Law professor Andrew Spiropoulos and I tackle that question today in a blog post for the Friedman Foundation.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
This according to the indispensable Mike Antonucci, who has the latest membership numbers here. He reports that, as of the end of the 2012-13 school year, the Oklahoma Education Association had 19,551 active members (employed teachers, professionals, and education support workers).
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In this column in the Edmond Sun, I review some of the data from a recent Tarrance Group survey which finds that GOP voters in Oklahoma strongly support private-school choice.
Interestingly, the Tarrance survey found that those voters backing Joy Hofmeister for state school superintendent favor educational choice by a wide margin (69 percent favor, while only 25 percent oppose).
Hofmeister supporters favor the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships (72 percent to 20 percent), the Equal Opportunity tax-credit scholarships (68 percent to 21 percent), and Education Savings Accounts (57 percent to 33 percent). At a July 17 meeting of the Muskogee County Republicans and Conservatives Club, Hofmeister told Jamison Faught, editor of MuskogeePolitico.com, that she supports all three of those educational-choice mechanisms.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
"When I look ahead to the schools of 20 years from now, what I see are institutions that not only will be more diverse, but will in every way look and function differently from the schoolhouses of today," writes Margaret Spellings, who served as secretary of education from 2005 to 2009.
Ms. Spellings, writing recently in the 125th anniversary edition of The Wall Street Journal, predicts that
Parents, for one, will have access to the flow of data, allowing them to help their children find the education that best fits them. Buyers, meaning the parents and students, will be in control of the education, selecting from an à la carte menu of options. Gone will be the fixed-price menu, where a student attends a school based upon geography and is offered few alternatives. Students and their parents can take their state and federal dollars and find an education that best suits them.
For many Americans, this revolution will mean home schooling. For others, it will mean accessing coursework online at any time. For all students, this will mean more individualized learning. ...
From early ages through college, data and information will guide students and parents through this new world. They will look for the best education options like travelers today look for a Trip Advisor rating.
The only reason we will not reach this better place is if the status quo prevails. But the market-oriented forces that have changed so much of our world — competition, customization, technology, modern management, and customer focus — are too powerful for even an entrenched educational establishment to resist.
Ron Matus has the details.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I'll never forget something I read many, many moons ago, around the time Lincoln was starting first grade. "After a combined total of forty years in education," wrote Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, "we have come to one simple conclusion: if you want your child to have an excellent education, you need to take charge of it yourself. You don't have to reform your entire school system. All you have to do is teach your own child."
Through the years I have frequently had occasion to reflect on that thought. Usually it's when there's trouble in socialist paradise — not just your everyday run-of-the-mill trouble, but something that borders on the farcical. Today, for example, The Oklahoman provided a helpful summary of how Oklahoma state officials plan to begin developing new academic standards. Enjoy:
To develop new academic standards, a steering committee composed of several state government education officials will appoint four executive committees of up to 21 members apiece.
The executive committees will include everyone from parents to tribal leaders to business leaders. Then, 28 Standards Creation Teams, comprising mostly teachers, will draft the new standards with input from executive committees.
And then, Draft Review Committees, which can include Oklahomans from all walks of life, will examine standards.
Throughout the process, 12 Regional Advisory Committees will gather community input. Later, an Assessment Design Committee will review standards content, alignment from grade to grade, and assessment design and structure.
Proposed standards will then be submitted to 45 days of public comment. After that, the state Board of Education will have to approve the standards. ... [And] all the aforementioned work can then be thrown out the window on a legislative whim.
To which I can only respond:
As a policy wonk, I will leave the committees and the bureaus and the five-year-plans to those who still don't trust the free-enterprise system. I will continue to emphasize the one reform which the empirical evidence consistently shows improves student performance in the government-operated schools.
But as a parent, I'm exceedingly grateful for the truth expressed so well by Jessie Wise and her daughter: "You don't have to reform your entire school system. All you have to do is teach your own child."
"We've got kids in 11th and 12th grade who can't read at a third-grade level," says Eddie Evans, Youth Services of Tulsa's director of north Tulsa programs. "How'd they get there?"
That's not a rhetorical question. I would honestly like to know how they got there.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The state's largest newspaper is rightly concerned that "the new director of a panel charged with setting the passing grade for state tests has opposed efforts to raise the academic bar in Oklahoma." The Commission for Educational Quality and Accountability recently announced that Duncan superintendent Sherry Labyer has been hired as its executive director. "Labyer has been a vocal critic of education reform in Oklahoma," the paper notes, "opposing many transparency and accountability measures."
Labyer cheered lawmakers when they overrode Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of a reading proficiency bill this year. Thanks to the override, schools can now socially promote third-grade students shown to be illiterate on multiple measurements over several months. Nearly one-third of third-graders in Labyer’s district weren’t reading at grade level. Labyer also opposed A-F grades for school sites. Of seven graded schools in her district, none got an A. Two received Bs, four got Cs and one got an F.
Perhaps most troubling is that Labyer criticized state officials for increasing cut scores on state tests. To pass the Biology I end-of-instruction test, high school students previously had to answer just 52 percent of questions correctly. That’s been raised to 70 percent, which is hardly unreasonable. Labyer’s objection to such minimal standards is worrisome: She will have a major role in setting future cut scores.
For years, Oklahoma was notorious for having a state testing system so lax that it produced wildly inflated results. In 2009, a study funded by the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition noted a gap in student achievement on state tests compared with National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, saying the gap was “particularly large in Oklahoma, compared to other states.”
Although 94 percent of fourth-grade students in Oklahoma were graded proficient on the reading and English portion of the state test in 2007, NAEP tests found that just 27 percent of students were truly proficient. For eighth-grade math, 77 percent were graded as “proficient and above” on state tests, compared with 21 percent on NAEP.
One major cause of the gap was that state officials set cut scores extremely low to inflate “proficiency” rates. There’s still a significant gap today, making the case for education reform even more compelling.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
I've mentioned before that I don't understand all the fuss about being a state-certified teacher. And in a new essay, Gary North reminds us that, umm, Sal Khan "was never formally certified as a teacher."
Khan has proven that 100+ years of educational theory is wrong. With no training whatsoever in a formal program of education, he became, almost overnight, the most important teacher in the history of the world. The teachers' union can scream bloody murder, but it won't do any good. His program is clearly better than anything that the typical tax-funded public school has to offer.