Editor’s Notebook: OCPA choice tours, OCU leads, Ben Carson boosts home educators, Fallin hails ‘diverse schooling’ options

OKLAHOMA CITY – From an editor’s notebook, the state’s leading free market think tank is praising four Oklahoma schools that manifest the promise of school choice, Fallin boosts diversity in schooling options, Oklahoma City University’s online work is hailed, Dr. Ben Carson returns to the Sooner State, and the Public Schools Option group plans its Capitol day.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) is touting four sites that demonstrate the potential of school choice programs to address the needs of students and parents facing challenging circumstances.

OCPA staff will lead visits and provide information to introduce state leaders these examples of the manifold fruits of school choice:

* Good Shepherd Catholic School at Mercy, which provides services to special needs children from ages 3-9. The school started in 2011 as a venture supported by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Mercy Hospital and the University of Central Oklahoma.

* Teen Recovery Solutions – Mission Academy, founded in 200 and now a fully-certified recovery high school for students bound for higher education and committed to a sober lifestyle.

* KIPP Reach College Prep Middle School, an eastside Oklahoma City affiliate of the acclaimed Knowledge is Power Program established in 1994.

* Positive Tomorrows, a school for homeless children. Started in 1989 as part of the local public school system, the school assumed private status several years ago. It supports children from homeless families with practical programs aiming at development of personal self-sufficiency, and intensive and differentiated education

Speaking of choice, Gov. Mary Fallin last month signed an executive proclamation designating January 25-31 as “Oklahoma School Choice Week.”

Fallin’s proclamation, filed with the secretary of state on December 8, said, “all children should have access to an education that prepares them to be successful in private life and equips them for civic responsibility.” She wrote, “Oklahoma has a multitude of high-quality traditional public schools, charter schools, virtual schools, CareerTech schools, private and religious schools, home schools and more. These schools have many excellent teachers committed to educating children.”

Fallin also said, “the need for parental choice and empowerment is one that transcends ideology and partisan politics,” and that “research demonstrates conclusively that providing children with diverse schooling options improves academic performance.”  

U.S. News and World Report announced early this month that Oklahoma City University has one of the best online graduate business programs in America.

The designation for the Meinders School of Business as reported last weekend by The City Sentinel newspaper on its Facebook page:

“This was the first year OCU entered the evaluation process for online business graduate rankings. U.S. News ranked the schools on five general categories: student engagement, a measure of how well students can interact with their instructors and fellow classmates; admissions selectivity; peer reputation, which is essentially how much respect the school has achieved among high-ranking academic officials and outside employers; faculty credentials and training; and student services technology. U.S. News selects factors, known as ranking indicators, to assess each program in those categories.

In 2014, the OCU School of Business garnered accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, putting it among the top 5 percent of business schools in the world.
Dr. Ben Carson will be featured speaker for the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators’ Consociation (OCHEC). On Feb. 10, the group hosts its state Capitol Day.

Cindy Nicolai, legislator liaison for said, “Dr. Carson is helping lead our nation back to its foundational values of faith, freedom and family. No one in the nation is articulating those values more clearly than Dr. Carson, and whether you home educate your children or not, this dinner is a rare opportunity to hear a highly sought-after conservative whose message will give you hope for America’s future.”

Then-President George W. Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Carson in 2008. The physician, who oversaw pediatric neurosurgery for Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for 40 years, is now a professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University.

Tickets range from $200 and up for the fundraising gala at the Cox/Renaissance
Convention Center, 101 N. Broadway Ave. in downtown Oklahoma City.

Information and ticket information can be found at www.OCHEC-Capitol-Day-Gala.eventbrite.com. For questions about the event, contact Cindy Nicolai at Nicolai@ochec.com.

Public School Options (PSO) will conduct its Capitol Day on February 11, and leaders say hundreds of parents backing flexibility and choice in public schools are expected to attend.

Oklahoman Lauren Marshall is a member of the national board for PSO.