Monday, April 30, 2007

Has Ken Neal Even Visited a Charter School?

I wonder if Ken Neal has ever taken the time to visit a Tulsa charter school? Do you think he called to verify his facts before launching this diatribe?

A central point he missed that is germaine, is the fact that CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS! As such they are entitled to state funding as part of our constitutional mandate to provide a free and appropriate public education.

Mr. Neal foresees an explosion of charter schools if this legislation is passed. Is that a bad thing? But more to the point, in the same time frame (since 1999) when the Oklahoma Charter School Act was passed, we can see what might have happened in Tulsa, by looking at what did happen in OKC. Due to the TPS Board and Tulsa Technology's refusal to sponsor any charter school, Tulsa has just 3 charter schools, and OKC now has 10. This is a point I have made before.

What constitutes an explosion? I would foresee perhaps a half dozen in the next few years. And I do believe that there needs to be an incubator to provide some leadership on establishing and running of charters. I have the background and experience to help with this.

Ken Neal gets to the point though by stating that the "explosion" will lead to a drain on existing schools. Show me the money..... A charter schools' enrollment is included in the districts' totals for state funding allocation purposes, so the district is actually a pass-through entity. The district has no responsibility to educate any of the charter school students. What's the rub? For little effort they can keep up to 5% of the funding.

The plain fact is that the Tulsa charter schools are doing a better job, with substantially less funding. Charters have to rent or otherwise find suitable facilities for their school buildings with no additional funding, while we homeowners continually subsidize the traditional public school buildings. To help make up that difference, our government needs to find a funding source for charters to the tune of an additional $750 per student to help bridge that gap.

Contrary to what Ken Neal says, this bill is a step in the right direction. We need more potential sponsors for charter schools. What's wrong with Oklahoma Higher Education being a sponsor? Don't you think they have a strong interest in seeing a steady stream of qualified students entering their institutions? Perhaps Ken Neal doesn't understand the role played by the sponsor. It is a role of hands-off oversight and basically is a financial conduit between the state funding to the charter school. Unlike the situation we now have, under this bill, charters may actually find a sponsor that is favorable and nurturing to the charter school, instead of an antagonistic, adversarial relationship that now exists between school and sponsor.

The Tulsa Chigger urges you to contact your state senator and to throw their support behind this bill.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Memorializing Joel Henry Hinrichs III

Is appears OU has taken a step into the twilight zone by placing a paving stone on campus memorializing Joel Henry Hinrichs, III.

Will OU-Tulsa be next?

There are far too many unanswered questions about this case like: TATP, the attempted purchase of 22 bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a large cache of explosives found in his apartment, 2 years unaccounted for after dropping out at OU in 2002 only to re-enter in 2005, his muslim roommate, etc.....

I feel for his family and rue the loss of this potentially gifted young man.

This was a poor decision by OU.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Urge your Representative to Vote YES on SB 661

SB 661 is the Oklahoma State Senate version of an amended Oklahoma Charter School Act. It passed the Oklahoma House as HB 1589 easily and earlier passed the Senate in its third reading. It comes to the floor of the House tomorrow, Friday 4-20-07. Time is of the essence.

This bill basically amends the Charter School Act to allow for other potential sponsors for charter schools. Right now the TPS School Board has a monopoly on sponsorship. And earlier this year they extended their self-imposed moratorium on new charter schools for Tulsa. Vo-Tech passed on sponsoring 3 charter schools in 2004 and walked out of mediation on the issue. Without the teeth of binding arbitration Vo-Tech cannot and will not be compelled to sponsor a charter school. The result: Tulsa has been stuck on 3 charter schools, the last one sponsored in 2001. OKC, by comparison, has at least 10 during the same time period. SB 661 would allow for the State Department of Education, certain higher education institutions, and even city councils as potential sponsors for charter schools.

It is the Tulsa Chiggers informed opinion that this is a good amendment to the Charter School Act and should be passed. Urge your state Representative to vote YES!

You can find your senator by following this link.

End the "shotgun wedding" that now exists between TPS and the Tulsa charter schools.

Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People

At the top, I want to make it perfectly clear, that I am not trying to further the side issue of gun ownership in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. That heinous crime was the result of a very disturbed and evil young man.

But, in watching the coverage of the massacre on both CBS and ABC, for some inexplicable reason, they did.

I find it a tough pill to swallow when the free press whose existence is a constitutional guarantee, uses it's freedom to suppress the second amendment guaranteed freedom to keep and bear arms. It's as diabolical as the 9-11 suicide bombers using our jet airplanes as missiles against us.

I have thought about guns and our society in the wake of the massacre and have this opinion. In order for us to continue to ensure the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, I believe that gun safety and marksmanship should be made a compulsory part of our public education.

Also, in those areas designated as "gun free zones" like Virginia Tech, they amend their laws to allow professors to be trained and to carry a concealed weapon.

While these measures would not have prevented the massacre, it would have minimized the casualties. Of that, I am certain.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Skittish David Boren

Skittish OU President David Boren locked down the OU campus yesterday in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. Someone was spotten on campus with something suspicious. Come to find out, it was an umbrella!

Perhaps that umbrella was like the one the Penguin had on the old "Batman" TV series. That one was full of bat-gas, ready to subdue the caped crusader.

More than likely, Boren is still reeling from Joel Henry Hinrichs III and his TATP. Boren led the cover-up of this obvious terrorist-in-training incident.

Yes, David Boren is looking over his shoulder and is afraid of his own shadow. He knows way more that he lets on. His experience in Senate Intelligence no doubt make his blood run cold, knowing who is in our college campuses and what they are planning to do.

Monday, April 16, 2007

TPD Get's Their Man-Leaves 200 Criminals Behind

The Tulsa Police Department finally extricated Rico Starks from the apartment he had holed up in after a no-doubt scary situation last night at the Morningstar Apartments.

After a routine traffic stop, Starks fled the scene and barricaded himself inside an apartment, while an angry mob of about 200 gathered around. This lawless bunch threatened the police by its presence, with rocks thrown and shots fired. This was confirmed not only by police, but by TV news reporters, one of which was roughed up by being grabbed by her hair and pulled to the ground.

I too am glad that the incident ended with Starks arrest and no one being seriously hurt. But I question why the TPD only arrested one young man on outstanding warrants and left behind up to 200 other people who had committed crimes like assault, battery, and rioting. Do we allow people to assault our police and walk away unhindered, thinking they have gotten away with something?

Thank goodness they got one off the street, but I think they left 200 behind. How were the citizens of Tulsa best served?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The demise of the "Cram-alot" Inn?

There is something fishy about this story. Without exception in every account on radio or TV, never do they mention who actually owns the Camelot. Consistently, they are referred to as "the owners". Isn't the ownership of this property a key component of the story?

After all, it is the responsibility of the owner of the property to keep it up. And they should be fined by the city for allowing it to get in such a state of disrepair.

What happens if a homeowner doesn't mow their lawn? The city will eventually do it for you and slap a lien against the property.

Now mayor Taylor is getting creative to solve this problem. Have the TIA (Tulsa Industrial Authority) loan the money to "the owners", with the promise they will tear it down and repay the loan from the sale proceeds of the property. Is there also a promise to actually sell the property after the demolition?

Why the media blackout on ownership? It is my understanding that at least several years ago the owner was the Transcendental Meditation non-profit church (you get my drift, I don't know the exact name). Anyone know if that is still the case? Why shelter the stigma of poor stewardship and poor citizenship by this group toward the City of Tulsa? Perhaps the bad publicity avoidance is also part of the "deal".

Also, look out for this one too. The Camelot has asbestos! Now just saying that increased the cost of demolition 5 fold. Here come the guys in the moon-suits. And I will bet one of the "good-ole boys" will "get" the job. All conveniently paid for by the up front money of the TIA, a public financing entity, in other words, YOUR MONEY! How conveeen-ient!

One last thing. As a native Tulsan, I and my friends have always called the Camelot, the Cram-alot. There is a part of me that will be sad to see it go. But in this case, it may be for the best to demolish it. The "owners" either won't or can't put any money into it and it is an eyesore thanks to them.