Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.

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Oklahoma Watch
11:28 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Districts Say Reading Retention Changes Won’t Mean Social Promotion

Wesley Fryer Flickr Creative Commons

Changes to Oklahoma’s third grade reading retention law will not be a blank check to pass students on to fourth grade if they failed the state’s reading test.

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Oklahoma Watch
8:45 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Social Media Reaction To House, Senate Override Of Fallin’s Reading Retention Veto

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Gov. Mary Fallin's veto to changes in Oklahoma's third grade reading retention law was short-lived Wednesday.

Both the House and Senate voted to override the veto, a move that paves the way for parents to work with teams of teachers and reading specialists to determine if their child will advance to fourth grade if they failed the third grade reading test.

Reaction of the override quickly flooded Twitter:

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Oklahoma Watch
10:47 am
Mon May 19, 2014

$80 Million K-12 Increase May Have Limited Impact On Per-Pupil Funding

Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma could add $80 million to K-12 education funding in a budget deal announced by Gov. Mary Fallin Friday, but it’s unclear how it will impact Oklahoma’s per-pupil funding levels.

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Business and Economy
8:32 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Declining Corporate Tax Collections Biggest Contributor To Oklahoma’s Revenue Slump

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma is one of only seven states in the nation where revenues available for appropriation are falling below expectations despite growth in the broader economy, according to a newly released survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The conference, in its spring 2014 state budget update, attributed Oklahoma's revenue shortfall primarily to an unanticipated decline in corporate tax collections. It said the same problem is creating budget difficulties in Delaware and Tennessee.

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Education
1:02 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

A Recap Of Monday's Vote On Oklahoma Reading Retention Bill

State Rep. Katie Henke (R-Tulsa) speaking during a press conference after Monday's House vote.
Nate Robson Oklahoma Watch

Three days after it was announced that nearly 8,000 Oklahoma students are at risk of repeating the third grade for failing the state’s reading test, lawmakers voted to change the state’s retention requirements.

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Oklahoma Watch
10:18 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Oklahoma Reading Retention Bill May Be Heard Monday

Nick Conroy Oklahoma Watch

Students worried about repeating third grade for failing Oklahoma’s reading test will have to wait until Monday for a potential legislative reprieve – a move that would come three days after school districts get the test scores back.

Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, said she will push to get the bill she co-authored heard on Thursday, but was promised by House leadership that the bill will be heard Monday.

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Oklahoma Watch
7:32 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Teacher Pay Raise Could Cost Oklahoma $100 Million Per Year

Lee Elementary School pre-kindergarten teacher Victoria Tsaras gets active with her students, dancing to “What Does the Fox Say?”
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

How much would a $2,000 a year raise for Oklahoma public school teachers cost? The state Department of Education estimates the price tag is close to $100 million a year.

A rough estimate giving each of the state’s 43,915 teachers a $2,000 raise would cost about $87.8 million a year, but that number does not include a corresponding increase in benefits.

State Department of Education spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton said a boost in benefits brings the state’s estimate to about $100 million a year.

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Oklahoma Watch
9:00 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Oklahoma Looks To Kentucky As Prescriptions Fall In States With Required 'Doctor-Shopping'

The Javoric Flickr Creative Commons

When the state of Kentucky decided two years ago to require doctors to check their patients’ drug-taking histories before writing new narcotic prescriptions, some physicians were adamantly opposed.

The doctors said mandatory checks would cause them to waste valuable time and money running checks on patients with legitimate pain and anxiety problems. They said they didn’t need an online database to help them spot “doctor-shoppers” who might be obtaining prescriptions from more than one doctor.

Then, a funny thing happened.

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Oklahoma Watch
12:31 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Teachers Speak Out At Oklahoma Watch-Out Forum

Panelists at the Oklahoma Watch-Out forum were Estella Bitson, principal of Hawthorne Elementary School; Dallas Koehn, teacher at Union 9th Grade Center, and Meredith Brown, teacher at Disney Elementary School, all in Tulsa.
Carmen Forman Oklahoma Watch

Teacher pay and school accountability were among the biggest topics discussed during a community forum Wednesday evening tackling issues facing Oklahoma public-school teachers.

A panel of educators, joined by other teachers and representatives from education and public-policy groups in the audience, talked about the challenges they see in schools and classrooms on a daily basis.

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Oklahoma Watch
6:46 am
Mon April 28, 2014

With Nearly Lowest Pay In U.S., Oklahoma Schools Struggle To Recruit Teachers

ECDC Public School's class watches intently as teacher Sommer Lyons shares the story of the Easter Bunny.
Nick Conroy Oklahoma Watch

Like leaks in a levee, teacher shortages are springing up faster than Oklahoma school districts can respond.

Now, instead of shortages mainly in math, science and special education, schools are grappling with vacancies in all departments and grade levels, according to lawmakers and district recruiters.

Oklahoma City Public Schools has 403 teaching vacancies that need to be filled before next school year, up from levels three years ago, recruiters said. Tulsa Public Schools is struggling to fill 84 positions, up from the typical 30 to 40 vacancies. Smaller districts are also struggling to recruit.

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