Sunday, November 23, 2014

Think tank exec: It's time for ESAs

It's time to move Oklahoma’s K-12 school financing system "out of the dark ages," Jonathan Small writes today in The Oklahoman.

It’s time for the educational option that best suits students and their parents or guardians to be an option — just like in Medicaid, welfare assistance, transportation, higher education and numerous other state services where funds follow the person who needs the service. This is why the state should implement education savings accounts.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A 16-year-old girl should not be raped in a Norman High bathroom during lunchtime

As is alleged.

[Warning: Parental discretion is advised.]

Students, faculty evacuated from Moore High School

The Associated Press has the story.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ben Carson to address Oklahoma homeschoolers

Dr. Ben Carson (pictured above with me and one of my favorite Oklahoma homeschoolers) will be speaking on February 10, 2015, at the 30th annual Capitol Day, which is sponsored each year by the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consociation (OCHEC). Learn more here.

The future of parent information

This week on Oklahoma City's FOX 25, state Superintendent-elect Joy Hofmeister made the point that it's important for parents to have good information so they can make good decisions about what schools to choose for their children.

What kinds of information exist to help parents make those choices? Fordham Institute president Michael Petrilli yesterday hosted a panel discussion exploring that very question, and Oklahoma's own Damon Gardenhire was one of the panelists:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Police investigating sexual assault allegations at Choctaw Middle School

News 9 has the story.

'Landmark' charter school plan approved

The state Board of Education today approved a charter school plan for two juvenile detention facilities.

Union power?

Journalist Patrick McGuigan reports that members of a powerful school-employee labor union tried to topple state Rep. Jason Nelson. They were unsuccessful.

School choice heals religious divisions

Writing in the Edmond Sun, Dr. Greg Forster explains.

Rescue a child, get a generous tax break

In the Tulsa World, Charlie Daniels, vice president of the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, explains how the Frammis Widget Co. saved the Poore kid.

Hofmeister: 'I have a very open door when it comes to all forms of school choice'

Does Joy Hofmeister favor parental choice in education?

It's hard to say. Certainly the case can be made that she does not. She is, after all, part and parcel of Oklahoma's educational statist quo (and the particularly nettlesome Jenks branch at that). "My commitment, and the reason I actually ran, is I believe there’s an attempt to privatize public schools," she says. So, not exactly Scott Walker stuff.

Nevertheless, she did run as a Republican (that's how one gets elected in Oklahoma), so she is forced to acknowledge and deal with the ramifications of doing so. Her supporters overwhelmingly — and I do mean overwhelmingly — favor parental choice. Thus, Mrs. Hofmeister is on record saying she supports the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program. And the tax-credit scholarship program. And the prospect of Education Savings Accounts.

To her great credit, Mrs. Hofmeister affirms that parents "are the most important person in the life of their students' education," as you can see below in an interview which aired this week on KOKH FOX 25 in Oklahoma City. "It's a parent's responsibility to educate their children."

She's right. Indeed, as Professor Jay Greene has noted, in a free society the government rightly defers to parents when it comes to raising their children. And since education is simply a subcategory of parenting, the government should defer to parents when it comes to educating their children. "The state's role and authority to foster the well-being of children is a subsidiary one," writes Melissa Moschella, an assistant professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America, "meaning that it is secondary to the role of the parents, and serves the function of helping parents in their educational task, not usurping or undermining the parents' educational efforts.

Parents should not be forced, for financial reasons, to send their children to schools in which the values taught conflict with those they want to pass on to their children. An effective voucher or scholarship program of some sort is therefore also a requirement of parental rights.

One doubts that Mrs. Hofmeister would go that far. However, "as a state superintendent, my goal is to be able to stand with parents in supporting their decisions for the best learning environment for their own children," she says in the interview below. And what might those decisions be? Well, a Braun Research survey released this year asked Oklahoma parents what type of school they would select in order to obtain the best education for their children. While 33 percent of Oklahoma parents said they would select a traditional public school, 38 percent said they would choose a private school, 14 percent said home school, and 7 percent said charter school.

"We certainly want to support any kind of choice that works for kids and the best student outcomes," Mrs. Hofmeister says. "That’s what I am for. I have a very open door when it comes to all forms of school choice, but I also think that a focus for the state Department of Education — of public instruction — is to focus attention right now on our neediest of schools and make certain that the school around the corner is also a top choice."

Fair enough. If I'm a GOP politician, but also a Jenks insider and a longtime supporter of the monopoly system, that's pretty much how I'd finesse it. The good news is that the empirical research is clear on one way to fix those neediest of schools. Dr. Greg Forster recently surveyed the empirical research on school choice 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."

I have no doubt that Mrs. Hofmeister wants what is best for children. Here's hoping for a successful 2015 (and beyond) for her and her team.

Republicans ♥ parental choice

The Republican party platforms, both nationally and in Oklahoma, place a strong emphasis on parental rights and educational choice. Here's an excerpt from the 2012 national Republican platform:

Parents are responsible for the education of their children. We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to education and [we] support providing broad education choices to parents and children ...

Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a personal and cultural identity. That is why education choice has expanded so vigorously. It is also why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have not succeeded, but they have done immense damage. …

School choice — whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits — is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools. Getting those youngsters into decent learning environments and helping them to realize their full potential is the greatest civil rights challenge of our time.

A young person’s ability to achieve in school must be based on his or her God-given talent and motivation, not an address, zip code, or economic status.

The Oklahoma Republican Party platform also picks up on this theme of family preeminence:

We believe that the family is the cohesive element that maintains social order and protects individual rights. The duty and privilege of nurturing our young people belongs to parents and the traditional family. We support the sole right and responsibility of parents to rear, educate, discipline, nurture, provide healthcare, and spiritually train their children without government interference.

It is the right and responsibility of parents to direct their children’s upbringing and education — whether public, private, charter, or home school — without interference, regulation, or penalty from the government. … [W]e support the creation of a free-market education system. … We believe all parents should be allowed to use their education tax dollars for the family’s choice of schooling.

And it's not just the party platforms. Survey data show that Oklahoma's GOP voters do in fact favor educational choice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Virtual school enrollment increasing

Here's an informative story from OETA.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lawmakers look for ways districts can save money

"The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education held an interim study Wednesday on ways Oklahoma's school districts can save money," according to The CEO Briefing, a weekly update from Fred Morgan, president and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma.

Heather Kays, education research fellow with the Heartland Institute, said districts can share administrative and capital costs regionally to provide the benefit of scale. She also outlined studies finding school choice achieved educational benefits while spending taxpayer money more efficiently.

Brent Bushey also spoke. He's executive director of the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC), a nonprofit that provides member school districts with programs aimed to stretch funding dollars. Those include financial management, instructor training, technology systems management and legal services.

Senator Kyle Loveless, who requested the interim study, emphasized that even a little wasteful spending by a school district can have a big impact on the budget when multiplied over 500+ school districts. Senator Loveless encouraged more discussion and urged subcommittee members to move forward to find solutions.