Wednesday, December 17, 2014

'Dying on the vine'

Black students in Oklahoma City, that is. Says the local superintendent: "If we don't intervene and do something now, then we know their pathway."

Public money to -- gasp -- private providers

The Tulsa World has the story

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oklahoma school 'was like a battleground'

"Brittany Blake, 16, went to school each day on guard; she was being targeted by bullies," Terry Hood reports from Moore.

“It was like a battleground,” she said. “A school should be a safe place, and it wasn't for me.”

Writing poetry was her refuge; detailing her daily clashes with bullies.

“People were always pushing me into lockers, knocked me down, knocked stuff out of my hands,” Brittany said.

Physical abuse she documented with pictures, but kept secret from her family, including her mother, Vicky.

“We live with the girl every day and we didn't have a clue,” Vicky said. She said, looking back, she didn't pay attention to the signs.

“She'd wear heavy makeup, I guess, and long sleeves when it was warm outside, said it was cold in the classrooms, so she'd wear a jacket to hide her bruises,” Vicky said.

Brittany eventually left her central Oklahoma school and started a homebound program, but the bullying followed her on social media.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The preschool mirage

"Families, not universal preschool, matter most for children's well-being," write Lindsey M. Burke and Rachel Sheffield.

Shakira and preschool

Hips don’t lie, but numbers do.

Beware regulatory creep

ESAs are providing a tailor-made education for students

Kate Scanlon has the story.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The next chapter in educational choice: ESAs

'We are tearing at family fabric when we separate children from parents'

"The early childhood school debate sometimes misses the heart of the matter," writes Russ Pulliam.

The early childhood push originally was aimed at at-risk children, those growing up in homes without enough sophisticated adult talk or missing parents who would know how to prepare them for school. But sometimes advocacy slides more toward universal pre-K education that’s supported by taxes.

Yet skeptics point to studies suggesting that early childhood programs work well when teachers only have a few students and parents receive special training. A less-intense approach won’t necessarily help students in the long run. ...

Jim Strietelmeier works with at-risk families through Neighborhood Fellowship in another low-income area of Indianapolis. He’s zealous for helping families in need but thinks the pre-K campaign has gotten carried away.

"I would be against universal preschool because it feeds into an American greed that will eventually destroy family relationships," he said. "Policy should be geared toward parents educating children in those pre-K years, to build family responsibility. When you detach children from familial relationships, you have an increase of psychological problems."

As a foster parent, he knows that some young ones should be removed from the home. But he is wary of the broader push away from family. "Parents nurturing children will prevent the decay of society," he said. "We are tearing at family fabric when we separate children from parents."

Pay raises for good teachers, but not for bad teachers

"Most Oklahomans do support raises … for good teachers," the state's largest newspaper notes today in an editorial.

But blanket pay raises are typical in schools — and potentially counterproductive. A 2014 study by The New Teacher Project noted lockstep teacher pay can actually encourage poor-performing teachers to remain in school while incentivizing good teachers to leave.

"The amount of taxpayer money that goes toward rewarding poor teaching is staggering," the report said. "Last year, schools in the U.S. spent a conservative estimate of $250 million giving pay increases to teachers identified by their districts as ineffective." A true performance-pay program that financially rewards good teachers could resolve that problem.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kevin Durant visits OKC school for homeless kids

Hats off to KD for paying a visit yesterday to the kids at Positive Tomorrows, a school that serves homeless children. You'll love the kids' reaction in this video.

Earlier this year OCPA produced a brief video about the school. It will do your heart good to take a look:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why aren't Republicans trying harder to reach school-choice voters?

Excellent post by Michael Brickman here.

Separation of church and state, in its current form, is 'an instrument of intolerance'

"A leading member of the Klan in his earlier years was Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black," Mark Bauerlein reminds us over at First Things. "He was third in command of the largest Klavern in the United States. It was Justice Black, of course, who revived Jefferson’s line and planted it into American jurisprudence."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'Throwing money at a system that's not working'

Former Gov. Frank Keating (a Republican) and former state treasurer Scott Meacham (a Democrat) took to the pages of The Oklahoman last week to sound the alarm about Oklahoma’s very serious educational-performance problems. “It appears policymakers, the education establishment, and even a vocal minority of parents in Oklahoma are in a state of denial when it comes to what’s happening,” they wrote.

Keating and Meacham outlined some practical, structural fixes. “Once these structural problems are addressed, only then should we have a serious discussion about increasing funding,” they added. “Oklahoma remains near the bottom in the nation on per-pupil expenditures for education. Clearly, we can’t underfund our way to excellence. But throwing money at a system that’s not working won’t change anything.”

They’re right. We know from federal data, for example, that only half of the money we’re throwing at the system is going to instruction. But sometimes it’s not even necessary to mine the spending data. Sometimes a simple thought-experiment is illuminating: