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.