Oklahoma Watch
7:00 am
Sun June 29, 2014

Is Oklahoma Spending Too Much On School Administration?

Credit Gerd Altmann /

The population of Le Flore County in southeastern Oklahoma is less than a tenth of Oklahoma County’s population. Yet Le Flore has 17 school districts compared to Oklahoma County’s 15.

At Reydon Public Schools in western Oklahoma, the superintendent makes $116,000 a year, including benefits, to oversee one of the smallest districts in the state, at 124 students. That’s $936 per student, compared to $6 for Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard, the highest paid superintendent this year, making  $260,000.

For years, conservative legislators and others have decried what they say are high administrative costs in Oklahoma districts and schools. They say the state’s K-12 system is top-heavy and wasteful. And they point to this as a reason not to increase Oklahoma’s per-pupil funding to levels found in most other states, and to expand school-choice options such as charter schools.

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Primary Elections
8:23 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Barresi Loans Campaign $910,000 In Personal Funds Last Month

State Superintendent Janet Barresi
Nate Robson Oklahoma Watch

The most recent campaign finance reports show State Superintendent Janet Barresi loaned her reelection campaign nearly $1 million in personal funds last month. Barresi's campaign manager told The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay the loans are necessary to counter negative attacks by her opponents.

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Oklahoma Voices
11:15 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Two Of Oklahoma’s Major Philanthropies Stay Grounded Through Local Focus

Oklahoma first lady Kim Henry, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry and Inasmuch Foundation President and Chairman of Oklahoma City Educare Bob Ross with children and a teacher at the dedication of Oklahoma City Educare, 2009.
Lisa Lloyd Saxum

A 2012 study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Oklahoma 11th in terms of generosity, with a typical Oklahoma household putting about 5.6 percent of its discretionary income toward charitable giving. 

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No Legislative Instructions for the Future
9:11 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Virtual Charter School Board Faces Staffing, Funding Bind

Credit Gerd Altmann /

  The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board may be left in a bind this upcoming school year due to unclear language in the bill that created it.

The bill calls for the State Department of Education to provide staffing until the end of this year but gives no indication as to whether the board has the authority to hire new staff or contract with the department for its current staff thereafter.

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Three Republicans and Four Democrats Running
8:49 am
Sun June 8, 2014

Common Core Repeal Heats Up Primary Race

Credit Gerd Altmann /

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin's decision to set aside Common Core education standards further heats up an already-hot race for state schools superintendent.

Fallin signed a bill Thursday repealing standards set to take effect in August. Oklahoma returns to guidelines in place before 2010, but will set new ones.

Both Fallin and incumbent state superintendent Janet Barresi initially supported Common Core but changed their positions. Even before the bill was passed, Barresi drew two GOP challengers this year. Conservatives have said they fear Common Core allows too much federal influence over state schools.

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State Capitol
11:27 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Oklahoma House Committee Approves Common Core Repealer

Credit comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

The bill that would repeal use of the Common Core state standards in Oklahoma was signed out of the House Common Education Conference Committee Wednesday.

State Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City), who presented the bill for House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview), said the bill would prohibit implementation of Common Core and sets up a “firewall” that would cease federal or private control of education.

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Oklahoma Voices
11:35 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Panel Explores How To Make History Vital To 21st Century Education

(L-R): Kyle Harper, Ronald White, Allen Guelzo, Joan Waugh, Ed Ayers, Vernon Burton, John Wilmerding.
Credit The University of Oklahoma / iTunesU

During the University of Oklahoma’s 2014 “Teach-In on the Civil War,” each speaker gathered on stage for a panel discussion about Freedom in America and Civic Education, moderated by OU interim provost and director of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage Kyle Harper.

Richmond University President Ed Ayers says in order to ensure its vitality, the humanities need to play offense, rather than defense.

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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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11:57 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Oklahoma City Schools Launch Plan To Improve Third Grade Reading Skills

Mark Twain Elementary second grade teacher Elizabeth Clarke staples together work from two of her second-grade students in this 2013 photo. These now-third-graders were the first to face retention if they didn't score at grade level on the state's reading test.
Credit Chase Cook / Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma City School District is launching new programs to help third-grade students after state assessments showed low scores in reading.  

Test scores released last week found that 27 percent of Oklahoma City public school third-graders scored unsatisfactory on the state reading test. Students could be held back unless they receive an exemption or get higher scores when they retake the tests.

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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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