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education

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.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

After nine days of rallying at the state capitol, union leaders say the Oklahoma teacher walkout is over.

The president of the Oklahoma Education Association, Alicia Priest, said on Thursday that despite thousands of people calling on lawmakers to increase school funding, educators have seen no significant legislative movement since last Friday.

She said the union polled its members, and a majority doubted that continuing the walkout would result in more money for schools.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma students lost ground in reading proficiency in the past two years, erasing gains they had made in 2015, newly released data from the “Nation’s Report Card” show.

Nationally, students’ reading scores held steady.

The decline was significant and could raise questions about the efficacy of the state’s third-grade retention policy. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister attributed 2015 gains to the policy.

Hofmeister said Tuesday the results were “deeply concerning.”

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A Catholic priest is accused of sexual misconduct on the campus of St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee and former students and faculty have questioned whether officials at the now-shuttered college failed to properly investigate complaints.

Two women have filed a lawsuit against the university, which closed and filed bankruptcy in December, and St. Gregory’s Abbey, where the priest resides.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

For the fifth time since Oklahoma teachers left their classrooms, House Republicans refused to hear a bill that would end a lucrative tax break for high earners and potentially bring an end to the one-week-old teacher walkout.

Eliminating the capital gains tax deduction – something that largely benefits the wealthy – would free up $100 million or more a year that could be used for education and to shore up the state budget. A state-commissioned consulting group last year recommended the tax break be repealed.

Oklahoma Teacher Pay Dispute: Factoring In Cost of Living

Apr 6, 2018
Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Teachers in about 70 Oklahoma school districts staged a week of walkouts over low pay and slender school budgets. A common talking point is that they are paid far less than teachers nationwide.

Lawmakers and the governor agreed that education spending should rise after many years of austerity, passing a tax increase to help cover a salary hike of about $6,100 a year.

But many teachers say they’re looking for a long-term commitment to both wages and school support.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

A controversial proposal to end a tax break that benefits fewer than 18,000 Oklahomans – the vast majority of whom make upwards of $200,000 – is at the center of the debate over how lawmakers can find more money for education and potentially end the teacher walkout.

Teachers, education advocates and House Democrats have launched a renewed push since the teacher work stoppage began on Monday for the Legislature to pass a bill that would eliminate the state’s capital gains deduction.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Police Sgt. Jeff Crawford is breaking his routine. He’s leaving the office and climbing into his squad car because Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers and supporters are rallying at the state Capitol to demand more school funding.

Crawford is a school resource officer who normally works out of Douglass Mid-High School. He has left his post temporarily to check on elementary schools and community centers in eastern Oklahoma City that are feeding kids who depend on the meals they get in school.

Photos: These Are The Faces Of The Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

Apr 3, 2018
Megan Ross / Unfiltered

On the first day of the Oklahoma teacher walkout, more than 30,000 people demonstrated at the state capitol, including teachers, school staff, students, parents and state employees.  These are just a few of the teachers who participated in the walkout, as well as their supporters.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Boosting teacher pay by an average of $6,000—which the Legislature approved last week—wasn’t enough to put the brakes on a massive shut-down of schools to rally at the state Capitol. An estimated 30,000 people attended Monday’s rally, and many school districts are closed again Tuesday so the walkout can continue.

UPDATED: 11:14 p.m.

A revenue package that included several tax increases passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Monday night, the first time a tax increase has passed the House in 28 years.

It was a late night for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an effort to avoid a teacher and public employee walkout next week. After several failed attempts over the last 17 months to find funding for a teacher pay raise, Democrats and Republicans struck a deal over the weekend.

Oklahoma state Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP Photo

Teachers are preparing to walk out of the classroom starting April 2, and several legislators have proposed plans to avoid the work stoppage. One in particular, proposed by former teacher Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, would raise pay for both teachers and state employees.

Laboratory manager Karim Saadeddine prepares a soil sample for testing at TerraCon Consultants, 4701 N. Stiles Ave. in Oklahoma City. TerraCon holds a summer jobs program for teachers.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Oklahoma’s education department is looking for companies to host teachers this summer.

Last year, a pilot program placed teachers with companies that hire people in science, math, engineering and technology, or STEM, related fields. The state is trying to expand the program this year.

Reveal

Federal law requires colleges and universities to track and disclose sexual assaults on campus. It’s different for kindergarten through 12th grade, where there are no similar requirements for cases involving assaults between students. In elementary, middle and high schools across the U.S., the Associated Press found a shocking level of sexual violence among students, including on U.S. military bases.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Norman Students Walk Out To Protest Gun Violence

Mar 14, 2018
Storme Jones / KGOU

More than 400 students at Norman High School walked out of class to protest gun violence on Wednesday morning, joining thousands of young protesters from across the country, one month after a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Oklahoma Watch

A threatened teacher walkout in early April casts a shadow over the legislative session and could disrupt the lives of parents, children, educators and many others should it go on for days or weeks.

State employees also are planning a multi-agency work stoppage on April 2, which would widen and deepen the impact.

Interviews Show Teachers On A Collision Course With Unwavering Lawmakers

Mar 9, 2018
Jennifer Palmer / Oklahoma Watch

It became official Thursday: The largest, most organized voice for Oklahoma teachers issued an ultimatum to legislators that teachers will shut down much of Oklahoma’s public-school system indefinitely unless serious money is found to boost teacher pay and education funding.

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