Mike Seals has the story.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Friday, December 11, 2020
[Guest post by Jonathan Small]
Smear tactics are nothing new in Washington, D.C., but those
tactics are now being used in Oklahoma.
During U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s
confirmation hearings, critics portrayed him as a drunk and a rapist.
Fortunately, lawmakers saw through those attacks and confirmed Kavanaugh.
Sadly, similar character assassination, recently carried out
in Oklahoma, sidelined a qualified nominee for the State Board of Education.
This sad episode began when Gov. Kevin Stitt recently
removed Kurt Bollenbach from the State Board of Education and named Melissa
Crabtree of Enid as his replacement.
Bollenbach was clearly out of step with conservatives and
the governor who appointed him. His removal was justified because Bollenbach
vocally supported efforts to bar Christian schools from serving children who
receive scholarships through a state program. The regulations cited to justify
that action were illegally adopted, as an opinion by Attorney General Mike
Hunter soon made clear. It was obvious new blood was needed on the board.
In response, school-choice opponents launched a smear
campaign against Crabtree. Sadly, they succeeded, and she withdrew from
As with Kavanaugh, this debate was not over qualifications,
but over whether conservatives in leadership would advance the conservative
policies endorsed by voters.
Crabtree’s qualifications cannot be denied. She taught
special education in public schools for four years, meaning she may have more
classroom experience than the current state superintendent. Crabtree also
taught the parents of children with disabilities and served at-risk families of
children with special needs for more than a decade through her church.
What part of “longtime educator with expertise in special
education” sounds like a bad fit for the State Board of Education?
Crabtree’s critics objected that she homeschooled her own
children. Many other Oklahomans have done the same. (I’m proud to say I was
homeschooled as a child, yet here I am today, a licensed CPA.) Polling shows
thousands more would homeschool if it were financially feasible. And last
spring’s COVID-19 shutdown left many Oklahomans with a new appreciation for
those who successfully homeschool.
Crabtree’s critics objected that she opposed mask mandates.
That’s not out of line with many Oklahomans, and the science behind mask
mandates is not scientifically rigorous.
Critics said Crabtree touted zinc and Hydroxychloroquine for
COVID-19. A lot of Oklahoma doctors and pharmacists quietly do the same.
Taken as a whole, the attacks on Crabtree—like those lobbed
against Kavanaugh—were clearly intended only to prevent conservatives from
serving in state government.
Many citizens complain Oklahoma has remained mired in the
bottom of education rankings for decades. But we can’t expect results to change
if the only government-education officials deemed “acceptable” to serve are
those unwilling or unable to think outside the box and do things differently.
Friday, December 4, 2020
|An overwhelming 74% of GOP primary voters believe the money should follow the child.
[Guest post by Jonathan Small]
parents are demanding parental school choice and lawmakers are paying
poll by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates (CHS) found 61% of Oklahoma
voters support school choice, which was defined as “the right to use tax
dollars raised for their child’s education to send their child to the school of
their choice whether it is public, private, online, or charter.”
Republicans primary voters, support reached 74%. Support was consistent in both
urban and rural areas.
strong support is no surprise, especially considering ongoing public-school
closures. Those closures are wreaking havoc and destroying opportunity. This is
evident in increased failure rates in academic courses and significant learning
August, an official from Tulsa Public Schools even told the State Board of
Education that district officials expected “that our least-reached students will
have lost approximately a year more learning than would have otherwise been the
case because of the COVID-related interruptions. So if I’m a student who might
otherwise have been predicted to be two years below grade level, we’re
anticipating that that student will now be approximately three years below
school officials now want to end state testing, ensuring parents will not be
notified of a child’s learning loss.
support for school choice is not tied solely to COVID-19. Polls have found
strong support for parental school choice repeatedly since 2014. And Oklahoma’s
political leaders have embraced it.
January 2019, House Speaker Charles McCall said lawmakers “must put parents
back in charge of their children’s education and give underprivileged families
more options and more opportunity to thrive.”
year Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat endorsed raising the cap on
Oklahoma’s tax-credit scholarship program, saying, “Where there are kids that
lack opportunity, my heart pains for them. We need to make sure they are not
Kevin Stitt endorsed school choice in his 2020 State of the State speech,
saying, “Let’s work together to make sure all students at all schools have
access to an innovative, enriching curriculum, regardless of ZIP code.”
despite public support and the backing of legislative leaders, the bidding was
done of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, socialist Bernie Sanders, and the OEA/NEA
union, which heavily opposed both school choice and President Trump and instead
backed Biden and Kendra Horn.
for the most vulnerable, there is now no reason for delay. In addition to
public support, GOP lawmakers also have the numbers on their side. Republicans
now hold 82 of the 101 seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and 39
of the 48 seats in the Oklahoma Senate. It takes only 51 and 25 votes,
respectively, to pass a bill in each chamber.
With this favorable environment for saving the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable through significant expansions of parental school choice, inaction will be impossible.