Oklahoma's new school report cards are much in the news lately, and there's been no shortage of complaining about them from some of our friends in the education establishment.
In truth, the establishment should count its blessings. For as long as parents and taxpayers are talking about Oklahoma's A-F report cards — how does Oklahoma City compare to Edmond? How does Putnam City stack up against Piedmont? — they're not talking about how Oklahoma's school districts stack up against the rest of the world.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center recently released the newest version of its “Global Report Card,” a data tool that allows users to compare a local school district's math and reading achievement with the achievement in other developed countries. The Atlantic featured the data tool on its website with an accompanying article, “How Does Your Child's School Rank Against the Rest of the World?”
Go to GlobalReportCard.org. You'll see that some of Oklahoma's best school districts — districts with admittedly impressive artificial turf — are not keeping pace internationally.
For example, if you picked up the Jenks school district and plopped it down in Finland, the average Jenks student would be at the 30th percentile in math achievement. In Singapore, the average Jenks student would be at the 27th percentile. Some districts that got an “A” on the Oklahoma report card — even some that got a perfect 4.0 — are mediocre by international standards.
What's the solution? More government spending on Oklahoma's schools? In 2010, SoonerPoll asked Oklahoma voters if they agreed with this statement: “If more money is spent on public schools in my district, students will learn more.” Only 32 percent of respondents agreed with that statement, while 64 percent disagreed. Even Oklahoma Democrats (39 percent to 57 percent) don't think more money will improve student learning.