incident.

“(Finding the notes) wasn’t a surprise. It was kind of the icing on the cake,” he said. “We had some issues all throughout the season. Mostly playing-time things where parents don’t see reality.” ...

Jarvis said one of the most hurtful things about the entire situation was bringing his children into the situation.

“It’s sad that these are parents. If they would just stay out of it, it would be much better for everybody. Me as a coach, I can handle it. I don’t think it’s justified or warranted, but I can handle it,” he said. “But to attack my kids is crossing a line. They’re no different than their kids. They’re still kids. To attack them by name is just not right, just plain and simple.”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lawton, Altus students get private-school scholarships

KSWO has the story.

Student shoved in locker by teacher, Tulsa mother says

"This has been one of my biggest fears since I have put her in public schools," the News on 6 quotes the mother as saying. "It's like my biggest fear has come back to haunt me."

Police investigating allegations of misconduct at Broken Arrow school

The News on 6 has the story.

Teacher 'advocacy' time

"The Oklahoma City School Board voted unanimously this week to close schools on Nov. 6, Election Day, to allow teachers and staff the chance to 'engage in continued advocacy,'" The Oklahoman's editorial board notes today.
Yukon Public Schools is doing the same thing, and no doubt other districts will as well. Apparently, taking advantage of absentee voting, or the early voting days available prior to Election Day (including, this year, Saturday Nov. 3), or getting to the polls on Election Day at 7 a.m., before the school day begins, or voting after school that day (polls are open until 7 p.m.)—as Oklahomans of all professions will do—is asking too much of school employees. Instead, boards are deciding it's better to inconvenience parents on that day and extend the school calendar by a day so educators can “advocate.” It's a head-scratching development.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Will Oklahoma school spending improve results?


The Oklahoman's editorial board doesn't seem convinced that it will.

Edmond teacher assistant accused of being high on meth at elementary school

"An Edmond schoolteacher assistant was arrested Tuesday afternoon after she appeared to be high on meth at her work," News 9 reports.

OKC elementary school teacher arrested for allegedly violating fellow teacher in school hall

"A Martin Luther King Elementary School teacher was arrested and charged with sexual battery against a fellow female teacher Wednesday," KFOR reports.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Former teacher says ‘many cases’ of abuse not reported ‘for several days or weeks’

"The number of cases where an Oklahoma teacher or school employee has been accused of or convicted of molesting children seems to grow every year," The Oklahoman's editorial board points out today.
Sadly, in some cases other school employees have engaged in foot-dragging before reporting suspected abuse, so lawmakers deserve credit for tightening up state law on reporting. House Bill 2259, by Rep. Dell Kerbs and Sen. Ron Sharp, both R-Shawnee, requires individuals to "immediately" report suspected child abuse or neglect of children to the Department of Human Services Child Abuse Hotline. Reporting is already mandated in state law, but Sharp, a former coach and teacher, noted there have been "many cases" where abuse was not reported "for several days or weeks after it's discovered." That there was a need for lawmakers to legislate basic morality is nearly as sad as the fact so many Oklahoma children are being abused in the first place.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Parents say Muskogee district not doing enough to stop bullying

"Parents are saying Muskogee Public Schools isn't doing enough to protect their kids from bullying," the News on 6 reports.
Cell phone video of a fight at Alice Robertson Middle School in Muskogee shows several girls start punching eighth grader Alaiyah Armstrong. "That is when the first girl, that's when she hit me, and then everybody else jumped in," Alaiyah said. "A lot of people were surrounding me and it felt like I couldn't breathe at all."
"One day I was just thinking about taking my life, but, I mean, it's not worth it because, like, I just think about my family," she said.

Cleveland school employee accused of sexual assault of student

"A Cleveland Public Schools employee has been arrested on a complaint of first-degree rape, accused of an inappropriate relationship with a high school student," the News on 6 reports.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fallin signs financial transparency legislation

"Oklahoma parents and leaders will soon have access to enhanced information on how much funding a school is receiving, average per-pupil spending and other information after Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 2860 today," The Foundation for Excellence in Education reports.
House Bill 2860, and the companion Senate Bill 1199, build upon the state’s existing School District Transparency Act to require the Oklahoma Department of Education to include district and school-level revenue and expenditure data on its website. Additionally, it requires local school districts to link to this data on their websites. This ensures financial data is easily accessible for parents, school leaders and members of the community, as well as promotes resource effectiveness, school empowerment, and fairness.

Muskogee girl beaten up at school

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Regulations haven't produced desired outcomes

The number of regulations in the public school system has grown quickly, Corey DeAngelis points out. "According to the QuantGov database, the number of K-12 education restrictions has increased by almost 1,200 percent since 1970, while student achievement hasn’t budged. Regulations haven’t produced desired outcomes in the traditional public school system."

Perry schools sued again in federal court

"School district officials [in Perry] are accused in a new federal lawsuit of shielding a sexual predator and branding children as liars when they accused an ex-teacher's aide of molestation," The Oklahoman reports today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Online library offers free lessons, affordable textbooks and courses on a wide range of subjects

In a news release today, TEL Library, a nonprofit organization whose vision is to eliminate cost as a barrier to a quality education, announced the availability of its public, online curriculum library.
TEL Library has built a scalable, sustainable library of free lessons and affordable textbooks and courses that cover subjects ranging from history, science, and math, to literature and writing. Library courses are academically rigorous, yet understandable, and relevant to a broad spectrum of learners from advanced high school, through college, to adult learners. The Library’s lessons are available for free through its reference library and in low-cost textbooks and courses.

TEL Library textbooks and courses are ideal for colleges and high schools seeking affordable textbooks and low-cost white-label curriculum solutions. Homeschool students and other independent learners will also benefit from the Library’s affordable, self-paced courses. Experienced learning designers, information scientists, and domain experts are creating Library lessons, courses, and textbooks. New lessons are constantly in development and are regularly added to the library.

The launch of TEL Library represents the realization of the founders’ vision. “Our mission is to provide affordable, high-quality learning options to everyone,” says Vance Fried, TEL Library president. “Our products are good enough for the richest, yet cheap enough for the poorest.”

Affordable Learning  
Affordable learning options are a means to a very important end. “Education is always important,” states Dr. William English, Assistant Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. “It’s the one thing that really makes a difference to a nation’s capacity to innovate, its productivity, and our citizens’ ability to understand and engage with one another and to live productive lives. However, we’ve seen an enormous rise in the cost of education over the last three decades. Higher education institutions are under a lot of pressure to figure out a better model going forward. They are asking themselves—can we make education more affordable and accessible? TEL Library saw that we should be able to bring down some of these costs through technology innovation. If you can provide high-quality, scalable content, you can provide an education for a much lower marginal cost than some of the existing frameworks. The kind of innovations that TEL Library has come up with are going to be very useful as educational institutions reorganize, figure out how to use the internet effectively, and incorporate technology in ways that will reduce the cost of delivery and content.”

Scalable, Sustainable Model 
A key educational technology innovation pioneered by TEL Library is the use of Stackable Lessons™, reusable content blocks that can be combined with other lessons, regardless of subject and order, without losing coherence or learning efficacy. It is the use of Stackable Lessons™ that enables the TEL Library model of delivering affordable content that can easily scale in size and scope. “TEL Library’s unique model for lesson design and reuse allows us to address the needs of many different groups with a single content library,” says Rob Reynolds, TEL Library executive director and co-founder of TEL Library. “Better yet, we can address those needs in a scalable and sustainable manner.”

The TEL Library content development and delivery model is unique and innovative. “What I’ve really noticed is there’s a big difference in how TEL Library has approached this innovation as opposed to other organizations,” continues English. “Ed-tech has traditionally been led by business and tech people. They understand at a high level that there’s an opportunity, to deliver all sorts of content better online. They work on the platforms and business models long before they think about the user, and they end up having to strong-arm academics who will take the time to sit down and develop content. What TEL Library did is at the very beginning they reached out to experts in their fields—people who have been educators for a while, are passionate, and really know what they’re talking about, and got them excited about sharing their expertise. So instead of wrangling people, trying to get them to provide content on the platform, TEL Library was able to assemble a really high-quality academic team to put together content that then everything else sort of fits around.”

Accessible Learning 
As an online resource, TEL Library lessons and textbooks are accessible to anyone, anywhere. “People have changed the way they learn and socialize,” says Dr. Ed Harris, administrator of the Brock International Prize in Education, and Professor and Williams Chair of Educational Leadership at Oklahoma State University. “If you want to learn about a new topic or skill, you don't have to go to a brick and mortar building to learn about it. You can find just about anything you could possibly want to know and learn through the internet. It's really changing the whole idea of place, space and time, and how people exist within those constructs. Schools have to keep up. Technology is just a part of our life. An important trend is adapting the learning situation to that. So, the idea of ‘we will build it and they will come’ is just not working now. So, we need alternatives, and TEL Library is one alternative.”

Pricing and Availability 
The TEL Library opens with hundreds of lessons on a diverse set of topics, available for free in the searchable reference collection. In the coming months, the Library will begin offering textbooks for $9.99 and self-paced courses for under $100.

By the fall of 2019, the library will contain thousands of lessons on topics such as economics, literature, composition, history, science, math, marketing, philosophy, religion, computer technology, communication, art history, and more.

To explore the available lessons and courses, and to experience a free TEL Library lesson, visit www.tellibrary.org.

Teacher unions lie with statistics

Many education activists "conflate state and total funding, play games with baselines, and ignore noncash teacher benefits," Allysia Finley points out.

How much is enough?

Washington, D.C.'s public schools spend more than $27,000 per student per year, Lindsey Burke and Jude Schwalbach point out, yet only two out of 10 eighth-graders in D.C. public schools can read or do math proficiently.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Too many mandates? School boards can now make them disappear

"Local school officials often justifiably complain that they have to deal with a lot of needless regulation and paperwork requirements imposed on them by the state," Byron Schlomach and Vance H. Fried write in a new policy brief.
Indeed, one count of mandates from administrative rules and statutes in Oklahoma numbers them at about 640. Some are a major imposition. Others are trivial. Some seem to be silly. All, however, have the force of law and require time and effort in order to comply.

Oklahoma’s school boards now have a tool at the ready to unilaterally deregulate schools that they oversee. There is a relatively new law in town, only a few years on the books, that allows a school board to designate any campus a “conversion school.” 
In short, "school boards can make those mandates disappear for any school under their control. ... The conversion school option for public school districts, barely exercised so far, opens districts to legitimate criticism for not taking their fate into their own hands. Complaints about mandates will ring increasingly hollow."

Parents deserve a way to get their children out of unsafe schools

"Roughly one in every 50 public school students in the United States was a victim of a physical assault, sexual assault, rape, attempted rape, robbery, or threatened with physical assault at school during the 2015–16 school year," Tim Benson writes in The Hill.

McLoud district switches to 4-day school week

"McLoud Public Schools will be going to four-day school weeks starting in the fall," the Pawhuska Journal-Capital reports.
Since announcing in January that McLoud would be going to shorter weeks, McLoud Superintendent Steven Stanley has noticed a positive change in the applicants for the teaching vacancies in the district. “We felt like McLoud needed to offer something to make it a unique destination and since we made the decision, there has been a significant increase in the quantity and quality of our applicants,” he said.

During the decision process, McLoud Schools discovered several positives in other schools that switched to four-day school weeks. “When we talked to other schools and did our research, we noticed the morale of students and staff were much higher,” Stanley said. “The amount of students disciplined decreased and the overall attendance at these schools went up.” 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

'My kids were giving up, and it was breaking my heart'

Fortunately, this Tulsa mom was able to find help. And check out other excellent OSF videos here.




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Oklahoma capital outlays have risen dramatically


Cato Institute scholar Neal McCluskey has a post today showing total, inflation-adjusted, per-pupil expenditures on Oklahoma's public elementary and secondary schools going back to 1999 ("the only span of years for which the federal government has readily available, total per-pupil spending data for public K-12 schools at the state level").

Total spending rose "from $8,310 per student in 99-00 to $9,114 in 14-15, a nearly 10 percent increase," he writes. "However, instructional spending barely rose at all—just $7. The biggest increase was in capital outlays, which spiked 79 percent, or by $427. The next largest increase proportionally was for other support services, which increased almost 48 percent. After the recession, instructional spending dropped 13 percent, but capital outlays rose 36 percent, and a couple of support services saw upticks."

Did I mention that Tulsa Union is spending $22.5 million on a stadium project?

Monday, April 30, 2018

No, teachers are not underpaid


Opt out today

If you're a teacher or school support employee wanting to opt out of your union, this website provides the information you need.

Priorities


An uncomfortable truth

Some public schools allow Black student-athletes to play for their majority-white high schools even though they can't read or write at grade-level, writes Nehemiah D. Frank, founder and executive editor of The Black Wall Street Times in Tulsa. 

School choice is the solution to school bullying

"In government-run public schools across the country, too many students are unable to escape bullying, even after they leave school grounds," researchers at the Heartland Institute write.
The problems aren’t isolated or minor, either. Twenty-one percent of students aged 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the 2015 school year. During this same 10-year period, there was a steady uptick in youth suicide.

Ruthless cyberbullying, which can terrorize children 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has become endemic because of social media. This suggests that bullying exerts a bigger toll on young people due to its expansive digital presence—tragically pushing desperate students over the edge.

Incessant intimidation and bullying also lower learning potential. In 2015, 14 percent of 15-year-old students attended schools that reported student learning was hindered by students harassing or bullying their peers. Perhaps U.S. students’ stagnant education performance, despite massive increases in school funding over recent decades, can be partially attributed to the hostile learning environments many students are trapped in.

School choice is a viable solution to the problems many children encounter inside and outside of public schools. Parents are desperately searching for more school choice options because government schools cannot protect their children from bullies and other forms of school violence. In fact, nearly two-thirds of people support school choice, including 41 percent who strongly support it, according to a 2018 survey of likely voters conducted by the American Federation for Children. Support is even higher among Latinos and African-Americans.

In March, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) set a precedent more states should follow when he signed into law the Hope Scholarship Program, a tax-credit scholarship program allowing public school K–12 students who are victims of bullying, harassment, and violence to transfer to another public or private school.

The Heartland Institute is dedicated to improving student safety. In its newly released “Protecting Students with Child Safety Accounts” Policy Brief, Independent Institute Research Fellow Vicki Alger and Heartland Policy Analyst Tim Benson propose giving public school students a parent-controlled savings account they can use if their children’s current school environment is a danger to their wellbeing.

Under Heartland’s plan, state education dollars, which are annually allocated for public school pupils, would fund a Child Safety Account (CSA), which would be made available to every student facing a dangerous school environment. The funds could be used to transfer eligible students to a safer school (public, private, charter, or virtual) within or beyond their residential district. The funds could also be used for homeschooling expenses. Parents and other private donors could further fund, or “top off,” the CSAs if the state-allocated money is not enough to cover education expenses.

As it currently stands, wealthy families possess a major advantage if they want to transfer their victimized children from a dangerous school because they can afford to pay for private schools or to homeschool kids. CSAs equal the playing field because they allow all students to attend a safe school. CSAs ensure vulnerable students who are unfairly disadvantaged by the financial circumstances of their parents have the opportunity to receive an excellent education—free from constant bullying and harassment.

Alger and Benson contend, “CSAs would offer parents a near-instantaneous solution to school safety problems by empowering them with the ability to quickly and easily move their child to the school they determine to be the best and safest fit. … CSA programs would not be a silver-bullet solution to the bullying and violence problems plaguing America’s public schools, but they certainly would allow all families, no matter their income level, much greater access to the schools best-suited for their children and their unique safety and educational needs.”