Monday, September 29, 2014

October 13 is Home School Day at the Oklahoma History Center

Click here for more information.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Does the Putnam City school district need M-16 assault rifles?

I'm not sure why the government-run schools in Putnam City need M-14 and M-16 assault rifles, though I suppose we should be grateful that no Oklahoma school district has (yet) stocked up on grenade launchers or mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. I guess schools are truly starting to realize that, as education reporter Mike Antonucci quipped, there's a war going on.

'Early childhood education' is not synonymous with 'government early childhood education'

On the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, Pat McGuigan reminds us that parents and private schools can serve as early childhood educators.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Not just a river in Egypt

Oklahoma's latest A-F report cards are out, and many in the public-education community are up in arms. Not about the disappointing results, mind you, but about the report cards themselves. But as The Oklahoman notes in an excellent editorial, at this point denial just looks silly.

Here’s the problem for critics of A-F school grading: Numerous independent measurements also suggest Oklahoma is failing many students.

Just 22 percent of Oklahoma graduating seniors in 2014 demonstrated college and career readiness in all four core subjects on the ACT college entrance exam — English, reading, science and math — according to ACT's 2014 Condition of College and Career Readiness report. And roughly one-fourth of seniors didn’t take the ACT.

A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report gave Oklahoma failing grades for academic achievement, academic achievement by low-income and minority students, and international competitiveness. Oklahoma also got D’s for post-secondary and workforce readiness, parental options and data quality.

The “Quality Counts” report from Education Week found just 13.6 out of every 100 Oklahoma students taking advanced placement tests achieve a high score. That’s about half the national average.

The percentage of Oklahoma students rated “proficient” or better on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests for reading and math in the fourth and eighth grades is below the national average, in some cases substantially lower. Students in neighboring Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri outperform Oklahoma students in NAEP math and reading proficiency. And a much larger share of students in Arkansas and Texas achieved high AP scores.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 39 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates who attend college take at least one remedial course (meaning they have to retake high school classes).

Those wishing to serve in the military must achieve a minimum score on the ASVAB test to enlist. A 2010 Education Trust report, which examined ASVAB results from 2004 to 2009, found that 23.2 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates (including 39.5 percent of black students) failed. 

Other measurements could be cited — when stacked up internationally, for example, Oklahoma's schools are even worse than you think — but the point is made. The monopoly schools have a long way to go. And as The Oklahoman notes, "Denial is a poor battle plan for school improvement."

Bullied 8-year-old leaves Oklahoma City school in middle of day, no one notices

KOCO has the story.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Avoiding government regulation

Parental choice is possible, writes University of Oklahoma graduate Allan E. Parker, Jr., "without destructive government control of private schools."

The continuing growth of charter schools ...

... could greatly diminish private education, Matt Ladner writes.

GOP official says more money won't fix Oklahoma's education problems

Oklahoma national committeeman Steve Fair says money is not the answer.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Another year, another wake-up call

In 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a report, “Leaders & Laggards,” which gave Oklahoma’s public school system an “F.” The report said “student performance in Oklahoma is very poor — the state ranks among the lowest in the nation.” This sobering news prompted Oklahoma State University regent Burns Hargis to remark, “If this report is not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.”

Well, the 2014 edition of “Leaders & Laggards” was released last week, and once again Oklahoma earned an “F” for academic achievement. “Student performance in Oklahoma is very weak,” the report says.

“I am unfortunately not surprised by Oklahoma’s poor showing in this study,” said Jennifer Monies, executive director of the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative. “I hope that our failing grade in academic achievement will serve as a wake-up call to all Oklahomans that we must do something now to improve Oklahoma’s educational outcomes.” I agree, though one also has to appreciate state Superintendent Janet Barresi’s observation: “It would be tempting to label this a ‘wake-up call,’ except that alarm bells have been going off for many years.”

For his part, Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, called the results “disappointing,” and renewed the call for more government spending on Oklahoma’s failed monopoly system. (If that surprises you, it shouldn’t.) But increased spending would be an unwise use of scarce resources, given that there is essentially no link between state education spending and student performance:

I have been issuing my own wake-up call for 20 years now, and will take this opportunity to do so again. Policies which give parents more educational options have the added benefit of improving public schools. Dr. Greg Forster reviewed the literature and found that 23 empirical studies “have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools.”

To repeat: school choice improves public schools. Rather than once again hitting the “more government spending” snooze button, policymakers should respond to this latest wake-up call with robust school-choice policies.

[Cross-posted at OCPA]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rural families and school choice

Over at the Friedman Foundation blog, Andy Smarick and Ellie Craig give six reasons rural families should (and can) have school choice.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Legal precedent is on the side of Oklahoma's disabled students

Law professor Andrew Spiropoulos discusses the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship litigation here.