Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gwen Freeman on Sabbatical?

Clearly Gwen Freeman has been off the air for over a week now over at the Morning Show on KFAQ. However, if you go to the KFAQ website, and click on the link to Elvis Polo, suddenly there is a link to Gwen Freeman. However, the link to Gwen Freeman has been removed from the home page. Interesting?

Perhaps Gwen is just taking some time off after all? This is maddening to Morning Show listeners, considering the future of the show. With Chris, the show has taken an even sharper turn toward politics, something we all get a belly full of anyway. Chris will need to move toward a broader range of information and entertainment if he is to make a go of it.

Education Issues Loom over Legislature

The number of bills winding there way though this legislative session that seek to tweak our educational system indicate that education remains a critical issue for Oklahomans. As we spend several billion dollars each year on it, and we continue to see mediocre results, it's no wonder.

Bills include one that would allow Indian tribes to sponsor charter schools. Another one would give you a tax credit for providing tuition to low-income students to attend a private school. Another one to raise teacher pay. Yet another to extend the school year and re-define it to measure hours of instruction, instead of days of instruction. And no doubt, there are more.

It doesn't do us any good to drop out or opt out of the political system. This is where reforms can be made, even if it is ever so slowly.

What has been foisted upon Oklahoma taxpayers is immoral. To take our tax dollars and give us sub-par results in return is outrageous. Get educated and get involved!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oklahoma Academic All Staters Announced

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has announced the recipients of its prestigious 2008 Academic All-State Awards. These are 100 of the top public high school seniors in Oklahoma.
David L. Boren, chairman and founder of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, describes the selection of the scholars as “Oklahoma’s most rigorous academic competition.”

To be nominated for Academic All-State, students must meet one of the following criteria: an American College Test (ACT) composite score of at least 30; a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) combined critical reading and math score of at least 1350; or be selected as a semi-finalist for a National Merit, National Achievement or National Hispanic Scholarship.

The Tulsa Chigger salutes each and every one of these future leaders.

How did our local high schools fare? Let's take a look, shall we?

Booker T. Washington High School

William Chyan
Susanna Michael
Meredith Nelson

With an enrollment of 1248, BTW has 1 all-stater for every 416 students

Jenks High School

Mary Lyn Graves
Christina Jackson
Conghua Ye

With an enrollment of 2129, Jenks has 1 all-stater for every 710 students

Union High School

James Buchanan
Elaine Shan

With an enrollment of 1932, Union has 1 all-stater for every 966 students

Memorial High School

Duncan Staggs

With an enrollment of 1249, Memorial has 1 all-stater for every 1249 students


Tulsa School of Arts & Sciences (Charter School)

Catherine Roberts

With and enrollment of just 274, TSAS has 1 all-stater for every 274 students!

TSAS continues to prove that it has the best academic performance of all the area high schools.

Don't you think its time we break the monopolistic hold on public education by Tulsa Public Schools, and demand that Tulsa have more charter schools?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Three Year Itch

Hooray! Yippee!

Today ends the third year of my blog, Tulsa Chiggers. Neither the first nor the last blog about local issues for Tulsa Oklahoma.

TPS Board Approved Early Termination of Deborah Brown Charter School Contract

The founder and director of the absolutely outstanding Deborah Brown Community School is the person pictured at right. Her charter school is the first one granted in Tulsa. It has a long and distinguished record of achievement and progress. It is a bright and shining star on the city's north side when it comes to public education.

It appears that Deborah Brown Community School has already taken steps to end the sponsorship of their charter with TPS and may instead be sponsored by Langston University-Tulsa. The TPS Board approved the early termination this week and you can read about it here. This became possible when our state legislature passed an amendment to the Oklahoma Charter School Act in 2007 which allows certain higher education institutions to become sponsors for charter schools.

The TPS lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the OCSA has cast a cloud of doubt over the future of charters in the state. As a result, there have been no new charter applicants step forward. Until the TPS suit is settled, I don't foresee any sponsor stepping up to the plate.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Answering 6 Common Criticisms Against Charter Schools

Here is an excellent article from the Center for Education Reform:


1) Creates Balkanization in Education
(The “Charter Schools Segregate” Argument)

More than 22 studies demonstrate that charters are over serving those
under served by failing schools, such as low socio-economic
populations and students at
risk of dropping out. Three studies suggest
that the charters examined serve essentially
the same population as the
surrounding area.

Charter schools either serve the same demographic characteristics as in
public schools, or focus on students in danger of failing.
Variations, which may exist,
depend upon the neighborhood where the
schools are located, but in all cases mitigate
in favor of serving larger
numbers of minority and ethnic populations.

The reason for larger service to minority children is not owing to
but to the fact that where traditional schools fail to
serve their students, the parents
want out, and nowhere is this more
prevalent than in failing urban public schools
serving mostly
African-American and Hispanic students.

2) Competition Has No Impact (The Anti-Ripple Argument)

The combined research of five districts by the State University of
New York, by
University of California scholars and by both state
and national institutions finds
extensive evidence of changes in
programs, approaches, behavior and an increased
to consumers as a result of charters. In some places the impact is
by policies advocated by opponents of charter schools that
protect districts and schools
from harm when children choose to leave.

Competition has had the greatest impact where there are strong charter
laws; the
weakest impact where there are weak charter laws. Prior to
the passage of strong
charter school laws and the establishment of the
resulting charter schools, real reforms
moved slowly - or not at all.

3) Innovation Is Lacking (The Prove It's So Different Argument)

Numerous studies cited show that innovative practices and programs
are being
implemented in charter schools. The flexibility these schools
enjoy has not prompted
them to make risky experiments, but rather
allows them to use programs that are often
not permitted or not extended
to teachers because of oversight from distant

Charter schools also prompt traditional school districts to substantively
classroom instruction. This impact includes such improvements
as adopting instruction
programs used by charter schools, developing
and building thematic schools to meet
the community demand
demonstrated by charter schools and partnering with
community colleges
for better instruction and program expansion.

The “No Innovation” argument relies on a vague definition that ignores
the local
variations that exist in public education. Because each charter
school responds
essentially to local conditions, what may be innovative
in one area (i.e., block
scheduling or year-round schooling) may be common
in another. A charter school
offers the opportunity to employ new practices
that may otherwise be blocked by
bureaucratic or political considerations
of the traditional public school district.

4) More Accountability is Needed (The Process Versus Progress Argument)

Critics argue that charter schools lack the oversight of publicly accountable
and institutions. As proof they point to the fact that charter schools
close when they do
not serve their mission and to personnel policies that do
not mandate district oversight.
In reality, that is the kind of “accountability”
that has long been absent from public

In teacher surveys, freedom from procedural rules and related constraints
often cited as what charter teacher’s value most. Charter school
accountability is based
on goals set and the extent to which parents who
choose those schools believe the
school is meeting their expectations.
Traditional public schools that consistently fail to
meet goals (in those
rare instances when they are set) are propped up and continue to
do a
disservice to the children attending them. Charter schools that
consistently fail to
meet goals (which are always set) are closed;
this is an important, powerful measure of

5) No Evidence That They Work (The Double Standard Argument)

In his report for the National School Boards Association, Thomas
Good argues that
there is no achievement evidence and therefore,
the claim that charters will be better
does not hold up. Later, he
says that the research is not credible for purposes of
student achievement. In reality, many charter schools are not
comparable to
similar public schools because of the time in which
children have spent there and the
benchmarks are not always the
same among all schools.

However, research is building in states that administer statewide
objective tests
based on proficiency in key standards. Fifteen
studies show positive achievement and
gains among charter
schools which, while preliminary and not comprehensive, in fact

do show that there is evidence that many work. Nearly every
study demonstrates that -
although the charter schools reviewed
focused on “at-risk” students who entered the
school performing
significantly below grade level – students’ progress was at or above

the progress recorded by students in surrounding traditional
public schools,
demographically comparable schools, or the
state average.

6) The Common Good Is Undermined, Sort Of (Choice Is Bad For

Critics say that the common good of public education is undermined
people choose to associate with people whose values they share.
The values most
identified by parents as reasons for their choosing
charters is the value of a good
education. Charters are a response to
failing schools and deficiencies in traditional
public schools.
Therefore charter schools should be judged on how well they satisfy
need and desire for alternatives and not on some larger notion
of public good that
doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in good schools.

Charter schools are based largely upon accountability. They must be
by a state agency designed to review the quality and
effectiveness of these schools. If
the applications cannot clear the
bar, or if the schools do not meet their contractual
the public good is not served and the school will not be approved
or will be
shut down.

Can traditional public schools make the same claim?

The Center for Education Reform is a national, independent, non-profit
advocacy organization
providing support and guidance to individuals,
community and civic groups, policymakers and
others who are working
to bring fundamental reforms to their schools. For further information,

please call (202) 822-9000.

One Proud Reaganite

I am certainly old enough to remember the lampooning by our entire national media of President Ronald Reagan's proposed missile defense shield in the '80's, they dubbed as "Star Wars". Thank God he was too principled a man to allow this to deter what he knew to be the right course for the defense of our nation.

I feel pride in our military accomplishment, with the U.S. missile strike against our defective spy satellite. With its decaying orbit, hurling around the earth at 17,000 mph, our navy fired a single missile from a cruiser, and by all accounts, it found its target and accomplished its mission. Well done!

I sleep better at night knowing that we have this defensive shield in place.

And I chuckle at the egg on the face of the media. Shame on you!

KFAQ Sans Gwen Freeman

Why is Chris Medlock smiling? Could it be because he is the last man left standing on the KFAQ morning show?

As noted yesterday, Gwen Freeman the co-host of the morning show has apparently left KFAQ. All of this transpired rather quickly over the past week.

Events on air last week seem to be the straw that broke the camels back, as far a Gwen was concerned. An on-air tiff during a discussion about Terry Simonson last week, led to Medlock hitting the microphone. The next thing we know Gwen was gone and Chris was covering for her absence with an excuse that she wasn't feeling well.

This week they announce that she is gone. What?

There must be more to this than meets the eye.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Freeman Gone?

Gwen Freeman the popular host of the KFAQ morning show has apparently left the station. She follows the departure last year of Michael DelGiorno. This leaves the morning show in the hands of Chris Medlock and a cadre of minions including, Michael Bates, Charley Biggs, Elvis Polo, among others.

The Chigger will miss Gwen and her perspective on local issues. We hope that the conservative voice in Tulsa will still have an outlet on the morning show at KFAQ.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Necromancer Searches SE Tulsa

I really am shaking my head on this one.

Over the radio and TV news today is the report that an admitted necromancer, or a consort with the dead, has caught the fancy of the local media. It is unbelievable to me that this is even a story, or newsworthy. This is sheer fantasy and lunacy.

If by some stroke of luck they do find the body of the missing teenager, it would only be because the alleged murderer talked to the necromancer and spilled the beans.

I am only sorry that the TPD has not completely solved this crime yet, and the family certainly needs some closure.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tulsa Taps Bunney

The Tulsa Chigger is glad to hear the Mike Bunney wants come come back to his roots here in Tulsa.......

Only a scant 3 weeks ago, Mike Bunney retired (was retired?) from Boeing. The exact same man who led the national site selection for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The exact same company for the exact same purpose the uninformed voters of Tulsa passed the 4/10's of a cent sales tax that never went into effect, since Boeing passed us up for a more lucrative package in Washington state.

Bunney states, "I'm in this to give public service to the Tulsa community that gave me so much." As a 30-year veteran of the aerospace industry, perhaps Mike can breathe some new life into the already important aerospace industry here in T-Town. Make no mistake, Bunney may have an attitude of public service, but as Director of Economic Development, he will be paid his $125,000/year salary, which should help him cover his chamber dues, his policital donations, and his country club dues.

Perhaps he should also be given a car allowance so he can drive through the dilapidated streets of Tulsa and see the absolute glut of empty retail and commercial space available throughout the city. There's where the economic development need lies. Not in some new retail development, but energizing the inner city base. Maybe some tax credits or temporary abatements for businesses locating in the inner city for a period of time.

Here's my advice, take it or leave it. You want economic development in Tulsa? First address the public school situation with real school choice (not what TPS provides), then address the rampant crime problem (focus on drugs and gangs), then fix the streets. Then and only then will businesses see Tulsa as the place to be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Again!

When will this exodus stop?
When have you had enough?
Do you care one iota about Tulsa?
What are you willing to do?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where Did the Funds Go to Fix Our Streets?

With all the plans swirling around about fixing our streets and all the new taxes that will be required, I was wondering, where did the existing money go for fixing our streets?

As I blogged before, in a public meeting last fall Randi Miller stated to a group of about 30 business people that currently there were funds in excess of $200 million available to fix the Tulsa streets (she was referring to the City of Tulsa and not Tulsa County).

She said the problem was finding the contractors to do the job. With all the road construction downtown and on the myriad of other public projects in Tulsa, the labor to accomplish this is rather thin. And $200 million is quite a bit of money and would involve numerous projects that would keep contractors busy for years.

Perhaps our long term needs are in excess of $1 billion, but isn't that the infrastructure that was envisioned in the 3rd Penney sales tax? I suspect over the years that those funds have been siphoned off for other priorities.

Who can shed some light on this?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Invest In The Future and Plant a Tree

The December ice storm and resulting damage to Tulsa's urban forest is an event that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. Now that the clean-up is well under way, and things are getting back to normal, we can now more clearly see the extent of the damage.

How sad it is to see the magnitude of the tree damage! Lot's of trees will struggle to get back to health, but many are far too gone. This would be a good time to consider pesticide spraying to give your trees a chance to fight off the critters.

And this year consider planting a new tree or two in your yard. Fall is the best time to plant a tree, since our summers are so hot and dry, the root system needs time to get a good start. Planting a tree takes some faith, and is certainly an investment in the future. It takes a long, long time to see a shade tree reach its majestic maturity.

Plant one as a young person and sit under it's shade as a senior citizen. In the meantime, you can enjoy the beauty that is a tree.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ramblings on Romney

My good friend and former Tulsan now living in California sent me this information shortly after Fred Thompson dropped out of the Presidential race. He is a wise political pundit and articulate to boot.

"I never saw Fred creating a "firestorm" of passionate support in South Carolina. He is a conservative, but was never serious about running. It takes a person of high energy and willingness to take risks to run for President. I mean, the job only pays $400,000 and any good CEO can rent a helicopter. The inner fire comes from thinking that "I have the answer and I must win to solve the problem".

I have my absentee ballot in hand for the February 5th primary here in California. I will be making a mark next to Mitt Romney's name. I look at the overall qualifications of all the people in the race and Romney can win against Hillary. People have had a lot of choices so far, but as organization and money becomes an issue, the focus will narrow.

A lot of people hold his Morman beliefs against him. I listened to his speech on his church and he announced without hesitation and in a clear, strong voice: "I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior" and restated that he worshipped Christ and not any other deity. That is good enough for me. I am not voting for the Head Priest, I am voting for the President. Romney has the values and will appoint the types of judges we need to serve the Constitution instead of inventing it as they go along.

The Reagan Era is fading. In 1979 he presented a program that was revolutionary. Unlike other Cold War presidents, he proclaimed we could negotiate through increased strength and overwhelm the Soviets. This happened. He was conservative on taxes and wanted to decrease Government spending but Tip O'Neil and the Democrats spent on social programs while appropriating the money needed for a 700 ship Navy and implementation of MX missiles. He signaled to the Soviets he would talk, but it was "trust but verify".

The Republicans had 12 years holding both houses of Congress to implement the Reagan formula for smaller government. They caught the aphrodisiac of power and Lobbyist money and went along with "No Child Left Behind" and the "earmarked" Agriculture subsidy bill of 2005. Those 2 bills really bloated the budget at a time when we were supplying Iraq and the Mid East. That was the trade off for Democrat support on the war. The deficits are pure politics, and the pork is still being distributed in this election year. I believe Romney will use the veto pen, and I think he will call the bluff on the Democrats regarding Iraq. We are past the worst there and a Romney can effectively work in building an infrastructure. I mean, the guy went to China when he was with Bain Corporation and tried to buy a small appliance maker company. Ultimately the deal
wasn't done, but he is the only Presidential candidate that has hadto deal with the Chinese infrastructure at that level. The rest of these windbags except Rudy have been sitting around pontificating and pronouncing and haven't done a lick of work in their lives.

I am using a cold eyed, pragmatic view of the world we live in and think Romney is the kind of poker player we need to play these high stake games. The great thing about this country is that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves. As Will Rogers said " a difference of opinion is what makes missionaries and horse races"...."

It would certainly appear that the Reagan Revolution is fading away, but it's not gone yet!

Thanks Gary

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Guru to the Stars is Dead

The Maharishi Yogi has died at a reported age of 91 in the Netherlands. Death was attributed to natural causes, or old age.

He apparently died "peacefully". As a proponent of Transcendental Meditation, I would have expected no other outcome.

Baby Boomers certainly remember him as the guru to the Beatles, during the drug phase of their stardom. The general public scoffed at this eastern mystic, but with the popularity of the Beatles, it suddenly didn't seem so strange.

I'm OK. Are you OK?

Super Tuesday on Tulsa Time

At this stage of the political process, this chigger says it's Romney-baby!

What chiseled good looks! Executive governmental experience; self-made multi-millionaire; and his name is linked to the defunct American Motors Corp.

He says the right things, but in the political area, that's worth nothing. Is he really a closed moderate? Will America give us a chance to find out?

The most important thing you can do today as Tulsans is get out and vote.

Technologically Challenged

Being a part of the baby boom generation (I'm in the middle), it goes without saying that for the most part I am technologically challenged. Having just gotten familiar with the iPod, is it now time for the iPhone?

As Americans, we have come to expect rapid technological changes since that has been the pattern for our lifetimes. I for one rarely buy the latest gadget, but wait for the market to absorb it a bit and to allow time to get the kinks out. By the time I'm ready to buy, things have become a real bargain.

I've noticed that my sons have a short attentions span with new technology. The Playstation 3 purchased with such enthusiasm a few months ago, now sits idle. Good thing we didn't get the Xbox 360!

But technology has been a great tool for me as an entrepreneur. It's amazing what one or two people can do in a business that would have taken 8-10 people 20 years ago. Most of this is possible because of technology and especially the internet. Oh, and PayPal helps too!

Monday, February 04, 2008

TPS-The District of (Limited) Choice

This smiling group of elected volunteers, continues to perpetuate the myth that is public education in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Having made good on their previous threat to challenge the constitutionality of the Oklahoma Charter School Act, existing charter schools are fighting for their lives and new charter school initiatives have been stifled, while the taxpayers and citizens of Tulsa continue to get the raw end of the deal.

Hopefully this lawsuit will not languish in the courts, but will soon see the light of day. The Oklahoma Charter School Act states, if you care to read it, that it is a pilot program. The initial idea was to see how this reform would fly and then perhaps, if successful, there would be a broader application to the rest of the state. Well enough time has passed. And the charter schools have performed in a vastly superior academic way than its same-city counterparts.

Ken Neal of the Tulsa World predicted in an editorial last April, that passage of the amendments to the Oklahoma Charter School Act would mean a proliferation of new charter schools. Well, have we seen one new charter school since the amendments took effect last summer? NO! And this TPS lawsuit has stymied any such initiative. What higher education board in its right mind would take on the sponsorship of a charter school with this lawsuit still pending?

Its high time to do something. Contact your state legislators and communicate your support for charter schools, school choice in general, and vouchers specifically.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tulsa Weather Forecasters Left Out In The Cold

Once again, Tulsa's weather forecasters blew it. Universally forecasting 4-8 inches of snow, the Tulsa Metro area went into self-imposed hibernation. Local restaurants reported extremely slow sales on Thursday. Sporting events were rescheduled. Grocery store shelves were barren. People just stayed home, hunkered down for an impending blizzard that never showed up.

Despite the tremendous advances in technology and the massive spending on equipment and personnel by all local news stations, the weather in Oklahoma still holds the upper hand.

This was on the heels of missing the high temperature last Saturday by at least 10 degrees.

We must put TV weather forecasting in its proper place, a postscript to the more important local news, 3 to 4 minutes max.