Why another OklaEd blog?

Mission Statement

Oklahoma Education Reality Check is meant to promote clear thinking about education in particular and fiscal issues in general that will encourage better policy decisions.  Better fiscal policy will not be difficult since our current policy is a disaster.

This at times will irritate and perhaps anger some.   But not always the same interest groups.

Facts will be checked with best practices and tenacious pursuit of the deeper truth.  For instance, After reading deep into the  appendices and footnotes available on the original Common Core dot org website it can easily be determined that the standards had never been piloted or tested in a classroom with actual students.   There were a lot of layers and a lot of fluff, but in the end it was beyond doubt.   Since the adoption of the standards occurred before they were completed the lack of a pilot program was not surprising.  But it was in direct conflict with claims on the CommonCore(dot)org web site that the standards were “researched based” and explains the use of the meaningless phrase “informed by research.”

Feedback is welcome.   The views expressed are subject to change if new facts are uncovered.

Where is this blog coming from?  There are agendas and they are not hidden.

A Unique Perspective

Lifelong Republican – Not just a voter, but a campaigner and activist.  I began my political career as an active campaigner for Ronald Reagan and Senator Don Nickles.

Career teacher in, literally, K-12 public schools in Oklahoma

Active in state professional organizations and school committees outside the classroom and school buildings.

Guiding principles:

Teaching is a stressful, difficult, time-consuming job

Teacher pay is important

Teachers in Oklahoma are overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated.   Shame on us for all three

Teachers should help teachers – Teachers are made, not born. Big time improvements come when good teachers mentor and less experienced teachers seek guidance.  This will go much farther than punitive evaluations and firings which can easily make the situation worse.  We all know of schools that have fired a coach only to realize that a better coach is not interested in their school.

Educators should have input in school policy at all levels. They deserve to be heard.   But most teachers would really like to teach!   They rely on others to run their schools well and provide adequate pay, budgets, and facilities so that they can teach.

Teachers have been insulted, belittled, and demonized and have very little influence in Oklahoma politics. Parents, concerned citizens, and individual educators must communicate with their political representatives if change is going to happen.  Too many politicians do not listen to teachers.   Others must carry the battle.

Many education reforms have not been tested. We should let other states experiment

You get what you pay for. 50 is not OK.  It is great to eliminate waste, but there are expensive mandates in Oklahoma education that come from both the state and federal government that are often wasteful.  Passing wasteful mandates and then cutting budgets is foolhardy.

Schools should be fiscally responsible but the reality is that schools are severely underfunded.  There is NOT plenty of money if we just focus on the classroom.   If this was ever true, it is not true now.

Vouchers, For-Profit Charter Schools, and Non-School Board  Charter Schools all have an unsatisfactory track record both in terms of education and fiscal corruption.

N0t-for-profit charter schools established by a local board of education are accountable to the board and to local taxpayers.  If managed correctly they can be effective schools.

After observation for close to forty years it is obvious to me that the faulty political strategies of the OEA/NEA have contributed to the problem.  Most of the PAC money has been wasted.  Poor tactics and ineffective strategies have contributed to the decline in the percentage of classroom teachers (less than 20% in most southern states) and diminished the effectiveness of the unions as representatives of the teaching profession.  The Common Core debacle is just the latest miscalculation by the NEA.  This will make some unhappy, but it could help if taken to heart.  Look for more elaboration.

There is a wing of the Republican Party of today which out of touch with reality and with voters when it comes to education funding and reforms. Some of the problem is misleading information which is repeated ad nauseum. On one hand expensive reforms are passed into law that require additional expenditure of school funds while school funds are cut.  The same wing of the party is out of touch with economic realities in general governing on the basis of “theory” and not solid economic practices. (The second post will address this.)

If students, families, and communities are disengaged in the school it is very hard to teach them and the curriculum does not matter. This is, ultimately, why Common Core, Value Added, and other modern reforms will fail. It is why NCLB failed.  It is all about the problem of motivating all students to engage in school.

The Republican party totally got it right with the repeal of Common Core. Thank you for getting that one right.

Home schools and private religious and secular schools have an important role.  On the other hand,  no matter what promises are made, both are treading on a slippery slope if they take government money.   Any observer of politics in the United States will expect government strings (mandates, if you will) to follow sooner or later.  When it happens, whether it is the result of legislative action or a court decision (my prediction) it should surprise no one.    If vouchers are implemented I would expect the process of attaching strings to take long enough that the money would be integrated into the process to the point that many “private” schools would have no choice but to accept the mandates in lieu of big budget cuts.   There is litttle difference between public and private universities in the amount of political correctness for this reason.

And, lastly, if improving the quality of education was simple and/or easy then our schools would have been “fixed” long ago.  Any pat pet quick and easy idea for school improvement would be better used as fodder for the compost heap.  It is important to encourage experimentation and innovation at the local level rather than prescribe one national curriculum and one set of best practices tested by examinations based on same.

Perhaps everyone is already irritated.

More to come……

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2 thoughts on “Why another OklaEd blog?

  1. I saw many homeschool failures come into public school when I was teaching and it wasn’t until my last couple years at Webster that I saw one great success. Then once I was at home from teaching and started to be curious about homeschooling, I serendipitously I met many families who homeschooled and they were great kids, often ahead of their public school peers. The freedom to fail is the risk of giving people to freedom to thrive, and public schools are the alternative when home schools fail, whatever the reason. Oklahoma is the best state for homeschoolers because of the free reign parents have over the education of their own children. Imagine that… Oklahoma does not assume ownership of the education of the children living here. It’s even in our state constitution. So yes, when talk of state money being used for home and private schools comes up I get nervous. I agree the system isn’t equitable for private school and homeschool families who are taxed for services they do not personally use, but in a way we all benefit from at least the attempted education of those who would otherwise be left to rot in front of a tv or worse. Local control is better because sensitivity to needs is increased and the response can be swift and appropriate. I don’t want to be subject to public school (aka government) control over the education of my chikdren, at least not yet. If/when we send them to school, we understand the tradeoff of control over their education, not to say we can’t be involved, but we are not in charge of choosing curriculum etc. So regarding public education, we have lots of examples of what does not work. Too bad we can’t roll back the calendar a couple decades knowing what we do now!

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. People are taxed all the time for things they do not use. I have never had a house fire. I only drive on a few roads. But the services are there for those who need them. If parents get their share of taxes for education it would indeed be a small amount of money.

      While there are home school parents who would take the vouchers/ESAs, there are others who oppose them. I was told by home schooling parents that the Tebow law did not gain traction in Oklahoma because home school parents did not want it. At least some did not.

      My son is getting his PhD this spring. He is going to be teaching at the university level and I can’t wait to say where when everything is final. His public school education did not seem to hold him back.

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