Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bigots lose, school choice wins, today at Supreme Court

"Religious bigotry is one reason we have 'public schools' in the United States," Trent England writes. "Government-run schools with compulsory attendance were developed as a tool to wipe out minority religious views. That conflict continues, and today the Supreme Court sided with religious minorities in a dispute that arose in Montana but that also helps protect a program in Oklahoma."

"Espinoza buttresses the already favorable educational choice environment in Oklahoma," the Institute for Justice points out.
In Oliver v. Hofmeister, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a publicly funded scholarship program for students with disabilities under the state’s Blaine Amendment because the program was neutral toward religion and the aid was for the child. Espinoza reinforces that Oklahoma is free to enact any type of generally available educational choice program its policymakers believe will best serve the state’s students.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds tax-credit scholarship program

Ray Carter has the story.

OKCPS to create school clubs that will be BLM chapters

KOKH has the story.

Teacher unions seek police ouster from schools

"Teacher unions are among those now seeking to have police evicted from public schools as activists decry those officers’ presence as a sign of 'systemic racism,'" Ray Carter reports.

Friday, June 26, 2020

State board of education reprimands Oologah-Talala for teacher misconduct cases

"Oologah-Talala Public Schools had its state accreditation placed on probation Thursday and its local school board and superintendent are being publicly reprimanded by the Oklahoma State Board of Education," the Tulsa World reports. "Representatives of the Rogers County school district were first summoned before the state board in October, citing their handling of four separate cases of teacher 'misconduct of a sexual nature involving students' over the last four years."

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Lockdown proves value of school choice

Some wealthy public school districts, where geographic boundaries have the effect of keeping education segregated, enjoy lavish facilities—such as this $2 million Deer Creek media center that boasts its own cafĂ©. Private schools like Crossover Prep in north Tulsa cannot afford such things but nevertheless responded well to the COVID lockdown.

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

When schools in Oklahoma and nationwide transitioned to distance learning in April in response to COVID-19, many schools simply stopped teaching students. Recent polling indicates parents noticed—and aren’t happy with that fact.

A recent RealClear Opinion Research nationwide survey found 40 percent of families are now more likely to homeschool or use virtual school after the COVID lockdowns. The desire for alternatives is understandable given how many traditional schools handled their duties during the shutdown. In too many cases, schools simply stopped teaching new material or even grading lessons that students were asked to complete.

And that trend was not a product of the “digital divide” that makes online learning more challenging for low-income students. In fact, some of the state’s wealthiest suburbs were among those who did the least for students.

Norman Public Schools informed parents and students that “no grades will be taken on activities assigned during distance learning.” Longtime journalist and Edmond parent Ted Streuli noted in a column that 90 percent of homes in Edmond have internet access, yet he wrote that students in that suburban school were asked to cover only “material they’ve already mastered” that “doesn’t count” because it was not graded.

Insufficient technical expertise was not the chief barrier. EPIC Charter Schools, the state’s largest online K-12 provider, offered several free distance-learning tools to other Oklahoma public schools, including two hours of staff development. Reportedly, only four districts took EPIC up on that offer by the April start of the statewide school re-opening via distance learning.

In March, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education estimated that only 10 percent of schools nationwide would provide “any kind of real curriculum and instruction program.”

It turns out student demographics mattered less in this process than school officials’ grit and dedication. For example, Crossover Preparatory Academy, a private school in north Tulsa that serves mostly working-class minority male students in grades six through nine, continued teaching and grading new material. That school serves many students with significant economic challenges and a lack of home internet access, yet school officials found a way to serve those children anyway.

As a result, those young boys in north Tulsa received a better education this year than many of their affluent peers who attend suburban schools. The suburbs may have lavish facilities, but long-term benefit is generated by student learning, not school architecture.

Many students at Crossover attend that school thanks to the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, which supports school-choice options for low-income students. Lawmakers had the chance to build on success and expand that program this year, but House Republican leaders refused to hear the bill even after the Senate passed it.

Perhaps House Republican leaders feel what happened to students in Edmond and Norman should be the standard statewide. But polling suggests that parents, in Oklahoma and elsewhere, disagree.