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education

Students at John Rex Charter Middle School in Oklahoma City – sixth graders Finley Cunningham, top left, Direon Kelley, bottom left, Charlie Marshall and Taylor Ellis – sit on cushions in the hallway during a break from schoolwork.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

There are 75 middle-school students in the long, sunlit room, sitting four to a table.

They work quietly and independently on laptops, most wearing headphones. Some fidget, their chairs rocking with them.

Brody Smith is an incoming junior at Noble High School.
Mia Mamone / KGOU

Danica Thompson settles into a couch in the back of Gray Owl Coffee in Norman, where patrons tap away on laptops or read books, surrounded by the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and pastries.

Crescent Public Schools Superintendent Bart Watkins said while his district spend a relatively high percentage of its funding on instruction, it has been forced to make cuts, including in number of positions.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Amid an intensifying drumbeat of political promises to propel schools to spend more of their dollars in the classroom, Crescent Public Schools stands out.

Ainsley Hoover, a teacher in Enid Public Schools, says the nine-day teacher walkout helped her realized that she has to stay politically engaged if she wants change.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

On the night of the primary elections, Ainsley Hoover was at a small watch party at the Chili’s restaurant in Enid. She had helped her friend, a fellow teacher, campaign for House District 41,  and they were anxiously awaiting the results.


Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

When the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 1010XX in March, it was the first time lawmakers had increased state taxes in 28 years. Both the House and the Senate applauded themselves.

The governor acted swiftly to sign the bill, and at first, it seemed like a reason for school leaders to celebrate. They had been begging lawmakers to increase teacher pay for years, and it finally happened.


Eric Haynes of Ada, Okla., says poorly maintained roads and sidewalks are among the biggest issues his community faces.
Caroline Halter / KGOU

Oklahoma voters will pick their primary candidates on June 26 and weigh in on a state question about legalizing medical marijuana. The political heat will build through the summer with high-profile endorsements, big-money ad blitzes and campaign promises.

Blake Sonne, the lawyer representing Professional Oklahoma Educators, talks with reporters after presenting oral arguments before the State Supreme Court.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday over the legality of a petition to overturn new state taxes.

The petition, which is being circulated by an anti-tax group called Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, seeks to overturn HB1010xx, a $430 million tax package lawmakers passed this year.

Josh Edelson / AP Images

Patients in Oklahoma will pay one of the highest tax rates for medical marijuana among the 30 states that currently offer it if State Question 788 is approved by voters this month, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis.

National Weather Service

Marvin Haworth walks through a house frame that’s under construction in the Seiter Farms development in Moore, Oklahoma.

“You see these hurricane clips right there? You see one at every rafter in the house. They’re all tied to the wall, so that rafter cannot be pulled loose from the wall,” Haworth says as he points toward the connection between the frame’s walls and roof.

Proposal Would Expand Unproven Concept: Online-Only Alternative Schools

May 25, 2018
Creative Commons CC0 / Pixnio

The state’s largest virtual charter school wants to open an alternative high school for at-risk students, saying the school will better address the needs of struggling students who already attend or will enroll in its regular online school.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Deborah Gist cried as she stepped across the small stage in front the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools and a group of educators had just finished a 110-mile walk from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to highlight their fight for more school funding.


Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

For the first time ever, students can attend an Oklahoma private school part-time yet have most or all of the tuition paid by scholarships funded through a state tax-credit program.

The scholarship program, promoted by school-choice advocates, is typically used to subsidize tuition costs for full-time students at private schools.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

George Wang, a senior at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, recently made a discovery that disrupts a fundamental theory in chemistry.


Teacher Shortage Forces Schools To Rely On Aides, Assistants

May 8, 2018
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Nancy Novosad has spent the last 27 years surrounded by students in Yukon classrooms, but she’s not a teacher.

She alternates between helping the teacher and helping the students. Novosad wipes noses, applies bandages, plans arts and crafts activities, opens milk cartons, leads story time, and packs and unpacks backpacks. She also passes out papers, explains assignments, takes students to the restroom and reinforces lessons taught by Elizabeth Wilson, a pre-K teacher at Ranchwood Elementary School.

Breaking Down The Impact Of The 2018 Legislative Session

May 8, 2018
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The curtain fell Thursday night on the 2018 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, leaving indelible memories of chanting crowds and heated rhetoric.

This spring’s session – as well as the concurrent special session that carried over from last year – was dominated by the teacher walkout and the intense debate over tax increases to pay for teacher raises and to boost public education funding.

But lawmakers’ actions went well beyond those critical issues.

Oklahoma Teachers Move Science Lessons Outside And Away From Textbooks

Apr 26, 2018
Zoe Travers / StateImpact Oklahoma

The state’s market for engineering and technology jobs is growing, but the test scores of Oklahoma students lag behind national averages on science and math test scores. Researchers say one way to fix this gap is training science educators to do more than teach the facts — and to think beyond the textbook.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

One of the most iconic images of the teacher walkout and the cuts to education funding that drove the movement was of tattered, duct-taped, antiquated textbooks.

Across the country, universities are being criticized over issues of money: from how they spend their endowments, to how they raise tuition, to how they award financial aid.
Michael Schiller / Reveal

It’s no secret that college is getting more expensive – or that America’s student debt has erupted into a full-on crisis. But it’s not just loans that are putting pressure on Americans seeking an education. As this week’s episode explains, students face a variety of obstacles, from rising tuition rates to hard-line immigration laws.

Oklahoma State Department of Education

The education advocacy that fueled the teacher walkout also led to a surge of candidates filing for office, including a few surprises in the race for state superintendent.

Joy Hofmeister, state superintendent of instruction, drew four opponents.

Hofmeister, 53, will face two Republican challengers in the June primary: Linda Murphy, of Edmond, and Will Farrell, of Tulsa. Murphy, 66, is a public policy consultant who twice ran against Sandy Garrett for state superintendent. Farrell, 32, is a student at Oklahoma State University and a legal assistant at a Tulsa law firm.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The end of the widespread teacher walkout doesn’t mean questions surrounding Oklahoma’s education funding are settled.

Voters will head to the polls this November to chose Oklahoma’s next governor and elect a large swath of the Legislature. But it’s a pair of proposed state questions, which may or may not ultimately appear on the ballot, that could decide if teachers lose recently approved raises or possibly receive further pay increases.

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