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education

Michael Payne sorts through boxes of donated food at the end of the 2019 school year at Northeastern State University.
Caroline Halter / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has slashed funding for higher education by over 25 percent since 2008. In response, each public university has raised tuition, but the cuts have had a disproportionate effect on the state’s 11 regional institutions and the students they serve.

Two students at Ketchum Elementary School write on a dry-erase board during their speech class.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Gov. Kevin Stitt has abandoned a 2017 effort by the state to push schools to funnel more dollars into the classroom or risk consolidation.

It has been nearly one year since the teacher walkout, when thousands of educators flooded Oklahoma’s state capitol demanding better pay and more school funding. After nine days and little progress, they turned their attention to the 2018 elections.

Teachers, students and supporters march in front of the capitol on April 2 during a walkout aimed at increasing education funding.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

In Oklahoma, 30,000 teachers have left the profession in the past six years. That’s the eye-popping statistic that stands out in the latest Oklahoma Teacher Supply and Demand report, and it represents a loss of an average of 10 percent of the state’s teaching workforce—compared to a national average of 7.7 percent attrition.

Caroline Halter / KGOU

In this episode of Capitol Insider KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley speak with Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who shares her thoughts on the state's new report cards, regulating virtual charter schools, and school funding. 

Thousands more Oklahoma students were held back in early grades than what the U.S. Department of Education reported, according to newly released state data.

With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following.

Oklahoma City residents ask questions at a town-hall meeting about a trio of proposals to close schools, consolidate operations and make other changes throughout the district.
Lenora LaVictoire / StateImpact Oklahoma

At U.S. Grant High School in south Oklahoma City, administrators watch as 500 students eat lunch.

The lunchroom is small, and overcrowding has forced administrators to add lunch periods to feed all the students. Today, the first group will eat at 10:30 a.m. and the last will finish at 1:30 p.m. — one hour before school lets out.

In English class at The Academy of Seminole, students write descriptive essays.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Two years ago, the Oklahoma State Board of Education for the first time exercised its authority to approve a rural charter school.

The decision was contentious. A local school board had already denied the charter’s application twice, saying it was incomplete and there wasn’t enough support for the school.

 

The State Board overturned the local board’s decision, which left some wondering who’s really in control of their community.

Teachers, students and supporters march in front of the State Capitol on April 2, 2018, the first day of a teacher walkout aimed at increasing education funding.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A temporary measure allowing schools to exceed class-size limits without financial penalties will automatically end in five months unless the Legislature acts this session.

Students gather outside of Webster Middle School after classes on Jan. 24, 2019. Middle schools would include fifth-graders under an Oklahoma City Public Schools proposal.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Fifth graders in Oklahoma City Public Schools will be joining older peers in middle schools across the district under a proposal unveiled this week.

Educators march in front of the state Capitol on April 11, the teacher walkout’s eighth day.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The first post-walkout legislative session is getting underway and lawmakers have proposed bills aimed at alleviating the teacher shortage and making changes to the state’s public education system.

A Preview Of The Big Issues StateImpact Is Watching In 2019

Jan 4, 2019
Teachers rally at the state capitol during the teacher walkout.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Twenty-nineteen means a new governor for Oklahoma and a fresh class of state legislators — nearly 40 percent of whom have zero political experience. It’s a new year, but the state government’s slate hasn’t been wiped clean.

Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest policy issues on deck for the upcoming year and legislative session.

Students inside Shannon Dragoo’s third-grade class at Thelma Reece Parks Elementary School in Oklahoma City.
Mark Hancock / Journal Record

In this week's episode of the Business Intelligence Report, Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses Oklahoma City Public Schools’ effort to redesign its system, which could include closures and consolidations. Ray also talks about the decrease of fine arts classes available to Oklahoma students across the state.

Tricia Willyard, an educator who lives in Ketchum, struggled with her decision to retain her son in first grade, which school officials recommended. She later moved him to a different school, and he is doing well.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

As a first grader, Tricia Willyard’s son struggled to read. The educators at his school recommended he repeat first grade — something Willyard, herself an educator in a nearby district, at first opposed.

Oklahoma school districts 2018- 2019. Boundaries based on information provided by the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Center for Spatial Analysis / University of Oklahoma

Oklahoma has more than 500 school districts--up to three times more than some states with similar student populations. KGOU listener Beverly Funderburk emailed How Curious and asked: “How did Oklahoma end up with so many districts?”

 

The vertical water playground was designed so that children have to work together.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Gathering Place in Tulsa is the rare local park that’s made national headlines.

The $465 million project opened in September, transforming 66 acres alongside the Arkansas River into a theme park-like space. It was built mostly through private donations and is free to the public.

Epic Virtual Charter School’s dramatic growth has been driven in part by marketing efforts such as creating a children’s play area at Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City.
Mashiur Rahaman / Oklahoma Watch

Leaders of the state’s largest virtual charter school contributed at least $145,000 total to the campaigns of dozens of candidates this year, records reveal, a show of increasing political muscle as the school is experiencing dramatic growth.

Education is a top focus for many voters. Others, like Jason Retherford, a youth and family minister from Duncan, worry about the lack of economic opportunity. A poll found 57 percent of Oklahomans say jobs and economy are the main problems for families.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

If Daryl Fisher, a supervisor at a group home for young men, could fix one thing in Oklahoma, it would be education.

“Everybody always focuses on kids,” he said in an interview at a gas station in downtown Oklahoma City. “But are we really focusing on kids when we’re opening up more jails, trying to make more room, and not educating them? Are we really focusing on them?”

Students work on computers in a John Rex Charter Middle School classroom at the Myriad Gardens complex in Oklahoma City.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma is moving closer to changing the way it funds schools after a yearlong look at the education funding formula by a group of lawmakers and educators.

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