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