Monday, December 31, 2007

Be Safe Tonight

With many people out celebrating the new year, please remember--- don't drink and drive. Besides the enormous penalty if you get caught, the chance you may injure someone in an accident is too great a risk to even consider getting behind the wheel after you've been drinking.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Former Student Profile:Dan Wilguess

While shopping for groceries today, one of my former students, Dan Wilguess stopped me and said hello. Dan is a D.D.S and and is involved in family and restorative dentistry. He has a practice located at 233 E. 10th St. in Edmond.

I got to introduce Dan to my wife. Dan is also married to one of my former students, Shannon, and they have two children. Both Dan and Shannon were great kids and now great adults who decided to stay in Oklahoma.

Running into two former students over a couple of days is unusual, unless I'm in Stillwater. Meeting up with them has made for an even greater Christmas holiday.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Former Student Profile:Ryan Lenhart

While my wife and I were getting her Christmas present adjusted today, a new bike, we ran into a former Stillwater Junior High student, Ryan Lenhart.

Ryan is the General Manager of "Bicycle Alley" located in downtown OKC at 1015 N. Broadway Ave. When not helping customers and building bikes, Ryan is out racing as a Category 3 Roadracer, as a member of the OKC Velo Club. (

It was great catching up with Ryan and learning about how his family and friends were doing. As I've said before about my Stillwater students, Ryan is representative of a great group of kids I had the honor to teach.

Ryan and Terry Enos helped me get a bike for Katherine. The people at "Bicycle Alley" run a great business that is truly customer oriented. You can learn more about the store at

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


C H R I S T M A S ! !

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Traditions Quiz

Every family has their own holiday traditions. Some people travel to visit relatives. Some people celebrate Christmas by going to services on Christmas Eve. There are families who get together for an evening of food and fellowship.

While you think about your traditions, see if you can test your knowledge of the holiday by taking this quiz at

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Give the Gift of Reading

There are two perspectives here on the topic--my personal view I wrote for my December web message and author James Patterson's which appeared in today's "Parade Magazine."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Song Quiz

How well do you know the lyrics to these holiday songs?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flawed Research: Private vs. Public Schools

We have great public schools all across the country.


EAST LANSING, Mich.– Two new reports appear to come to different conclusions about whether private schools are better than public ones at educating students. But a new review of both reports finds little actual difference between their findings—and little difference between public and private schools.

One of the two reports reviewed was released by The Center on Education Policy (CEP) and is entitled, “Are Private High Schools Better Academically than Public High Schools?” The other was released by the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation (Friedman) and is entitled, “Monopoly Versus Markets: The Empirical Evidence on Private Schools and School Choice.” The two reports are similar in that they each use an existing national database and compare public and private schools in terms of students’ learning outcomes as measured by standardized tests.
The two reports were reviewed for the Think Twice project by Jaekyung Lee, associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Using the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) database, the CEP report found no advantage for either public or private schools. The study examined schools serving disadvantaged students in urban settings.

Using the Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS) database, the Friedman report presents evidence that private schooling produces a benefit that Lee describes as “very small in absolute terms and its practical significance is questionable.” The Friedman report presents its findings in a way that makes this benefit appear more significant by applying the same gains found in the last two years of high school to all 12 years of schooling. Lee points out that without additional research, “these assumptions cannot be reasonably made.”

Lee notes that the specific findings of the two studies do not, as a practical matter, greatly differ. Setting aside some concerns he raised regarding each study, Lee explains the small practical significance of the benefits presented in the Friedman analysis. He further explains that even though the CEP analysis shows no overall private school benefits, it does show some that two types of private schools show some positive outcomes: non-religious private high school students obtained higher SAT scores than public school students, and Catholic schools run by holy orders such as the Jesuits had nominal positive academic effects.

Lee also presents his own, independent cross-examination of the two data sources and shows that the public-private high school gaps in math achievement gain scores were almost null (in the NELS) or too small to be practically significant (in the ELS). He concludes that much of the apparent differences between the reports can be accounted for by their use of different datasets, time periods, and target populations, among other things.

In the end, Lee says, while both reports may prompt discussion over the nature of school success and the values underlying school choice, both seem unlikely to adequately guide educational policymakers, practitioners or parents due to their inability to fully account for observed gaps (or the lack thereof) between public and private schools. The most that can be concluded from the two reports taken together is that “students generally learn in public high schools about as well as in private high schools, but … there are still many unanswered questions about potential differences in the finer details.”

Find the complete review by Jaekyung Lee as well as links to the CEP and Friedman reports at:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merit Pay/Pay for Test Scores & the Ice Storm

I drove through the Oklahoma City metro area to get a good look at the damage from the ice storm. It reminds me of the destruction I saw in northeastern Oklahoma around Muskogee. There are trees and utility lines down all over the place. Some neighborhoods have power, others don't. Oklahoma Gas and Electric says there are over 643,000 people without power. My wife and I are very lucky--we still have power.

There are a number of schools that are closed. Some of them may be closed for a number of days. Even if they do open, some of the patrons may not have power at their own homes. While this is still in the early stages of reconstruction, one has to wonder what type of impact on student learning this will have on children.

What will happen to the testing that will take place later in the school year? Since we are so committed to testing our kids, they can fall behind when teachers lose a week of quality teaching and learning. Will the state decide to move the testing back so that teachers will have a chance to catch up? And what impact will no heat and power have on kids when they do get back? Will this adversely impact their learning ability and put them further behind?

These are examples of "challenges" in which teachers and kids have no control over. How do you measure the effect of this storm on children's learning and testing? How do you reward teachers
with a pay for test score/merit pay plans when events like this happen?

Does anyone have something to say besides soundbites to sell to Oklahoma parents and teachers?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Prayers, Ice, and Books

It's hard to imagine we are dealing with another ice storm. It seems like we just got out of the wintry mess and now here we go again. Sadly, this storm has produced deaths and damages. My prayers go out to those who lost loved ones on the roads and to the people of Jones who lost their high school to fire early this morning.

There is a regularly scheduled school board meeting tonight in Jones. The board will have some tough decisions to make. I listened to the principal on TV this morning. It will be difficult for kids, teachers, and the community to get over this disaster and get back into the proper flow of school.

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose the school I taught at and all the teaching materials I collected over the years. The high school teachers will have a challenging road ahead and I will keep you informed of how you can help. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Because many of us will be spending time at home with kids, I hope that we can take the time to share time and a book or two with them. Today is a great opportunity to model reading for pleasure to your children. Find a favorite author and spend some time reading. And while I talk about it, I want you to know I'm also walking the walk. I've recently finished "Simple Genius" and "Stone Cold" by David Baldacci and "Catch 22" by Joseph Heller. I'm currently reading "The Legend of Baggar Vance" by Steven Pressfield.

All of us can find books we can enjoy for pleasure. Please pass on this great gift to your loved ones.