Thursday, January 28, 2021

Tulsa providing 'inclusive and stigma-free' sex education

"In sharp contrast with the sketchy Reagan-era Falwellian Scare Tactics brand sex-ed curriculum," one writer notes, rest assured that Tulsa Public Schools is providing "inclusive" and "stigma-free" sex education to 7th graders.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Friday, January 22, 2021

Biden no excuse for inaction in Oklahoma

Joe Biden and OEA president Alicia Priest

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

Joe Biden’s inauguration means Democrats now hold narrow control of Congress and the presidency. But it does not mean advocates for freedom have no way to impact policy.

Even when the far-left holds power in Washington, the states remain the place where innovative policy advances are most likely to occur. That should prompt advocates for freedom to redouble their efforts here in Oklahoma.

This would be true at the start of any presidential term, but it’s especially important this year as the disruption created by COVID-19 and the gaping flaws it exposed in our state systems have created public demand for change.

For example, the lack of consistent, quality, in-person instruction in public schools has fueled strong demand for parent choice in education. That will bolster Oklahomans’ influence in urging lawmakers to offer all parents a “ticket out.” Whether a parent wants a new option because their child’s geographically assigned school is little more than a supplier of ultra-“woke” indoctrination, isn’t sufficiently academically preparing kids, or because it will not reopen due to teacher union opposition, all parents deserve options.

The path to reclaiming power at the federal government lies in proving the superiority of your ideas at the levels of government you do control. That means advocates for freedom who are worried about what happens in Washington, D.C., need to be just as concerned about what’s happening “under the dome” in Oklahoma City.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Oklahoma school district says diploma is no indicator of learning

"In a court filing, an Oklahoma school district has declared the issuance of either a passing grade or a high school diploma is not—'and never has been'—an indicator that a student mastered state-mandated core courses," Ray Carter reports.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Ghost-student farce now too big to ignore

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

Status-quo defenders insist waste, fraud, and mismanagement in state government are overhyped. Then how do they explain Oklahoma schools being paid to educate more than 55,000 “ghost students”?

Ghost-student funding has been in place for years, but COVID-19 has put it on steroids.

Oklahoma law distributes state funding based on several factors, one of which is “the highest weighted average daily membership for the school district of the two (2) preceding school years.”

Put in plain English, that means a school can be paid for students who attended two years ago but are no longer there. Thus, even amidst a significant enrollment decline, districts receive huge sums for “teaching” nonexistent “ghost” students.

This funding farce is now too big to ignore. Due to COVID-19 and several districts’ refusal to provide full-time, in-person instruction, there has been a mass exodus to alternatives, including credible online providers such as Epic, other districts, private schools, and homeschooling.

Newly released enrollment figures show Oklahoma schools can now claim more than 55,000 ghost students this year via the use of old enrollment numbers. If ghost students were confined to a single school district, it would be larger than any brick-and-mortar district in Oklahoma—by far.

The financial consequences of ghost-student funding are not minor. The state-aid figure for 2021 is $3,533.17 per student, so those 55,000-plus ghost students translate into at least $195.1 million in misallocated funding.

Just 22 districts account for more than 55 percent of ghost students. Oklahoma City has nearly 6,800 ghost students while Tulsa has 3,291. Those ghost-student payments are on top of money both districts receive for other students who have not received full-time, in-person instruction this year. Because of that poor service, the share of high-school students flunking at least one class in Oklahoma City has surged to 59 percent, and the failure rate in other districts has doubled or tripled, according to KWTV.

Ghost-student funding particularly harms rural schools that have remained open. Those schools have been teaching children, and often steer clear of the political indoctrination seen elsewhere, yet they are being shorted financially for doing their job as other school officials play political games.

One reason school leaders in urban areas have been so indifferent to the needs of families is that ghost-student funding shields them from the full financial consequences of their shutdown decisions.

Schools need to be held accountable for performance. Tying funding to current-year enrollment can be part of that process, although the best reform would be to let tax funding follow the child and empower parents to independently pick any school, whether public or private.

Those of us in the private sector don’t get paid unless we provide promised goods or services to customers. There’s no reason schools should be any different.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Kamala-proofing Oklahoma’s children

[Guest post by Jonathan Small] 

If Oklahoma wants to stop the socialist and anti-American offensive being waged by politicians like Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi, Oklahomans must act to “Kamala-proof” what is being taught to Oklahoma kids.

Consider the dangerous rules adopted by the Democrat leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives. Under those rules, House legislation will no longer refer to a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, nephew, niece, husband, wife, etc. Instead, legislation will use phrases such as parent, child, sibling, parent-in-law, and child-in-law.

The new House rules even ban the use of the words “himself or herself” and instead mandate that “themself” will be used instead.

Democrats don’t want to “risk” referring to someone as male who wants to be referred to as female, regardless of biological reality. In fact, U.S. House Democrats and some Oklahoma Democrats are trying to force boys and men in girls’ bathrooms and males in girls’ sports.

To her credit, Oklahoma Congressman Stephanie Bice, a mother of two girls who represents Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, saw right through the scheme and voted against this insane rule.

But don’t think this danger is confined to D.C. Indeed, Democrats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives tried a similar scheme this week and tried to bring a version of Pelosi’s rules to Oklahoma.

Where does such dangerous, anti-science, and destructive thinking start? It starts in big unions like the Oklahoma Education Association, which opposed Congressman Bice, endorsed far-left Democrat Kendra Horn as well as team Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and is proliferated in urban K-12 public schools and “higher-education.”

The assault on uplifting American values and our kids must be stopped. The best way to stop it is to give parents and students a lifeline out of environments that are trying to force socialist, anti-American views overtly and subversively on our kids.

Oklahoma Republican lawmakers can and should address this threat in this year's legislative session. They can do this by giving parents control over where their kids are required to go to school. 

Lawmakers can give any parent who wants it the option to change their child’s school to the public or private school of their choice by letting their tax dollars assigned for their child’s education follow the child to the school of the parent’s choice. We allow this kind of choice and parental control in many other government programs. It’s time for that to apply in K-12.

If we want to stop the spread of anti-American and anti-Oklahoma values in Oklahoma by the socialists in D.C., if we want to prevent rural Oklahoma from having to subsidize and be negatively impacted by the indoctrinating insanity going on in public education in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, it’s time to give control to parents and to Kamala-proof Oklahoma.