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education

Raising The Kindergarten Age In Oklahoma May Leave Some Children Out

Aug 15, 2019
Heather Canales reads to children in a pre-kindergarten class at WovenLife, which offers early childhood development in Oklahoma City. Photo taken on August 1, 2019.
Lenora LaVictoire / StateImpact Oklahoma

A controversial proposal in the Oklahoma state legislature would delay the age kids would be eligible to start kindergarten and put Oklahoma on-trend with dozens of other states. But some childhood experts say the trend may not serve Oklahoma kids well.

Did Lobbying Efforts Influence Spending On School Panic Button?

Aug 2, 2019
The Rave Mobile Safety app features a large "active shooter" button at the top and other buttons for reporting emergencies such as a fire or medical emergency.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A $3 million taxpayer-funded program will soon give schools across the state access to a relatively untested “panic button” app that can alert authorities and staff if there is an active shooter, fire or emergency in the school.

A sign is seen outside of 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City, where Epic Charter Schools leases 40,000 square feet for administrative use.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma investigators believe Epic Charter Schools embezzled money by inflating its enrollment with homeschool and private school students. Because of the state’s dedication to privacy, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says the alleged abuse would not have been preventable under current state law.

A sign is seen outside of 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City, where Epic Charter Schools leases 40,000 square feet for administrative use.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A state investigator’s search warrant filed in court Tuesday seeks evidence of alleged embezzlement of state funds and obtaining money under false pretenses at Epic Charter Schools, including through the use of “ghost students” who receive no actual instruction at the school.

Sixth grade science teacher Melissa Lau prepares a lesson on climate change using "tree cookies" for her students at Piedmont Intermediate on July 1, 2019.
Caroline Halter / StateImpact Oklahoma

Melissa Lau is preparing for the coming school year. She teaches 6th grade science in Piedmont, just northwest of Oklahoma City. Inside her classroom, she’s laid out over thirty cross sections from the trunks of red cedar trees. Each ring represents one year of growth. Lau calls them “tree cookies.” 

Former Epic Teachers Describe Pressure To Manipulate Enrollment

Jun 27, 2019
Epic Charter Schools' is transforming its testing site in Midwest City to a blended center that will serve students in grades 7 through 12.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Administrators at Epic Charter Schools have been allowing, encouraging or pressuring teachers to manipulate students’ enrollment for years in order to improve employees’ bonus pay, according to at least seven former teachers.

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.

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