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