Friday, October 31, 2008

Defending HOPE

Kurt Hochenauer defends the HOPE Campaign and refutes some weak arguments.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Former Student: Cathy Winrow (Baker)

On Wednesday, I ran into a former student, Cathy Baker, at the season-opening game of the OKC Thunder basketball game. Cathy is the Director of Catering Sales for the Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Hotel & Spa.

I hadn't seen Cathy since she was in high school back when we were both in Stillwater. I got to introduce her to my wife and good friends who were attending the game with me. We had a pleasant conversation and I look forward to getting in touch with her again.

Flawed Research-Fordham Institute's USA's Standing in the World

Anything to push their own agenda.

Report’s Alarm over U.S. Education Lacks Support

Review finds Education Olympics of little value to policymakers

EAST LANSING, Mi. (Oct. 15, 2008)—A report released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute following the Summer Olympic Games awards gold, silver and bronze medals to top-performing countries in various academic “events.” A new review of that report questions the rankings but saves its harshest criticism for the report’s leap to unsupported policy recommendations.

The report, Education Olympics 2008: The Games in Review, was reviewed for the Think Twice project by professors Edward Fierros of Villanova University and Mindy Kornhaber of Penn State University.

Education Olympics compares student achievement in American schools against that of other nations. Based primarily on standardized test results, it awarded the U.S. only one gold medal (for civics education). With this one medal, the U.S. was ranked 20th among the 77 participating nations.

The Fordham report acknowledges that it isn’t based on new research and that it takes some shortcuts to arrive at its rankings. Also not new is its conclusion that low U.S. rankings threaten the nation’s standing in the global economy. But the report offers little or no support for that conclusion or the associated recommendations.

The core of the report consists of tables showing how countries rank on various student achievement measures, as well as accompanying descriptive text. Supplementing the tables and narrative are ten sidebars that make a number of claims about education and economic performance. Fierros and Kornhaber point out that the sidebar assertions overlap with Fordham Institute policy initiatives for American schools and “raise doubts about the use of educational resources in the U.S., while praising other countries’ school choice policies and Canada’s lack of a federal role for education.” The review discusses, as an example, a sidebar largely focused on promoting school choice. The sidebar’s content “is driven by ideology rather than reasoned argument,” the reviewers write. As evidence, they point to the fact that Finland—the highest ranking of all the countries in the report—in fact has the lowest rate of school choice. The sidebars lack any analysis of the needs of students, teachers, communities, or families, and also lack any foundation of analysis of previous reform efforts.

In short, the report “does not attempt to provide clear guidance for policy or practice on the basis of its findings and conclusions,” Fierros and Kornhaber write. “The Education Olympics report, driven by predetermined positions and lacking any rigorous demonstration of argument, theory, evidence or methods, provides no basis for generating constructive policy for improving our nation’s educational performance.”

Find by the review by Edward G. Fierros and Mindy Kornhaber and a link to Education Olympics 2008 on the web at:

Monday, October 27, 2008

HOPE Exceeds Expectations-243,000 Signatures

Last week, the HOPE-Helping Oklahoma Public Education-Coalition, turned in over 243,000 signatures to the Secretary of State. The signatures represent the desire of Oklahoma residents to have school funding addressed by an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution. The amendment would force the legislature to fund Oklahoma's per pupil expenditure at the regional average.

The campaign needed to collect 138,970 signatures in 90 days to be considered for the ballot. It far exceeded that amount in only 60 days. This impressive display proves Oklahomans support their schools and want their children to have the best.

HOPE proponent, Dr. Lisa Connery (Norman Public School Parent), spoke to the media about the success of the campaign and the importance of HOPE. Lisa is pictured in the second photo and is one of three proponents that include Richard George (Business Owner) and Chuck Pack(Tahlequah Public School Teacher). Other partners of the campaign include the Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration, the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools and the United Suburban Schools Association.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Live Debate on Education and the Next President

While education hasn't received the attention as other domestic issues, both candidates have addressed some of their beliefs about my profession. Here is your opportunity to learn more about what education would be like in either an Obama or McCain presidency.

Education and the Election
Two must-see events on
Live Debate: Education and the Next President
Exclusive webcast, Tuesday, October 21, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Eastern time
Live from Teachers College, Columbia University: "Education and the Next President," a debate between Linda Darling-Hammond, education adviser to Democratic nominee Barack Obama, and Lisa Graham Keegan, education adviser to Republican nominee John McCain.
Register now to watch the live debate.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2008 OEA Convention

The 2008 OEA Convention, "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" was held yesterday at the Mabee Center on the Campus of Oral Roberts University. Featured guest speaker, Dr. Ruby Payne, presented her thoughts and ideas on the issues and challenges educators face as they try to meet the educational needs of children in poverty.

Our members really enjoyed the day with Dr. Payne and left with a lot of insight. They also shared a great deal with Dr. Payne about their own experiences with children and parents in poverty.

As a teacher who is committed to life-long learning, I wish I would have been exposed to Dr. Payne's work earlier in my career. The knowledge would have made me a better teacher.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reasons for Ruby Payne

I received this email from TCTA member K Holland. She is willing to share her story with everyone and her hopes of what people can get out of hearing Ruby Payne at the OEA Convention on October 16th.


I thought I might share a couple of local news stories with you. The stories are very pertinent with the upcoming convention with Ruby Payne. Tulsa Public schools has an 82% free/reduced lunch rate, many like mine are close to 100%. As you are aware, poverty breeds violence. I want to thank you for changing the convention to meeting the needs of our society. The convention has always been good, but many of our members have not truly taken advantage of all the workshops at the conventions. Ruby Payne is fantastic and very meaningful in our turbulent economic times.

The first new story occurred at Booker T Washington High School(one of the top schools in the state and a magnet school) and also Lynn Stockley's school. This school is usually only in the news for their academic successes not violence. Last week they had a 2 hour lock down and police searched the school and found students with 3 guns and ammunition. On Monday, the following story was on KOTV about girls fighting at BTW (be sure and watch the interview with our district's new police chief)

As a result of this story, KOTV received hundreds of calls from parents, teachers and principals about the problem of girl fights. KOTV received word that a teacher had been hurt in a girl fight (myself). [A week ago, I underwent shoulder surgery after being thrown against a wall at school, while trying to stop a girl fight. The surgeon reattached three tendons in my rotator cuff as well as reattaching my bicep tendon. I will return to work next week, but undergo four months of physical therapy]

I agreed to the interview after confirmation from the district that I would not be reassigned. I made sure that Denzel was interviewed as well as my principal so I was not the only one discussing the problem. Here is the story and video.

At the bottom of the story you can click on comments to read the public's reaction to the story. Over 70 people have left comments compared to 8 for the story on Wayman Tisdale! Comments have come in from as far away as New York . Many are from Tulsa teachers. Here is an example of one of the many comments:

"I am so glad that this article is out! I don't think people understand the difficulties that Teachers face these days. The disrespect is out of control. These kids talk to the Teachers like they are dirt and then when the kid gets in trouble, the parent comes to the school and cusses everyone out. I run one of the In School Intervention programs at a local high school. It's a sad thing when I come to school and actually sit in my classroom in fear."

Tulsa ISI teacher

The comments have given me hope that the general public are beginning to realize what schools are like today. People are realizing that we need assistance and we need it now.

I realize that sometimes OEA members from smaller schools/districts or rural areas do not understand the challenges we face in the inner-city areas. Yes, I do realize they have as many problems as we do, but of a different nature. I realize girl fighting has gone on since the dawn of education, however video taping the fights with cell phones and broadcasting the fight on the web has not. I hope by shedding light on this problem we can stop this problem before it becomes a major problem for all schools in Oklahoma .

Hopefully, OEA can help our legislators to understand the violence and fear some teachers deal with on a daily basis.

I just wanted to let you know what has been happening in Tulsa . Again, I thank you for bringing in Ruby Payne to the convention.

K Holland

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What are you Reading?

I just finished a couple of thrillers---"The First Commandment" by Brad Thor and "The Book of Lies" authored by Brad Meltzer. This is the first time I've ever read Thor and I will try him one more time before passing judgement on his work. I've enjoyed a number of Meltzer's work and recommend him highly.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Flawed Research:Cato Institute on Public V. Private

Another attempt to discredit public schools.

Claim that Private Schools Outperform Public Schools Doesn’t Hold Up

Review concludes that Cato’s simple tally of unscreened studies is not a useful way of summarizing research

EAST LANSING, Mi. (Sept. 30, 2008)—A new report from the Cato Institute purports to show that private schools around the world perform better than public schools and that the United States should embrace a free and competitive education marketplace. A review of the Cato report, however, finds the report’s analysis to be faulty and the resulting policy conclusion to be unwarranted.

The report, Markets vs. Monopolies in Education: A Global Review of the Evidence, was reviewed for the Think Twice project by Professor Clive Belfield of Queens College/City University of New York, who is also co-director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Markets vs. Monopolies tallies up the conclusions reached by 55 domestic and international studies. It finds that, by a ratio of 8 to 1, private schools outperform public ones. It then presents the results of a closer look at a subset of studies, representing systems with the greatest market freedom, and finds that private schools again outperform public schools.

From these findings, the report draws a series of broad policy recommendations: That the content of schooling does not need to be overseen by the state; that there should be universal access to minimally regulated education markets; and that parents should directly pay at least some of the cost of their children’s education.

Belfield’s review strongly criticizes the report’s analysis as well as its findings. “Contrary to the basic assertion in the Cato report, there is little warrant for U.S. policymakers to draw policy conclusions from tallying the results of the body of very uneven international evidence. The large and growing body of U.S. evidence about school choice and marketization is more accessible, applicable and useful than figuring out how international evidence applies to the U.S.”

Regarding the report’s simplistic “vote-counting” to analyze the studies’ conclusions, Belfield notes that “not all votes – not all studies – are necessarily equal.” Researchers have developed much more careful ways of analyzing and making sense of multiple studies that explore related phenomena. The danger, Belfield explains, is that many of the studies counted in the Cato study are substantially weaker than others, and their value is highly suspect.

The Cato report also omits a number of relevant studies, raising “serious questions about the report’s methodological assumptions and about the usefulness of reviewing international evidence instead of relying on U.S. research,” Belfield writes.

Belfield notes that even if the report’s fundamental findings of the experiences of other countries were accurate, it nonetheless cannot support the policy conclusions. The national systems surveyed, including those in Pakistan, India and Ghana are so different from the U.S. as to make comparisons questionable, and the report ignores such questions as the costs vs. benefit of market approaches, both in economic and social terms.

“It is possible that private schools are superior to public schools when all the international evidence is counted,” Belfield writes. “We don’t know, and this report does little if anything to help answer that question.”

But the best studies in the U.S. and abroad, which include rigorous controls for bias, show the purported private school advantage to range from small to non-existent, he concludes. “As such, expanding market forces is unlikely to yield dramatic improvements in the quality of the U.S. education system.”

Find Clive Belfield’s review and a link to the Cato report on the web at:

Contact: Teri Battaglieri, (517) 203-2940; (email) greatlakescenter@greatlakescenter.orgClive Belfield, (718) 997-5448; (email)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thoughts & Prayers for Kaycee

Please keep Kaycee Evans and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Kaycee has been diagnosed with bone cancer and is currently taking chemo treatments. Kaycee is the daughter of OEA member Donna Mastalir of Moore.

Please visit Kaycee's site and let her know you're thinking about her. The thoughts and prayers of 40,000 OEA members can make a difference for Kaycee.