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

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?