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education

Matt Whittington, of Edmond, enrolled in Epic Charter Schools because the flexibility of online classes fit with his commitment to gymnastics. The family made special efforts to ensure that the arrangement worked.
Michael Willmus / Oklahoma Watch

Virtual charter schools stand to receive the largest share of local tax funding if a lawsuit by a pro-charter-school group is successful.

That gain could occur despite the fact that virtual schools have fewer expenses than brick-and mortar ones, with few or no buildings to purchase and no transportation to provide.

Newly Obtained Surveys Show Concerns Over Education Standards Law

Oct 26, 2017
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Advocates for students with disabilities, minority students and low-income students were among the stakeholders who weighed in on the state’s plan for education under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Some had recommendations adopted in the final plan, which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education last month.

Others say their concerns were brushed aside.

In just a few months, the Kansas legislature will gavel in and funding for public schools will be at the top of the agenda. It’s a perpetual problem — but this year lawmakers are facing a deadline imposed by the state’s Supreme Court, and 2018 is an election year.

Sam Zeff (@samzeff) from KCUR reports.

Fourth graders at Chattanooga Elementary School play during recess.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

On the playground at Chattanooga Elementary School some kids are pretending to be pirates, a few boys are climbing on a baseball dugout, and another group is belting out the words to various pop songs as they wriggle across the monkey bars.

This is the students’ third 15-minute recess of the day, and they’ll get one more before the end of the school day in the tiny southwestern Oklahoma town of about 450.

Added up: That’s an hour of recess a day — double what these kids got two years ago, and double what most kids in America get.

test with a pencil
shinealight / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Soon-to-be-released statewide test scores are expected to be much lower than they were in the past, but top education officials say the drop is due to a more difficult grading system, not poor-performing students.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says the state has a new way of measuring student proficiency.

“This has been a time of recalibrating,” she said in an interview after a press conference held with reporters to explain the declining scores.

Elizabeth Sims / Oklahoma Watch

At least nine student athletes in Putnam City Public Schools suffered a concussion playing sports last school year.

More than a dozen sustained one in Norman Public Schools.

In Tulsa Public Schools, 38 students suffered a concussion in the 2016-2017 school year, with the district reporting 13 more in the first six weeks of this year. Edmond Public Schools’ three high schools recorded 62 concussions.

Students at Luther High School watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech" before a class discussion.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Polls suggest this is one of the the most politically divided moments in American history. There are now tip sheets on how to survive Thanksgiving without disowning your family, and the comment sections of online news articles are full of vitriol.

Schools are not immune to the tension, but not everyone thinks that’s a bad thing.

Ramona Roberts, a special education teacher in Jenks Public Schools, works with students Tim Foster (center), Michael Copeland (left), Elijah Sexton (bottom right) and Hunter Falconer (right). Jenks has had special education teacher vacancies in the past,
Sherman Merchant / Jenks Public Schools

Special education teachers have become so scarce that districts face fierce competition to find and keep good candidates and sometimes leave open positions unfilled.

That’s why late one night in August, Ponca City Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Arrott sprang into action when she heard the distinctive ding of her cell phone. The alert meant a job application had been submitted online to the district. She scrambled to arrange an interview the next morning for the applicant.

New Law Gives Oklahoma More Responsibility In Finding And Fixing Failing Schools

Sep 22, 2017
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister
Oklahoma State Department of Education

Many people say the former massive federal education law, No Child Left Behind, was a failure. When President George W. Bush signed it in 2002, he set a huge goal for the country: Every child would meet the proficiency standard on state tests by 2014.

But, that never happened.

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Reducing schools’ use of emergency certified teachers by 95 percent and boosting high school graduation to 90 percent are some of the goals set by the state Education Department in its plan for education under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The state also proposes attacking hunger in schools and is considering forcing failing schools that are on a four-day school week to change their calendar.

Bansari Mehta
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

When Bansari Mehta first left India to pursue a master’s degree in Oklahoma, she was surprised by how often she was asked to point to her home country on the map.

“Those were the days that I realized that there is something that’s missing,” Bansari told KGOU’s World Views. “As lovely as the people of Oklahoma are, they did not have much of a broader understanding about things outside of the state or outside of the country.”

Reveal: Follow The Money

Aug 28, 2017
How much is President Donald Trump worth? And is he or anyone in his administration profiting from their positions? Reveal is teaming up with the Center for Public Integrity to investigate those questions.
Michael Schiller / Reveal

Update, Aug. 26, 2017: On this episode of Reveal, we introduce #citizensleuth – a collaboration with the Center for Public Integrity. The project aims to answer questions such as “How much is President Donald Trump worth?” or “Is he or anyone in his administration profiting from their positions?”  We’ve created a database listing all the assets that members of his administration have disclosed and we’re asking the public to take part in our investigation.

Lewis Elementary / Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

This year, two of Oklahoma’s largest school districts are embarking on an expensive technological experiment: They’re giving students their own laptops to use in class — and take home.

Rich Anderson is in charge of making sure Edmond Public School’s laptop program rolls out smoothly.

“In my mind, I’m calling it ‘C-day’,” he says.

Abstaining from sexual activity is a surefire way to prevent pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted diseases. But programs advocating abstinence often fail to prevent young people from having sex, researchers write in the September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Such programs, sometimes referred to as "abstinence only until marriage" programs, typically advocate monogamous, heterosexual marriage as the only appropriate context for sexual intercourse and as the only certain way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Update, Aug. 21: The Oklahoma City Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution to pursue a lawsuit, or lawsuits, against the state. All board members were present except Carrie Jacobs.

Oklahoma City Public School's Superintendent Aurora Lora and Board of Education member, Mark Mann, announce plans to sue the legislature over education funding.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education is considering legal action against the legislature for underfunding education.

Board member Mark Mann said the Oklahoma Legislature puts mandates on schools without giving them enough money to fulfill the obligations, which he says creates unfunded liabilities for Oklahoma City Public Schools and other districts across the state.

How should educators confront bigotry, racism and white supremacy? The incidents in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend pushed that question from history to current events.

New Rating System Proposed For Virtual Schools

Aug 11, 2017
Stephen Chin / Flickr

The state agency that oversees virtual schools has proposed a new grading system to improve oversight of the schools, which have experienced persistent low academic performance coupled with climbing enrollment.

Lindsay Judd will be one of hundreds of emergency certified teachers taking the helm of Oklahoma classrooms this year.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma schools are becoming more and more reliant on teachers with no training.

A lack of school funding, low pay, and waning morale have driven many of the experienced teachers out of the classroom, or out of the state.

Questions Linger On Dismissal Of Charges In Hofmeister Case

Aug 7, 2017
Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister takes questions from reporters Tuesday after criminal charges against her and four others were dismissed.
Oklahoma Watch

Just as suddenly as they appeared in November, criminal charges against Oklahoma schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister disappeared on Tuesday. And the reasons remain a mystery.

At a news conference, surrounded by her attorney, family and supporters, Hofmeister appeared elated and relieved. She and four others no longer faced charges of conspiracy to circumvent campaign finance laws in Hofmeister’s 2014 bid for office.

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