Saturday, March 28, 2015

Profits in public education

Some defenders of Oklahoma's monopoly school system don't like public charter schools, and they really don't like (trigger warning!) "for-profit" charter schools. Something about the Koch brothers dispatching their evil minions to an ALEC meeting to club baby seals and privatize education for rapacious gain. In reality, however, only 10 to 15 percent of charter schools nationwide hire a for-profit entity to manage certain aspects of the school (the number is even lower in Oklahoma).

Fed up with these "nobody should make a profit from public education" sentiments, Dr. Terry Stoops at the John Locke Foundation decided to put together a partial list of those who make a profit from public education:

  1. Computer companies – all schools have computers, hand-held devices, and other hardware in them
  2. Software companies – those computers have software on them
  3. Furniture companies – kids gotta sit on something and write on something else
  4. School bus companies – until someone invents the Transporter, we’ll have to use buses
  5. Textbook companies – the Gideons have no school textbook equivalent
  6. School supply companies – pencils! pens! reams of paper! chemistry equipment!
  7. Instructional technology companies – those video and audio systems, e.g., Smart Boards, are not free
  8. Television companies – many classrooms come equipped with a TV (and sometimes a DVD player too)
  9. Landowners, Realtors, construction companies, contractors, and suppliers – building and maintaining schools requires working with (gasp!) for-profit businesses
  10. Food and beverage suppliers – think school lunches, vending machines, and snack bars
  11. Copier companies – copiers are teachers’ best friend or worst nightmare
  12. Athletic equipment – for physical education
  13. Musical instruments – for music education
  14. Art supplies – for art education
  15. Energy companies – many things run on electricity these days
Doubtless there are others, but you get the point. And I haven't even mentioned the one-percenter who's paid a third of a million dollars to preside over the woeful Tulsa school district. Talk about for-profit management!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jay teacher charged with lewd molestation

"Delaware County prosecutors have charged a coach at Jay Public Schools with two felony counts of lewd molestation," the News on 6 reports.

Economist is thankful for low teacher pay

"We should celebrate rather than bemoan the fact that teachers are paid less than the likes of CEOs, professional athletes, and movie stars," economist Donald J. Boudreaux writes in an open letter to Robert Reich.

Low teacher pay means that the number of people willing and able to work as K-12 teachers is already quite large. Precisely because education is especially important, we are blessed that so many people are willing to work as teachers that the cost to society of each teacher is relatively low. Given the number of school-age children, higher teacher salaries would be evidence that fewer people than is actually the case today are willing to work as teachers. That situation would be one to lament, not cheer.

In case you still don’t see my point, let me ask if you believe that the pay of physicians should rise. After all, healthcare, like education, is vitally important. So by your logic, we should artificially raise the pay of physicians in order to encourage more people to become doctors. Yet, of course, we want healthcare to be more, not less, affordable. The same is true for education. Unfortunately, the supply of physicians is so low that the resulting pay of physicians is unusually high.

So let’s be thankful rather than regretful that we don’t suffer the same problem in education that we suffer in healthcare. Let’s toast the fact that—as the relatively low pay of teachers reflects—a large number of people are today willing and able to work as teachers.

Oklahoma senator wants to close the school-predator loophole

"Here is a far too familiar scenario," writes state Sen. Kyle Loveless:

A teacher rapes a child, and both the teacher and student say it was consensual — even though it’s still legally rape and there are some cases where the victim is as young as 12. The school district and parents don’t want the public scrutiny so the district, parents of the victim and the predator agree that the perpetrator will no longer teach in that school district. Everyone agrees and the cover-up has begun.

The predator needs to keep working, so he or she moves to another school district that has no idea of the situation that led to the resignation; school districts can’t communicate with each other on personnel matters.

You can read his entire article here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Black parents are taking schooling into their own hands

Thousands of African Americans nationwide "are homeschooling their children and persuading other families to join in a growing movement," Jonetta Rose Barras reports in Washington City Paper. "They see their actions as a strong defense against what they consider an inadequate and increasingly hostile system of public education. For them, homeschooling also is a viable tool for constructing in their children a positive self-confidence and uncompromising appreciation for black history and culture."

Online public schools now enrolling for 2015-16 school year

Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Insight School of Oklahoma have now opened enrollment for students looking to attend in the 2015-2016 school year.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

School has let racial bullying continue

A frustrated grandfather tells his story.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Level the playing field

"A March 17 editorial supporting charter schools stated: 'Charter schools are public schools that are run with many of the benefits of private schools, including exemptions from many education rules and regulations,'" Chuck Bowlin of Broken Arrow writes in a letter published by the Tulsa World. "Why not do away with those 'education rules and regulations' for all schools?"

Accountability in private-school choice programs

Here's a new report from NCSL.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Teacher shortage? School choice can help

Oklahoma's "teacher shortage" is back in the news today, though not all reporters are equally panicked (Mike Antonucci, for one, urges readers to "check out all the previous iterations of teacher shortage alarmism.") And writing in a forthcoming issue of Perspective, education researcher Greg Forster writes:

As for the so-called teacher shortage, the unions have been inventing stories about a teacher shortage consistently for decades. The number of teachers can go up or down, it doesn’t matter; there’s always a shortage. If so, the best thing we can do is move students out of public schools, where the teaching profession is stymied by numerous union-backed barriers to entry, and into private schools that are free to hire talented young people into the profession.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Should parents support public schools to the detriment of their own child?

"What seemed painfully missing from Phil Horning’s “ESA bill not good for Oklahoma kids” (Point of View, March 11) was any substantial defense of the quality of education that public schools are providing to Oklahoma students," Peter Dobelbower of Edmond writes today in The Oklahoman.

Isn't the real purpose of the ESA bill to allow families an opportunity to send their children to better schools? Arguments that money will be taken from schools if ESA is enacted ring hollow. It might be true, but which choice do you think a parent should make: send their child to a better school, or support public schools to the detriment of their child?

Nature abhors a vacuum, and that void in quality education will be filled by the need for parents to have other options. The bogeyman argument does a disservice to the school system Horning serves. I really wish this law was unnecessary and that our public schools could compete, but until such time as they get back to basics and quit teaching things like lattice multiplication (yes, look it up!), the void will be filled by things like ESA.

Police searching for Tipton Public School employee accused of raping a 13-year-old girl

KSWO has the story.

'How the Oklahoma City Storm helped turned a big victory into a feel-good moment for both teams'

Terrific piece in The Oklahoman by Jenni Carlson.

UPDATE: Here and here are letters to the editor complimenting the article.