Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Newspaper says anxiety over third-grade testing is a red herring

"High-stakes testing isn't rare," The Oklahoman editorializes today. "It's routine."

It's easy to empathize with children worried about a reading test. But school is supposed to prepare students for the realities of life as an adult. The third-grade reading law helps do that. Social promotion, which implicitly condones illiteracy, does not.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Give parents and communities a voice in public education

[Guest post by Shirley Ford]

How often does a bill come along that genuinely places power back in the hands of local constituencies? And what does this bill have to do with fixing failing schools?

These questions are at the heart of Oklahoma Senate Bill 1001, the Parent Empowerment Act. If enacted, SB 1001 will return the right back to local parents to have a seat at the table in their chronically failing neighborhood schools.

Yes, this means current powers-that-be will have to share their government power with local citizens – parents, in this case. This is because SB 1001 empowers parents to proactively demand a better education for their children and force change through a petition campaign.

And this is precisely the work that we at Parent Revolution do across the nation to support parents who are fighting to ensure their community’s children get the high quality education all kids deserve.

Under the Parent Empowerment Act, if a majority of parents at a school sign a petition, the parents can demand either new school leadership, by bringing in a new principal and/or vice principal, or a charter conversion. Parents can even leverage the use of a petition campaign to demand the same type of moderate, teacher-supported improvements that current administrators already have at their disposal.

Parents and community leaders have been rallying throughout the state to support the Parent Empowerment Act. Despite the growing groundswell, the plan faces resistance and criticism from entrenched education interests, many of whom misunderstand the purpose of the bill and how it works on the ground. It is not unexpected considering the bill is a new tool for school improvement and will place more power directly in the hands of parents.

All of this begs the question: why fear the Parent Empowerment Act?

If a school is well-performing and students are learning, the school won't even qualify for parent petition and intervention. And if a school is failing, shouldn’t we take a different approach? Shouldn’t parents be involved, since studies have repeatedly shown us that student outcomes improve when parents get engaged? After all, we keep saying that parents need to be involved with their child’s education.

We know that all parents will place their kids as first priority in education policy decisions. As I’ve traveled around the state and heard directly from parents and community leaders searching for better options, they have expressed the need for a real opportunity to have their priority heard. Whether it is Oklahoma or any other state, I have heard this message time and time again from the community.

Why not give parents in poor performing schools the mandate to come together and become active participants in their local schools?

The Parent Empowerment Act is a limited but necessary tool to give parents hope wherever there are children trapped in failing schools. These kids can't wait for change. Their future – and ours as a nation – is at stake. The Parent Empowerment Act is wise public policy that will give parents the tools to demand better for their kids.

SB 1001 overwhelmingly passed the Oklahoma Senate but has been stalled in the House for the 2014 legislative session. This bill is an opportunity to improve public education and empowers parents to take a more active role in their children's education.

When the bill returns in the 2015 legislative session, we hope the Representatives and Senators will come to better understand and support the legislation.

To learn more about the Parent Empowerment Act and what you can do to help, visit http://www.okparentsact.org.

[Shirley Ford is Director of African-American Affairs and Community Engagement Officer for Parent Revolution. An original member of Parent Revolution’s staff, she was one of the preeminent organizers who was instrumental in the narrow passage of California’s Parent Trigger law – the first in the nation.]

Okla. officials looking into possible sexual misconduct

By a school security guard. Can't make this stuff up.

It's time for educational choice

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Not sure whether to laugh or cry

"Members of the Senate Education Committee decided last week that illiteracy should be no barrier to student advancement in Oklahoma public schools," The Oklahoman dutifully points out.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Quote of the day

"We, in this state right now, waste outrageous amounts of money on remediation for students that come out of high school with good grades but they're not ready for higher education."

Mike Neal, president of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce

Friday, April 4, 2014

PTA should 'stop the attack on our children'

For years school reformers have known that "PTA" stands for "Puppets for The Administration." But through the years the PTA seems to be getting even worse. It's time for the PTA to "stop the attack on our children," both in Florida and in Oklahoma.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Oklahomans favor charter schools, say competition will improve public schools

A new survey released by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates shows that Oklahomans favor the statewide authorizing of charter schools.

"While the study shows that many Oklahoma voters do not realize charter schools are public schools, they do believe that competition will improve public schools," says Pat McFerron, president of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates. "Oklahomans are united in their support for school competition and for expanding charter schools."

Jenks prepares for an active shooter situation

FOX 23 has the story.

Oklahoma teacher accused of making indecent proposals to students

"An elementary school teacher is suspended following multiple accusations of inappropriately touching students," News9 reports.

Says one parent: "It seems they are scraping the bottom for teachers."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Deer Creek mom speaks out against bullying

News9 has the story.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Superintendents compete for students

June Kronholz reports on districts of choice.

Oklahoma's largest newspaper defends tax-credit scholarships

The Oklahoman says lawmakers giving tax breaks to big business should certainly protect tax breaks benefiting poor children.

State lawmaker says education funding is up

During the last fiscal year $6.37 billion of common education financial transactions were put through the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS), says state Rep. Jason Murphey. "This is up from the $6.04 billion put through OCAS in the 2008-09 fiscal year."