EDUCATION discussions usually focus on what's wrong with the system. But several Oklahoma schools have gained national attention for all the right reasons.
Six made U.S. News and World Reports' ranking of the best schools in the country and Newsweek's list of America's 1,000 Best High Schools: Harding Charter Preparatory High School, Classen School of Advanced Studies, Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa), Edmond Memorial High School, Norman High School and Norman North High School. Also among U.S. News and World Reports' top 10 in Oklahoma are Edmond North High School, Dove Science Academy (Oklahoma City), Deer Creek High School and Edmond Santa Fe High School, while Newsweek's list also featured Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and Dove Science Academy (Tulsa). These schools, teachers and students deserve praise for this achievement.
Newsweek also ranked Harding the ninth-best Transformative High School in the Nation, an honor bestowed to schools that “achieve a remarkable amount in relation to the poverty of their communities” and do not restrict admission based on academics. Harding has a 100 percent graduation rate with 100 percent of graduates college-bound — yet 58 percent of the students got subsidized lunches, a measure of poverty. State Superintendent Janet Barresi's critics portray her as uninformed about the real challenges facing schools. But Harding, which she helped found, is on the “top” lists. The schools headed by most Barresi critics are not.
If the weather this week didn't offer enough proof, an online hazard mapping firm tells us that Oklahoma is a top destination for hail. Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Midwest City landed in the list of top 10 hail-prone metro areas. Colorado also contributed three cities, and Kansas and Texas had two each. While this compilation by Boston-based CDS Business Mapping, LLC., first reported last fall, is an unfortunate reminder of a natural phenomenon, it beckons us to be prepared and alert. Severe and strange weather has become all too familiar in this Tornado Alley state, but our communities continue to persevere, with Rumble of the Oklahoma City Thunder as an appropriate mascot.
An effort to ban American Indian imagery in team names and mascots may force one tribe to stop celebrating its heritage to assuage white liberal guilt. The Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians objects to an Oregon State Board of Education rule forcing its Siletz Valley Early College Academy to drop “The Warriors” as a team nickname. Tribal officials said the name ban “does nothing to address the real issues of racism nor does it address the issue of the low self-esteem of Native students attending public schools.” They add that the rule forces the tribe “to succumb to the misguided intentions of people who have no knowledge of Indian communities.” Obviously, some mascot names are offensive, but American Indians don't need to be protected from themselves. This takes political correctness way, way too far.
Some political stereotypes survive long past their expiration point. For example: Democrats are for the working man and Republicans are shills for evil big business. But The Wall Street Journal notes that J.P. Morgan Chase — of the notorious $2 billion loss — actually gave far more to Democrats than Republicans in 2008. That year, Democrats received $3.6 million compared with $2.3 million for Republicans. This election year, Mitt Romney is the bank's biggest recipient with $373,650 so far, but that still pales compared with $807,799 given Barack Obama in 2008. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup also bankrolled Democrats in a big way in 2008 before shifting to Republicans this cycle. Democrats and big business are clearly willing to get in bed together, although this administration's economic record is causing the banks to rethink that marriage of convenience.