Thursday, May 31, 2007

Making a Difference in a Student's Life

One of the benefits of being a teacher is to have a former student come back and thank you for making a difference in their life. The praise usually comes a few years down the road and the compliment is one of the most gratifying experiences one can receive.

Ladean Kendrick, of Stillwater, received those accolades when former student McClain Robinson submitted his essay to the "Why Eskimo Joe's Should Celebrate My Teacher." The first sentence in McClain's winning entry says it all: "Eskimo Joe's should choose to celebrate teacher Ladean Kendrick, because seven years ago she changed the course of my life." For the rest of McClain's essay and information about the contest go to

I want to say "Thank you" to Ladean and all of the other great teachers in Oklahoma who are making a difference in the lives of their students.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Time Magazine-How to Fix No Child Left Behind

This is a good article. My favorite part: " Most important, federal policymakers need to listen hard to the people who are working in the nation's schools every day. It's the only way to ensure that policies that sound great in Washington aren't leaving educational reality behind."

For the complete text go to,9171,1625192-1,00.html.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

My Dad, a World War II veteran, died too young. He was 57. Dad never met Katherine, Samantha, and Michael.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Flawed Research Department-Voucher Savings Grossly Exaggerated

This isn't a surprise to anyone against vouchers.

Even if questionable findings are accepted, they represent only miniscule reductions in public school costs.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A recently released report published by the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation claims that school choice programs which subsidize private school attendance with public funds have, cumulatively over 15 years, “saved” taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars. But a new review of that report concludes the claims of savings are misleading, oversimplified and, even if accurate, insignificant – less than 1/100th of one percent of annual public school spending, or about 60 cents per child per year. Further, the Friedman report does not address the issue of school quality, which is a large part of determining true cost savings.

The report, “School Choice by the Numbers: The Fiscal Effect of School Choice Programs, 1990-2006,” was written by Susan Aud. It was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Professor Bruce Baker of the University of Kansas.

In her report, Aud studied twelve programs that offer public subsidies for students who attend private schools in ten states and the District of Colombia. She compared the per pupil cost of public financing (state and local) for a student attending a public school to the public financing of a student using a voucher to attend a private school. Based on this, she found a cumulative savings of $444 million over a 15-year period nationwide.

In his review, Baker points out that expenditures and costs are not the same thing and that the report confuses “cost savings” with “government expenditure reduction.” “Typically,” he explains, “cost savings are defined in terms of achieving similar or better quality of outcome or output with lower investment. Cost necessarily assumes a level of product quality. Further, when one accounts for the cost of producing a product of specific quality, one must account for all resources that went into production, not just the small portion that was government subsidized.”

The bottom line, Baker concludes, is that even if state and local governments were, in fact, able to reduce instructional expenses by $444 million over 15 years, this is a miniscule figure. The small number is in part because publicly financed vouchers are only used by 100,000 students which represents 0.2 percent of 2005 U.S. public school enrollment. Using 2004-05 public education spending amounts, Baker calculates the purported savings to be the equivalent of less than 1/100th of one percent of annual public school spending, or about 60 cents per child per year.

Aud’s evidence, Baker concludes, “does not make a sufficient case to informed policymakers for the positive fiscal impact of vouchers and tuition tax credits. In fact, it suggests quite the opposite – that fiscal gains are trivial at best.”

Find the complete review by Bruce Baker as well as a link to the report published by the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation at:

Contact: Teri Battaglieri (248) 444-7071 (email)
Bruce Baker (785) 864-9844 (email)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oklahoma Legislature Fails Citizenship Quiz

That would be the headline if we judged the 2007 Oklahoma State Legislature on the basis of a recent pop quiz given to 3-4 legislators by a local television station. The quiz is just a snap-shot in time, a pretty busy time, for our elected representatives, and is not an indicator of the success or failure of the entire legislature when it comes to citizenship.

But that's exactly what we do when we judge our teachers, children and our schools by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) standards or the testing portion of the No Child Left Behind Law.

For those of you who would like to try your luck on the citizenship quiz go to You need an 80% to pass.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dissatisfaction in Charter Schools?! Imagine That!

Not everyone is enamored with Charter Schools.

Charter school teachers more than twice as likely as those in traditional schools to leave after one year, research finds

Contact: Teri Battaglieri – (517) 203-2940;
Gary Miron – 269-387-5895;

EAST LANSING, Mich., (May 22, 2007)-- As many as 40 percent of newer charter school teachers end up leaving for other jobs, according to a new study funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The study, “Teacher Attrition in Charter Schools,” by Gary Miron and Brooks Applegate, of the Western Michigan University Evaluation Center, is based on the authors’ analyses of data collected in surveys of charter school employees from around the country conducted from 1997 to 2006.

The authors found that while overall attrition rates fluctuate from year to year and state to state, as many as one in four charter school teachers leave each year- approximately double the typical public school attrition rate, which is around 11 percent.

Attrition among new teachers in charter schools is close to 40 percent annually. This information is particularly critical for charter schools because the percentage of charter school teachers under 30 (37 percent) is more than three times that of traditional public schools (11 percent).

According to Miron and Applegate, “High attrition consumes resources of schools that must regularly provide pre- and in-service training to new teachers; it impedes schools’ efforts to build professional learning communities and positive and stable school cultures; and it is likely to undermine the legitimacy of the schools in the eyes of parents.”

The researchers found that teachers more likely to leave were those who reported less satisfaction with their charter school’s mission, its ability to achieve that mission or its administration and governance. Also more likely to leave were uncertified teachers and those who taught in upper grades.

Based on their findings, Miron and Applegate recommend that supporters of charter schools “would be well-advised to focus on reducing high turnover, especially for new teachers in charter schools.”

“The high attrition rates for teachers in charter schools constitute one of the greatest obstacles that will need to be overcome if the charter school reform is to deliver as promised,” they conclude.
Gary Miron’s and Brooks Applegate’s full report, “Teacher Attrition in Charter Schools” is available at

Monday, May 21, 2007

Teacher Pay Increase-Keep Making the Calls

The full amount of the proposed raise won't make it to you unless the legislature puts "guarantee language" into the bill. You can access other posts about this issue, but you need to make a call to your Senator and Representative today.

Check the link at

Graduation Night

On Saturday night, I watched my nephew, Joshua, graduate from Edmond North High School. Along with Joshua, the excited graduate, are my brother Jon on the right and me on the left. What's different from this graduation is Joshua and his classmates will return to school until June 1 because of all the school they missed because of the winter weather.

As I listened to the names being called out, I was surprised some of the kids appeared to receive no support or accolades from members of the audience. I can't imagine what it must be like to graduate and not have somebody there to share the moment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Guarantee the Raise

While there is a budget agreement that includes teacher raises, 76% of Oklahoma teachers will not receive the raise unless there is guarantee language in the bill.

Please contact your legislators immediately and ask them to put guarantee language in the budget bill. Go to

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TOY's-"Change NCLB" Press Conference

It seems the 2007 Teachers of the Year join the list of those who aren't satisfied with the so-called "No Child Left Behind Law":

Hopefully the Congress will address the issues in the NEA's Positive Agenda for Reauthorization.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Flawed Research Department-Private Management Success of Schools

In the continuing saga of bringing out the truth in research...

Policy makers urged not to use RAND and Harvard studies as basis for decision making about school restructuring

Contact: Teri Battaglieri (517) 203-2940 (email)
Derek Briggs (303) 492-6320 (email) Derek.Briggs@Colorado.EDU

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Two recent studies examining the restructuring of the lowest-achieving public schools in Philadelphia reach different conclusions about whether private management has improved student achievement. Because similar restructuring reform is promoted by the federal No Child Left Behind law, these studies have important national implications. Both studies have flaws, however, and neither study is yet sufficient to make definitive claims about the effects of Philadelphia’s school restructuring reform.

The two reports reviewed are State Takeover, School Restructuring, Private Management, and Student Achievement in Philadelphia released by the RAND Corporation in partnership with Research for Action (RFA); and School Reform in Philadelphia: A Comparison of Student Achievement at Privately-Managed Schools with Student Achievement in Other District Schools published by the Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) at Harvard University.

The reports were reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Derek Briggs, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Both reports attempt to assess the impact of a school reform in Philadelphia. Starting in 2002, the city’s school district restructured its 86 lowest-achieving elementary and middle schools. The most prominent approaches shifted school management to either the district or to one of several private companies. The reports examine the impact of private or district management on student achievement in math and reading.

The RAND-RFA paper concludes that private management had no impact on math or reading achievement, while district management had a positive effect on math achievement but none on reading. The PEPG paper, meanwhile, reached virtually the opposite conclusion. It found private management has had a positive effect on the performance of lower-scoring students in math and reading, while district management had no measurable effect.

In his review, Briggs indicates that the different findings can largely be explained by the fact that PEPG did not have the same access to data as did RAND-RFA. He also identifies and describes the methodological weaknesses in both reports.

Briggs concludes: “These two studies, read together, do contribute to our understanding of Philadelphia’s experience. Yet, although the RAND-RFA study sheds more light on that experience than does the PEPG study, neither study offers a complete picture, and more research is needed before drawing any definitive conclusions.”

Find the complete review by Derek Briggs as well as links to the PEPG and RAND-RFA reports on the web at:

About Think Twice
The Think Twice project provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think tank publications. It is a collaboration of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Kevin Welner, the project co-director and editor, explains that the project is needed because “despite their garnering of media attention and their influence with many policy makers, reports released by private think tanks can be of very poor quality. We don’t consider our reviews to be the final word, nor is our goal to stop think tanks’ contributions to a public dialogue. That dialogue is, in fact, what we value the most. The best ideas come about through rigorous critique and debate.”

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I want to wish all moms a "Happy Mother's Day, but most importantly, my mom, for being the world's greatest mom.

In honor of mother's day, how about a little quiz?

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Member of the Family

Last night, my wife Katherine and I made the difficult decision to euthanize our golden retriever, Callie. Standing beside us were my step-daughter Samantha, and her fiance, Neil.

There are dogs who love to fetch and then there's Callie. I've never been around a dog who would never tire out. She would pester you with whatever ball she could get a hold of and then when you started to throw, you were in for a game. It didn't matter if it was hot or cold out, rain or snow, if you wanted the game to end, you would have to go inside. She really loved the game of fetch and life in general.

Callie had been diagnosed with cancer about a month ago, and we were blessed to share some really good weeks with her before she just tired out. Euthanizing a family pet is never an easy decision. Callie had been with Samantha and her brother Michael as they grew up. You think about the fun times they had together as you watch your children, and their dog, grow up together.

You have a special love and place in our heart Callie. We will miss you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bartlesville Meeting

At the monthly meeting of the Bartlesville Education Association, President Judy Allen reviewed the accomplishments of the EA, which includes Bartlesville's 5 Star Local Award--the highest honor for a local. Good job to Judy and all of her building representatives and local members.

The meeting was also an opportunity to honor the retiring teachers. These outstanding teachers, Susan West, Mary Ann Cale, Melody Eggleston, Cindy Dronyk, Jeannie Bennett, and Pat Copp have over 175 years of teaching experience, and about that many in the Association. They will be tough to replace because of the positive impact they've had on Bartlesville's children. Congratulations ladies. I'd also like to thank Cindy for her great work with the EA. Cindy is looking forward to getting involved with Oklahoma Retired Educators Association.

During the meeting, I shared the news of the decision by the Supreme Court on our A & E Lawsuit. While they were disappointed about the outcome, they are committed to doing the right things for children, teachers and education. Gerald Thompson is an active EA member who recently represented Bartlesville at the Delegate Assembly last April.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

2007 Enid Mexican Fiesta

The Enid Education Association held their 2007 Recognition Banquet last night at the Cherokee Strip Conference Center. The banquet honors recipients of the Friend of Education, Partner in Education, Teacher of the Year from the buildings and district, as well as the recognition of retiring teachers.

With the retirement of 13 teachers, the district will lose over 387 years of classroom experience. Congratulations to the retirees.

The 2007 teacher of the year is Tara Scott, a first grade teacher from Coolidge Elementary. Tara will do a great job representing Enid teachers.

Rick Moulton has done an outstanding job as President and will be followed by new president, Sherri Hendrie. The rest of the executive team consists of Rick Moulton, 1st Vice-President; CindyMoore, 2nd Vice-President; Janet Brandt, Secretary; and Debbie Turner, Treasurer.

Supreme Court Decision

Yesterday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a remedy for Oklahoma’s school children to receive an adequate and equitable education. In holding that it did not have the authority to decide school funding issues, the Court dismissed the Petition that had been filed by the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) and three school districts, which sought a declaratory judgment that the Oklahoma Legislature has failed to adequately fund Oklahoma’s system of public education.

We are disappointed in this decision and disappointed that the Court did not address the issue of whether the current system of funding provides Oklahoma’s school children with the “basic, adequate education” that the Court had referenced in a prior school finance decision.
We are also disappointed that the Court in its opinion appears to give the Oklahoma Legislature unfettered discretion in determining whether the Legislature is meeting its constitutional mandate to provide an adequate education to Oklahoma’s school children. In fact, the Court agrees in its opinion that the Oklahoma Legislature is free to ignore legislatively enacted goals for the improvement of public education.

Unlike the Courts of most other states that have recently considered school funding challenges, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has clearly and unequivocally stated that it does not have the authority to force the Oklahoma Legislature to comply with the Oklahoma Constitution.
While it is no secret that Oklahoma’s system of public education is under-funded, the Court has indicated that it will not exercise its judicial authority and assist in providing a remedy. As we have for the 118 years that we have been in existence, the OEA will continue our efforts to ensure that every child in Oklahoma receives a quality public education and that Oklahoma’s schools are adequately funded by the Oklahoma Legislature.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Governor Signs Funding Bill for Teacher Retirement

Retired and active teachers had the pleasure of watching Governor Brad Henry sign Senate Bill 357 by Senator Johnnie Crutchfield (D-Ardomore) and representative Chris Benge (R-Tulsa). The bill will increase the employer contribution rates resulting in the retirement system being 80% funded by 2026.

SB 357 will provide income for the OTRS without taking money from the school lands trust.

On behalf of all those in the system, I want to say "Thank You" to our legislators and Governor Henry for addressing the needs of the system.