In a March 12 article in the Tulsa World ('Home sweet home: Home school well-protected by Oklahoma Constitution,'), staff writer Nora Froeschle reported that "as Oklahoma turns 100, so does home-schooling in the state, and many people believe it is one of the friendliest -- if not the friendliest -- state in the nation toward home-schoolers."
She's right. When it comes to educational freedom for homeschoolers, Oklahoma is hard to beat. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), "Oklahoma law does not require parents to use certified teachers or state-approved curricula, initiate contact with, register with or seek approval from state or local officials, test their students or permit public school officials to visit or inspect homes. If a parent is teaching his children the basic subjects for at least 180 days, the law requires nothing more."
Indeed, "Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to home school," HSLDA says. Our state constitution directs the legislature to provide for attendance at some public or other school -- "unless other means of education are provided."
During the Oklahoma constitutional convention a century ago, delegate J. S. Buchanan, a Democrat from Norman, suggested that this "other means of education" language be added. Delegate J. A. Baker from Wewoka, another Democrat, agreed: "I think Mr. Buchanan has suggested a solution. A man's own experience sometimes will teach him. I have two little fellows that are not attending a public school because it is too far for them to walk and their mother makes them study four hours a day."
The motion to add the "other means of education" language was seconded by none other than convention president William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, another Democrat.
"People ought to be allowed to use their own discretion as to how to educate their children," Mr. Baker said.
It appears that century-old sentiment still prevails. A 2004 survey by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates found that 69 percent of Oklahomans "favor the right of parents to home school their children." Only 26 percent oppose.
Nevertheless, some folks argue that homeschoolers should be subject to government regulation. For example, as Harvard-educated attorney Bruce Shortt reminds us, "Oklahoma's crack team of government educators, the folks who spend billions of dollars a year to achieve heretofore unknown levels of semiliteracy and illiteracy among otherwise normal children," periodically take time out from their educational misfeasance to call for regulation of homeschoolers.
But why should the unsuccessful regulate the successful? The U.S. Department of Education's "Nation's Report Card" tells us that 75 percent of Oklahoma's fourth-graders cannot read at grade level, and 71 percent of our fourth-graders are below grade level in math. If anything, Shortt says, "Oklahoma's homeschooling parents should regulate Oklahoma's public school bureaucrats until Oklahoma's public school students academically outperform homeschooled children."
I suspect homeschooling parents are content simply to enjoy their educational freedom. As the state's largest newspaper editorialized in 2002, "The Oklahoman is often critical of ... this state's unwieldy Populist Era constitution.
But today, more than ever, we are grateful for those who provided reasonable, explicit and just protection for parental prerogatives to direct and guide the education of their own children."
Rude, Crude and Socially Unacceptable
Saturday morning, March 10th, my family and I visited Tulsa to attend the Tulsa Home and Garden show. We had been looking forward to this event for some time since we are remodeling a centennial home.
Upon arriving, my husband let my 13 year old daughter and myself off at the front door while he went to park the car. A nice man was exiting a parking lot right in front of the main entrance and asked if I would like his space.
I thanked him and motioned my husband to the space. My daughter and I were standing there waiting for my husband to turn in when were were accosted by a man, and his wife, in a black Dodge Charger with an OSU plate on the front.
I told them my husband was right behind them but they refused to drive by. There were clear spaces a little further down so it's not as if this horrible couple would have had to walk far. Instead, he drove his car into my leg and frightened my daughter.
The elderly parking security officer (who was also a woman) asked him to leave but he refused. Two police officers came, listened only to the man, didn't even ask if we were okay, then made my family move on since this jerk already had his car halfway into the parking space!
I believe that letting thugs get away with being thugs just reinforces their wrong behavior. There is so much abuse of women, children and the elderly.
I feel confident that this couple would not have been so bold if a man had been standing there instead of a woman and a child. I'm sure most of Tulsa's law enforcement officers are wonderful, considerate people but the two young men that came to the scene were not.
So much for the justice system and so much for the friendly people of Tulsa. Instead of having the wonderful time planned, we had to come home and seek medical attention for my knee.
We drove several hours to attend this event, but the treatment we were subjected to absolutely ruined the day for us. I can now truly understand the saying..."LIFE'S A BED OF ROSES.....BUT WATCH FOR THE PRICKS"
Voice from the Past
Music lovers, I have seen thousands of musicians come and go. I have been playing in Tulsa clubs before some of our current bands were born. I used to sneak into bars to hear the older cats. My generation's talent pool was being raided when we were in our early twenties. That says something about the musicianship that has existed in this town.
Tulsa has now become anytown USA, with indistinctive bands of tired genres. There is a vacuous snobbery regarding covers and originals. Good music is good music, period. Many novices naively state that they will never play covers or play in bars. They deprive themselves of learning what makes a good song, and what works. Original does not automatically mean good. You learn what a good song is by dissecting good songs. Mozart rewrote themes by Bach, and there are few better than he. The Beatles played covers until the end.
My band has twenty years of originals; some work in bars and some don't. When we cover a song, we don't copy the record. We play the song. It comes out sounding like us.
Few bands have four hours of original quality music. That's why some clubs run four bands a night, and no one makes bus fare.
The musicians that endure are those that are aware of their history; that understand it, modify it somewhat and carry it forward. Medicine Show was the most significant band of the nineties. They got it. Hanson gets it too.
Check out the new Cale/Clapton album with Jimmy Karstien, David Teegarden, Walt Richmond and Gary Gilmore. If the Tulsa Sound was something only of the seventies, why is it part of one of the top sellers on the charts this very day? Because good music is timeless. Not bad for a "dead horse."
Urban Tulsa music columnist, 1990-1995
If the voters in this country think that our political representatives' indulgence in the issue of immigration indicates that they give a darn about security or our ability as individuals to provide a decent lifestyle for our families, let them think again.
We are being made to think that illegal immigration is a real concern and that it is a cause for concern because the job market is being diluted due to the influx of cheap labor. This is the biggest bunch of crud and is just the new divisive issue being introduced to have us going at each others throats. Can you say "Divide and conquer"?
And even as we despair over our jobs going to the Mexicans, the corporate aficionados of these very politicians are busy exporting our jobs in search of slave level salaries overseas. But nothing so far has surpassed the news out of Colorado where harsh laws were recently passed to restrict the employment of undocumented workers.
The new laws, seemingly, have caused the disappearance of agricultural laborers in Colorado and so there is no one left to reap the produce of the Colorado farmers. Without hesitation, the state officials have offered the service of their incarcerated citizens who now will provide an even better deal for the growers. Prisoners will now do the job for a mere 30 cents a day. It seems slavery is back and the new slaves will be garnered from the almost limitless supply of prison inmates around the country. What a deal!
This is shameless and exploitive and, at this present time, very American! We need another Wilberforce.
Colin T. Bent
Share this article: