Archive

Posts Tagged ‘#oklaed’

Remember the Names (part 2)

November 16, 2017 2 comments

One thing educators just love hearing is that our schools should be run more like businesses. It’s a great politician line: If schools were run more like businesses…
…we’d be able to pay all the teachers $100,000 a year. Of course, there’d only be about five teachers for every 500 students, but still…

I hate the mindset of treating either the students or the content we teach as a commodity. Our district finance offices should be run more like businesses. We have millions of dollars come in and go out every year – mostly into payroll. We want to save money and run as efficiently as possible, but not at the expense of educating children.

I do wonder, however, about one thing that would be different if we operated more like the business world. Maybe we’d be able to wine and dine our legislators and get our way. We’d be able to post record profits and still complain to lawmakers that they’re trying to bankrupt us. As it is, we can show up with a crowd of 25,000 people who support public education and have no impact.

Sky Shot

All together now!

Oil and Gas producers can show up with a few charter buses and campaign-quality signs and kill legislation. I definitely wish in that sense, that we were more like big business. Clout has its privileges.

On the other hand, nobody ever tells schools, you should operate more like the legislature. Imagine what that would look like.

I’m going to leave the Senate alone for now. They seem to be functioning on a higher level than the House during this quite Extraordinary Legislative Session.

But that House…bless them. Bless them all.

Each of the past two Wednesdays, the House has voted on a bill to finish the job of implementing a budget that should have been finalized in May. Last week, they killed HB 1054, which would have raised taxes on cigarettes, gasoline, watered-down beer, and gross production. It would have raised salaries for teachers and state employees. It had the 75% of votes needed in the Senate, but it died in the House by a vote of 71-27.

This week, however, the House approved a budget that uses some one-time money to limit cuts. This plan, HB 1019, passed with a vote of 65-25. Critical agencies will still face cuts. Higher education loses over $17 million. Health care loses $15 million, DHS $4 million, and Mental Health another $4 million.

Simply put, this budget will cost people more than their livelihoods. It will cost some their lives.

HB 1054 wasn’t perfect. It had elements that everybody found distasteful. It’s what was needed, though. Since we live in a state in which 65 passes but 71 fails, this is what we get.

If you want to read more about yesterday’s discussion in the House, check out Claudia Swisher’s blog. All I’m going to do is give you a list showing how House members voted on each bill (and a brief thought about each group). You can determine for yourself how to characterize these representatives.

You can call it a Special Session Scorecard, or maybe a twisted version of the Meyers-Briggs personality test. Perhaps it’s a Rorschach test for who funds the campaigns of each group.

Yes on both

Babinec, Baker, Caldwell, Casey, Cockroft, Echols, Fetgatter, Ford, Frix, Hall, Hilbert, Jordan, Kannady, Kerbs, Lawson, Lepak, Martinez, McCall, McDaniel, McDugle, McEntire, Montgomery, Mulready, Murdock, Newton, Ortega, Osborn, Osburn, Ownbey, Park, Pfeiffer, D. Roberts, Russ, Sanders, Sears, Taylor, Vaughan, Wallace, Watson, J. West, T. West, Wright

Total: 42 Republicans, 0 Democrats

To me, this group of people looked at HB 1054 as a massive compromise and the best we could do given the circumstances. This week, maybe they felt less hopeful and just had to vote for something to get finished. I would guess a lot of the names above have lost confidence in many of their colleagues.

No on both

Kouplen, Proctor, Stone, Williams, Murphey

Total: 1 Republican, 4 Democrats

If you’re neither looking for solutions nor draconian cuts,  I honestly don’t know how to read you.

Yes on 1054, no on 1019

  1. Bennett, Blancett, Cannaday, Condit, Dollens, Dunnington, Fourkiller, Gaddis, Griffith, Hoskin, Loring, Meredith, Munson, Perryman, Renegar, Rosecrants, Tadlock, Virgin, Walke, Young, Humphrey, Thomsen

Total: 2 Republicans, 20 Democrats

Everybody who voted yes on HB 1054 sacrificed ideological purity to do so. This group didn’t feel like unclicking that button, I suppose.

No on 1054, yes on 1019

Calvey, Cleveland, Coody, Derby, Downing, Dunlap, Enns, Faught, Gann, Hardin, McBride, McEachin, Moore, O’Donnell, Ritze, S. Roberts, Strohm, Teague, K. West, R. West

Total: 20 Republicans, 0 Democrats

Well, people may die, but at least everybody’s third-quarter profits are safe.

Others

  1. Bennett – missed vote on HB 1054, Yes on HB 1019
    Inman, Rogers – No on HB 1054, missed vote on HB 1019
    Goodwin, Lowe, Nichols, Bush, Henke, Nollan, Worthen – Yes on HB 1054, missed vote on HB 1019

***Important Note*** I’ve checked and double-checked these votes. If you find any inaccuracies, please let me know.
Vote on HB 1054
Vote on HB 1019

Advertisements

Remember the Names

November 11, 2017 6 comments

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
-William Butler Yeats

This week while working, many Oklahomans found distraction watching a reckless, dangerous ordeal. It was a long and twisting journey, full of surprises. You could even call it the epitome of self-sabotage. Eventually, though it had a very predictable outcome: the Legislature once again failed to meet the needs of Oklahomans.

Oh, did you think I was talking about yesterday’s high speed chase in the OKC metro? I missed that. Too many meetings.

That was one guy making a series of bad decisions that ended with him being tazed and captured. Everyone watching knew that would happen. They just didn’t know what would happen first.

The story of this mess of a state started long ago. I could begin with 1992’s State Question 640, which severely limited the ability of the Legislature in a budget crisis such as this. Or maybe with Governor Fallin’s election in 2010. Or her re-election in 2014. For the sake of time, though, I’ll begin with the budget passed by the Legislature and approved in May.

A key piece of filling this year’s budget including passing a cigarette tax fee. Well, the Legislature called it a fee, but it was pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that it was a tax.

Predictably, on August 10th, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled as such. As the Oklahoman wrote at that time:

In an opinion that drew support from every justice, the court noted that the Legislature introduced four bills this year that would have created a similar cigarette “tax,” but the bills were abandoned because of little support. In the final week of session, lawmakers finally adopted the “smoking cessation fee.”

It was unanimous.

This created a huge budget hole and the need for a special session*. For weeks, we’ve seen half-measures and insults called compromises. Finally this week, the dam broke and something appeared to happen.

Senate Vote

The Senate voted on a bill – amended to include an increase to the Gross Production Tax – that had support of a majority of House members, just not the 75% required by the Oklahoma Constitution. It received support of all Democrats and all but five Republicans: Brecheen, Dahm, Daniels, Newberry, and Sikes. No surprises there. Any of those five making a conscious choice to help others would have been shocking.

Senate leader Mike Shultz said that this was a long-time coming.

This has been a source of frustration for years. On the other hand, Shultz favored every tax cut that has contributed to the recurring budget shortfalls that have led to our legislative leaders – metaphorically, of course – spinning their wheels in the middle of a field somewhere.

Since this technically wasn’t the bill the House sent to the Senate, it had to be renamed and sent to the House Budget Committee. There we saw a preview of what was coming Wednesday.

JCAB Vote

Now called HB 1054, the budget plan passed 19-6 out of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget Committee**. Calvey and Murphy voting no was as predictable as was the Oklahoma Supreme Court seeing through the tax/fee façade. Kouplen and Proctor, not as much.

Side note: Since the start of the extraordinary session, two legislators have announced they are leaving the House. Minority Leader Scott Inman is one. Apparently, Steve Kouplen is the new pick to lead the Democrats. Based on this week, maybe they should open the process and choose someone new.

This led to Wednesday, when the House spent two hours taking questions and another hour debating HB 1054.

I tried watching the live stream, when I could. I debated with other superintendents what the final vote would be. Few of us expected it to pass. In fact, most of us thought the final number of yes votes would be even lower than 71.

House vote

I follow several journalists during the high holy extraordinary sessions. Catherine Sweeney, Dale Denwalt, and Tres Savage are some of the best. I went through their Twitter feeds today to try to recapture what happened Wednesday. Here are some examples of their work:

Ok, aside from Calvey’s dizzying logic, he makes the point that we should audit everything and find waste, fraud, and abuse. On the other hand, this is Calvey’s sixth term in the Legislature. Before he represented Deer Creek, he represented Del City. He’s one of the state’s longest-tenured lawmakers. Why hasn’t he called for these audits before? Other than casting aspersions on public employees, what has he done?

These make me sad. I don’t understand people who say they support teachers and raises for teachers and then vote no when they have a chance to do something.

Let’s face facts: the 2017 legislative session is now six months into overtime. There has been no leadership and nothing resembling a plan. It shows. Holding the vote open for another hour trying to find more votes didn’t help either.

Honestly, listening to Perryman discuss the budget bill, I thought he’d vote against it. I’ve admired him for years. He’s a true populist and a great public servant. I was having a hard time reconciling all of that.

He voted yes.

This was also a clear breaking point for some. They’d raise taxes on consumers, but not producers. It was the hardest thing for me to swallow.

If you look at the names on those vote boards – the greens in particular – you see a lot of people who expended political capital by voting yes. They are Republicans who voted for tax increases on oil and gas companies. They are Democrats who voted for regressive taxes that disproportionately impact the poor. They are people who realized that ideological purity is no substitute for leadership. You can’t govern if you expect to get your way all the time.

Speaking of Roger Ford (R – Midwest City), he’s been blowing up the Facebook world lately. He’s called out House leadership and been more or less live journaling his frustration. Here’s a sample:

To all the people saying don’t give another dime to our agencies, until after they get audited. Well bless your heart! Audits don’t happen overnight. So I guess we shut Oklahoma down for a couple years while we wait. Audits are not in the scope of this special session, so once again it’s not happening! Why can people not get that? What is so hard to understand about that?

I watched a couple no vote legislators smiling and laughing as they exited, walking right past the disabled adults in the rotunda. Never stopping to see their faces. Your life goes on, but what about them?! You changed their world and don’t give a damn.

But in fairness at least they had the decency to walk past them after they voted no. Unlike the coward that snuck in the back door, gave another representative a thumbs down motion to vote for him and immediately walked out the back door. To that young man, everything I learned about you this past year has turned out to be true. You took great joy at throwing stones at others, while you yourself was living in a glass house. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.

To the ones that held out for a higher GPT, good luck! Any GPT increase drove off with the chartered buses that were parked in front of the Capitol all day. You get 2%, you get 2% and you get 2%. Yay everyone gets 2%! If we can’t get 7, let’s take home nothing! Brilliant idea!!!

Oh yeah, that’s right. There were charter buses there. Here’s a pic.

Oil and Gas Charter Buses

Enough people – in both parties – held to their principles. As a result, people will suffer.

It’s worth noting that this vote came exactly a year after the vote on State Question 779, which would have given teachers a $5,000 raise. This teacher raise would have been just $3,000, but still, teachers had hope.

hope red

With all due respect to the Shawshank Redemption, hope is painful. Hope is thinking that when the stolen truck you’re driving breaks free from the trailer behind you that you’ll be able to elude the police cars and helicopters that surround you. I woke up believing that it might pass. After all, it passed the Senate handily. We all want the same things, right?

Unfortunately, with all the posturing, grandstanding, guest appearances, and unmoored contempt in the House, again, we watched as nothing happened.

I can’t explain the people who sided with Cleveland and Calvey. One walked around the Capitol with a fart machine. The other once threatened self-immolation. I’ll let you google which is which.

I can explain what happens now.

See what you’ve done? I agree with the governor.

You can read the impact of our state’s legislative impotence from an adoptive parent:

Nine years ago, I stepped up and took a large financial burden off the state by adopting three older, traumatized children. In turn, the State agreed to provide certain resources that were minimal to begin with and have eroded over time. More cuts will come down the road if we don’t fix our systemic budget issues very soon. It looks as though lawmakers will probably be able to stave off cataclysmic cuts for now. But short-term measures like raiding the Rainy Day fund instead of making courageous decisions are what got us into this situation in the first place. Unless lawmakers sustainably raise revenues – as voters overwhelmingly want – these near-calamities will continue, and families like mine will bear the cost.

A mother of a disabled teen tried to get answers from legislators:

“We’re concerned, we’re worried,” Jones said as she met with Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City. “My son is the client of the Goodwill adult day center in Chickasha, and our understanding is that without a fix on this current budget crisis is that it will close. They will not be able to keep their doors open and there’s nothing else for my kiddo.”As she walked the hallways late Thursday afternoon, she hoped the legislators she talked with would understand and maybe change their “no” to a “yes.”

I have to say that one representative in particular caught my attention for her remarks on Wednesday.

It’s important to remember that over the summer, House Speaker Charles McCall stripped Leslie Osborn of her JCAB chairmanship because she spoke her mind:

Osborn’s removal comes one day after she and two other Republican state representatives criticized house leadership for comments made after the Oklahoma Department of Human services announced last week it was cutting $30 million in services because of a lack of funding from the state.

The men who opposed McCall, by the way, were stripped of nothing.

This all makes me wonder why the Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature don’t change leadership and find someone committed to helping the state. Nobody is entitled to those positions for the duration of their legislative service.

Osburn is right about one thing in particular. We really must remember who voted yes and who voted no on this. I’ve seen written explanations from members of both parties. I accept none of them.

Our system of government requires serious people who know what it means to lead. It requires voters who hold them accountable.


*Technically, it’s called an Extraordinary Session. Indeed it is that.
**Speaking of government inefficiency, I love this committee name.

Join tonight’s #oklaed chat: Stereotypes in Schools

August 27, 2017 1 comment

I’ve taken a little break from blogging (and from #oklaed chats) this summer. I’ll be tuning in tonight, however, as students from Del City High School take over the chat.

Nothing brings me more joy as a superintendent than watching our students lead. I’m constantly amazed at what Mid-Del students accomplish academically and through their extracurricular programs. Student leadership, though, is certainly one of our greatest strengths.

I found out via Twitter that they had volunteered to moderate tonight’s chat. I had nothing to do with the questions, and I won’t be over their shoulder as they lead and discuss. This is all their deal.

When we listen to students, we are at our best. I hope you will join tonight an let them lead us. This conversation is more important than pre-season professional football or Game of Thrones. Remember, you can record TV. It’s a thing.

See you at 8 tonight!

Standridge and Vouchers

February 28, 2017 4 comments

State Senator Rob Standridge will say or do just about anything to pass a voucher bill at this point. This week, he has sent his colleagues an 18 page backup document that includes letters of support for SB 560. Here are some highlights. First is from his letter:

Coming from an area of the state dominated by the left and those that think school choice should not be allowed for anyone, even for the poor kids of the inner city this legislation targets, I understand that this legislation is not easy.

This is a tremendous starting point. Standridge is from Norman, which now is apparently dominated by the left. Never mind that he won re-election in November facing an independent candidate and no Democrat. Facts really have no place here.

I have heard some say that if we could just spend more money in the failing schools in Oklahoma and Tulsa county that things would just turn around. I certainly support funding public education better, and as it is a condition of this legislation, giving our teachers a raise. But certainly we are not sure what level of funding will turn around our inner city schools which are failing, and if you look to the funding of inner city schools in Washington, DC…is there really an amount that will fix inner city schools and should we continue to wait for that to happen while kids pay the real price?

So is Standridge saying ALL inner city schools in the state’s two largest counties are failing? If so, then why is he pushing so hard for Cleveland County, where his children attend private schools, to get vouchers too?

And why doesn’t he want any accountability in the private schools that will educate the voucher students they will accept? If test scores are how he knows that inner city schools are failing him, then why won’t we be giving state tests to the students who take their vouchers and go private?

Believe me, I completely understand that OEA, CCOSA, and other left leaning organizations have convinced educators that school choice is a bad thing…

Skipping over the fact that Standridge believes all education organizations (except the ones who write bills for Senator Brecheen and a few other colleagues) are left leaning, he also makes the argument that educators are incapable of thinking for themselves. The OEA and CCOSA are bad, and they have convinced these weak minded people that choice is bad. But I want to give them raises. I really do!

Similar to the Civil Rights movement many decades ago led by Republicans, championed by Republicans, but lost to the media as an effort from the left…

Stop. Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself, Rob.

I would reiterate that the goal line for SB 560 is a thousand yards away, and possibly even years away, but please help me move this ball down the field so that, hopefully, we can provide opportunity for that young 9th grade boy or girl that without this scholarship life may pass them by.

Yes, this bill merely chips away at the edges of what Standridge and the other signers of letters in this packet really want: universal school choice.

Again, let me say that I’m not against school choice. Thousands of students in Oklahoma attend public schools in a different zip code from their residence. Some of our legislators, past and present, have enjoyed public school choice. We have charters. We have virtual school.

We. Have. School. Choice. Right. Now.

We just don’t have vouchers.

I spoke today with one superintendent who says that Standridge recently told him, They’re coming. Why not control the model? Or maybe I’m one of those gullible educators that the senator thinks will believe anything.

It’s also worth noting that Standridge has worked over the rural caucus promising them that vouchers to the state’s three most populous counties won’t hurt school funding for the rest of them. On the other hand, I’ve heard Standridge talk about the need to consolidate rural districts. That’s the same guy. Is he really looking out for your schools?

Senate Bill 560 would subsidize the private school tuition of more than 36,000 students in those three counties. Adding to the number of students currently served depletes funding for the rest of the districts. This would take money from 74 counties to subsidize the biggest three.

But it moves the ball incrementally down the field.

roy-williams-superman-play-o.gif

That’s not all. We also have support documentation from key allies. I won’t list them all, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a brief excerpt from David Barton and his fact-challenged Wallbuilders organization:

Nearly three-fourths of [Texas] citizens say they are not getting their money’s worth for what we are spending in education, and sixty-eight percent now want school choice, even in rural areas…I assume it is the same in Oklahoma.

…In Texas, there is a very aggressive push to increase salaries for educators, and our legislators are sympathetic to these demands. But at the same time, we cannot reward teachers or systems that underperform.

The playbook, if we are to extend the sports metaphor, is strongly anti-public education. And it’s nationwide.

To be clear, though, a voucher won’t provide a student with a meal or transportation. It won’t guarantee access to school choice. And it won’t have any fiscal or academic accountability.

With that said, I’m headed to Kamp’s for tonight’s school choice discussion. I hope I make the cut this time!

Please contact your senators and ask for a no vote on SB 560 tomorrow.

Calling all students (to tonight’s #oklaed chat)!

January 15, 2017 Comments off

Tonight I will be moderating the weekly #oklaed Twitter chat at 8 pm. I asked students I know (mostly from my Superintendent’s Advisory Board) to submit questions.

img_7591

They sent me over 30! I had a hard time eliminating them, so prepare yourself for a fast and furious ride.

If you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat, rest assured it’s easy. Just search for #oklaed and follow along. Jump in when you feel like it. Or lurk. Plenty of people show up and just watch it all happen.

If you are a high school or college student, I especially would love for you to join us. Your experiences and ideas need to guide our long-range planning more than anyone else’s. You’re the primary stakeholders in what we do.

Here are the questions, in case you want to think about your responses in advance. See you tonight!

Like Weiners at the Bar-S Plant

November 27, 2016 2 comments

As November comes to a close, and our newly-elected Legislature begins its charge of finding a way to close yet another budget hole, some among their ranks want to focus on a task that misses the mark entirely.

kyle-trusts-parents-eyeroll-emoji

Yes, instead of finding funds for public schools, Sen. Kyle Loveless is busy trying to find funds for private schools. He’s spent his entire first senate term on this task, and it looks as if his second will be no different.

I’ll give Loveless credit for one thing: he puts himself out there. You don’t really wonder where he stands. He loves to bait people, and for some of us, responding is a compulsion.

Judge if you want; I know I should walk away.

rick-responds-to-kyle

I hate the term school choice, mainly because it’s inaccurate. It’s a euphemism. It’s a voucher that people can apply towards private school tuition if either (a) they can afford the remainder of the tuition, or (b) the school chooses to waive the remainder of the tuition. It’s not choice because the school doesn’t have to accept the bedraggled child that Loveless and his ilk choose they want to save from the failing public education system they turn around and claim to want to help.

As to my friend Kenny Ward’s point on Loveless’s post that the poll has some bias because the pollster hates public education, well there’s some truth to that.

trolling-shapard

That was me trolling his Twitter feed yesterday. Then Bill Shapard, Jr. lashed out at the lot of us.

shapard-trolls-back

Look, guys! We’re number one! We even published an article about it one time!

Yeah, well #oklaed is number one too. In budget cuts, that is. It must be true. It was in the Oklahoman.

Oklahoma’s cuts to general education funding since 2008 continue to lead the nation, according to the latest report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Nearly 27 percent of state per pupil funding, adjusted for inflation, has been cut since 2008. That figure not only leads the nation but is nearly double the percentage of cuts made by Alabama, the second worst state for educating funding reductions.

Shapard feels the compulsion as well, I guess. He keeps attacking Tyler Bridges, Ward, and me.

shapard-and-the-wiener

Yes, he says he wants to open 12 Corn Bible Academy type schools in Clinton, and he compares public education to a wiener factory. That’s the guy running Sooner Poll. That’s the guy who claims his work is not reflective of his bias.

Maybe looking at the polling language would be instructive, then.

“Educational choice gives parents the right to use tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs. Some people favor educational choice because they believe that parents, not government officials, have the moral right to determine a child’s path. Other people oppose educational choice because they believe it drains money from public schools and allows only a select few students to choose a different school. Which viewpoint comes closest to your own?”

FAVOR — parents have the moral right to choose … 51.5%

OPPOSE — it drains money from public schools … 37.3%

UNDECIDED … 11.2%

First of all, the question compares two things. It should read, “Which viewpoint comes closer to your own.” As long as it’s an education question, a basic grasp of middle school grammar would be nice.

More importantly, the question is poorly worded. Whether that indicates bias or not is another question, but look at the two choices. Parents have the moral right to choose, and it drains money from public schools. Are those options mutually exclusive? Can’t a voucher be a moral right that also hurts the public schools?

It’s also incomplete information. I oppose vouchers for a number of reasons. As I said above, the number one reason is that the private school doesn’t have to accept any kid who shows up with a state aid check in hand. Yes, vouchers will deplete school funding. Yes, vouchers will go to schools that don’t face the same accountability measures as public schools. Yes…actually, if you want a great top ten list of reasons why vouchers are a bad idea, Steven Singer has a great one put together already.

I also question the phrase public or private school which best serves their needs. As Tyler Bridges stated in his response to Shapard this morning on Facebook:

Out of respect for many that I know at CBA I will not speak to their school, as they have great things going on and have great people out there. That being said, using their 1:7 ratio of staff to students, their very small student body, as well as their student makeup, is hardly a quality comparison Bill. My question would be this: if CBA took a representative sample of 100 students (which would more than double their enrollment) from Clinton PS (83% free/reduced, 15% poverty, 35% bilingual, 23% ELL) do you feel they are so much better at providing a quality education that they would continue to turn out the same product as they do now?

Private schools don’t face the number of variables that public schools do. Our students’ situations are often unpredictable. Shapard may be convinced that 12 schools like Corn Bible Academy in Clinton could do a better job than Clinton Public Schools do. According to CBA’s website, they serve about 80 students. Clinton has over 2,300 students. I’m not a statistician, like Bill Shapard, but I think it would take more than 12 CBAs to meet the need of Clinton’s students.

But I digress.

Shapard’s poll question puts the two options on unequal footing. He gives one moral standing. He gives the other a fiscal outcome. Wording matters, and he knows it. Just because a few hundred people who still answer their land lines pick (a) over (b) doesn’t mean it’s good public policy.

One positive thing about Loveless feeling he must constantly twist the fork in the back of public education is that we also see a clear illustration from those who hate public education about the toxic narrative they love to spew. Here are some examples of comments (with names removed) from Loveless’s post yesterday:

  • if everyone gets there 7-9 grand per year, the market will fill the need. Catholic schools have been doing it for 70% less for decades in the inner cities. And outperforming public schools substantially.
  • We’re not talking Heritage Hall and Casady. Go to any large city in the US and compare inner city Catholic schools with the public schools- they take anyone.
  • Let’s just cowboy up and admit that it is about the folks who work in education not wanting to admit that the system is failing but nobody wants to lose their job. For once, let’s just stop saying it’s about the kids…heard that for decades- it ain’t.
  • Believing that tax paying parents should have a choice in how their money is spent on their child’s education is not “hell-bent on destroying public education”. It’s actually the exact opposite.

I don’t know the cost of Oklahoma’s Catholic schools, but I do know the cost of attending any private school is two-fold: tuition and donations. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that tuition alone doesn’t fully fund private schools. They rely heavily on donations. If they start filling up with students attending on vouchers, their donations will decrease. The families using a voucher aren’t going to have the deep pockets their traditional students have.

And yes, I’m certain that we’re probably not talking about Casady and Heritage Hall. That helps prove my point though. No amount of politics and wordsmithing truly grants parents the choice of where to enroll their children.

I challenged the commenter who wants us to cowboy up to come into any of the Mid-Del Schools (after passing a mandatory background check) and tell all the staff that why they come to work is not about the kids. Crickets.

As for the last comment, we don’t all contribute the same amount. Whether it’s income tax, property tax, motor vehicle tax, or any other state revenue source, all of our contributions look different. Thus what we pay into the tax base that funds public education is different. We don’t get rebates for the services we don’t use. I haven’t needed the assistance of a highway patrolman for years (no matter what the one I met a couple of weeks ago thought). Still, I don’t get a rebate for not using their services. I also don’t get to re-allocate those funds elsewhere. That’s not how any state function works.

I’ve said for as long as I’ve thought about such things that I don’t care if you homeschool your kids or send them to private schools. That’s your choice. It may be the best thing for your kid. It’s not for me to decide. I just don’t think the money should follow the child. My business is managing the district’s resources for the kids we have now and the kids we’ll have in the future. Since about 90% of our budget goes to payroll, the vast majority of the investment is in the kids we have right now.

Loveless posted another article from Choice Remarks on his Facebook page last night. This one was titled “Nearly 4 in 10 Oklahoma teachers would choose private or home education for their own children.” One of my good friends, Pam Huston (a principal in Moore) posted the same article on Facebook, but with some major shade.

pam-huston-to-the-rescue

Above the article, she wrote:

This article could also be titled, ‘Over 65% of teachers surveyed agree that public charter schools are the least, or second to the least, favorable option for their own children.” It’s all in how the results are spun……results are posted in the comments below.

Below are the results:

poll-question

These are teachers responding. Of the four choices, teachers have public schools ranked one or two nearly 80% of the time. I think these results are basically a Rorschach Test. You see what you want to see. Yes, some teachers would love to put their kids in another school setting. Some teachers wish they could be home educating their children. I see no problem with that.

Choice Remarks is one of the many offshoots of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA). On a post-election blog, school choice kingpin Brandon Dutcher further discusses the argument for vouchers.

As we approach 2017, the taxpaying parents of 100,000 Oklahoma students, despite being compelled to pay for public education, have in effect said to public school officials: “Your product is sufficiently unattractive to us that you can’t even give it away.” Moreover, Oklahoma has enacted a private-school voucher program and a tax-credit scholarship program. And as we move ever closer to Rod Paige’s vision of universal school choice—by expanding our current programs, enacting ESAs, providing for individual tax credits, and more—I suspect the vindictive resentment will grow.

Dutcher fails to note, then, that 700,000 students remain in public schools. If the 100,000 are dissatisfied, then the 700,000 must be content, right? Of course not. Neither of those assumptions are necessarily valid.

As for the vindictive resentment, yeah, it’ll grow. Keep characterizing public schools as failures, and we’ll resent you. Keep scheming ways to further deplete school funding, and we’ll resent you. Keep using poor measures of school effectiveness and ignoring the effects of poverty on learning, and we’ll resent you. This is no surprise. I won’t shy away from it. I doubt my blogging peers will either. I’ll keep saying, I’m sorry you’re upset, and you’ll probably keep saying the same thing. Neither of us will mean it.

The charge of the choice brigade approaches. Soon, it will have a new standard bearer: future Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. I haven’t spent a lot of time looking her up, but Rob Miller has:

For the past 15 years, DeVo$ has used her family money and influence to push an agenda to transfer public tax dollars over to unaccountable for-profit corporations. We know she will promote education savings accounts (ESAs) and other vouchers schemes and that she will work to funnel public money to church-sponsored schools.

To steal from the latest Geico commercials, “it’s what she does.”

If you recall, Bet$y DeVo$ has spent the past few years serving as the Chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), an organization which has as its vision “the transformation of public education by breaking down barriers to educational choice.”

Among other political activities, AFC has worked in the shadows to fund the legislative campaigns of hundreds of school-choice proponents across the nation. In recent years, they were the ones who contributed to the successful Oklahoma mudslinging campaigns against Melissa Abdo in 2014 and Lisa Kramer this year, just to name a few.

With the head of the Amway empire running education, we won’t just be getting school choice; we’ll be getting a voucher pyramid scheme extraordinaire!

pyramid

People like Loveless will sidle up to everything ALEC, OCPA, Choice Remarks, Sooner Poll, and the like throw out there. Because he won re-election in June and didn’t have to run a general election race, he has had a five month head start on trolling public education.

Meanwhile, others in the Legislature are busy trying to craft a budget to help all state agencies. Some even want to fund public schools, rather than finding ways to fund private ones.

November 8th was a disappointment for many of us in the #oklaed community. I get that. Nonetheless, we must keep fighting. If we don’t, the future is easy to predict.

Halfway Nowhere

October 9, 2016 3 comments

In case you missed it while following the non-stop coverage of Donald Trump’s obscenities and vitriol, our governor issued an official proclamation this week for the state’s oil and gas industry.

Oilfield Prayer Day.jpg

I get it. She finally realizes that handing the energy producers an endless stream of tax cuts and credits has not helped the state’s economy, and she has one hope left. Pray.

I’m all for prayer. Residents from our state celebrate many faiths and worship in a variety of ways. Sure, her proclamation ignores many of these people and most of the faiths, but that’s ok. We’re Oklahoma. We don’t need diversity, right?

Fine, the exclusivity of her proclamation bothers me. So does the fact that under her leadership for the last six years, our state’s economy has continually worsened. Prayer and faith are great things, but they’re no substitute for a functioning government. Without a plan for how our state can diversify the economy or properly fund core state services, no amount of prayer is going to change the direction we are going.

I’m going to assume that our state leaders – along with the majority of Oklahomans – have been praying for all sorts of prosperity prior to now. That’s not what’s we’re missing. If our governor and Legislature had been doing their jobs during the last six years, maybe we wouldn’t be in a cycle of budget holes that worsen each year.

Prayer doesn’t change the fact that our leaders are patching problems with one-time money and taxes disguised as fees. Faith in God does not excuse us from the need to understand math. If you lower taxes, you have less money to fund schools, health care, roads, bridges, foster care, and corrections.

After six years with one party leading everything in the state – you’d think they could work together to make Oklahoma great again more prosperous. They haven’t. That’s why SQ 779 – the penny sales tax – had to happen. Nothing else was. Oh, those of us who support public education have been praying aplenty – for anything that would stem the tide of teachers leaving the state and the profession.

Right now there aren’t enough monestaries in Tuscany to make some of our teachers stick around. Maybe the governor’s next proclamation will be to ask for a day of prayer for the future of our schools. I’m not holding my breath.

Instead, I’m planning. I’ll be voting in less than a month for SQ 779 and for some new faces at the Capitol. November 8 can’t come soon enough.

%d bloggers like this: