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Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister discusses school issues during her interview for KGOU's Capitol Insider.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

In this bonus Capitol Insider interview, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley sit down with Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister to talk about education issues, including the state's revised A through F school grading system, teacher pay and four day school weeks. 

Oklahoma Schools Beset by High Principal Turnover

Apr 18, 2017
Brad Gibson / Oklahoma Watch

For decades, principals have come and gone at Tulsa’s McLain High School so frequently, it’s nearly unheard of for a student to complete all four years of high school without seeing a new face in the principal’s office.

The school has had at least 11 principals or co-principals since 2000 and now is losing yet another one, who, after three years in the job, is leaving after the school year.

Oklahoma state Rep. Charles McCall, right, R-Atoka, Speaker of the House, answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 13, 2017. McCall discussed the budget and teacher pay raises.
Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

 

 


 

What happened at the Capitol this week?

 

Oklahoma lawmakers are plugging away at a 2018 state budget--figuring out where the state’s money will come from and where it will go.

 

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Students as young as pre-K can be, and are, suspended from Oklahoma schools for as long as the remainder of the school year for violating school rules.

A proposal working its way through the Legislature would expand that by mandating lengthy suspensions for elementary students as young as third grade for assault or attempted assault against a teacher, school employee or volunteer. Currently, a default punishment of suspension for the rest of the semester and entire next semester starts in sixth grade.

Aubrielle McElroy eats breakfast in her classroom at Remington Elementary in Tulsa. All elementary schools in the Tulsa Public Schools district started offering free breakfast and lunch to all students without requiring applications at the start of the sc
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

At all elementary and middle schools and some high schools in the Houston Independent School District — 220 in all — every student begins the day with a free breakfast right in the classroom.

The result: fewer absences and discipline problems and an increase in math scores, according to the district’s former superintendent Terry Grier.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Among the deluge of bills filed by state legislators in advance of the upcoming session are more than two dozen proposals to boost teacher pay.

Teachers, disappointed by the defeat of State Question 779, which would have generated about $550 million a year for education through a 1 percent sales tax, say they’re counting on legislators to do more than just talk.

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will invest $2 million dollars in career development programs over the next three years. The money comes from a grant funded by JPMorgan Chase.

 

The U.S. economy is projected to produce millions of high-skill, well-paying jobs over the next decade, but more and more kids are graduating from high school unprepared for college or a career.

 

So JPMorgan Chase is pumping $20 million dollars into 10 states to change that. Oklahoma is one of those states.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Lawmakers will take another stab at increasing teacher salaries, will attempt to stymie four-day school weeks and try to eliminate the end-of-year exam in U.S. history.

With the filing deadline on Jan. 19, bills have been streaming in, including many related to common education. Additional bills could surface later because of exceptions to the deadline and shell bills whose language is often replaced mid-session.

Jimmy Hartford teaches an AP calculus class to 10 students at Cushing High School.
David Britton / Oklahoma Watch

Participation in advanced-level math and science classes in high school is a strong predictor of success in college, regardless of the grade earned in the class or whether it results in college credit, studies show.

Iranian schoolgirls wearing headscarves, background, gather in a courtyard at a female school as schoolboys play soccer in their school in this photo taken in Feb. 2002 in Tehran.
Hasan Sarbakhshian / AP

Before he started graduate school and became a university professor, Shervin Malekzadeh taught public school in low-income and minority communities in Washington, D.C. and California.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister listens as researchers present the new A-F school report card system , December 15, 2016.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The way Oklahoma's A-F report cards are calculated may soon change. 

The State Board of Education approved a new grading system Thursday, and it will now go before the Legislature for final approval.

The new system, set to go in to effect for the 2017-2018 school year, proposes using a single letter grade with no pluses or minuses. However, the overall report card will be presented like a dashboard, with seven different criteria adding up to one score.

Epic Virtual Charter School has been operating in Oklahoma since 2011, and just opened a new location in Orange County, California a few months ago. However, local superintendents in the O.C. area already want Epic shut down.

Officials from the Anaheim Union High School District and Anaheim Elementary School District have filed a lawsuit against the Orange County Board of Education for approving Epic’s charter in November 2015, despite staff recommendations not to. They say the charter was approved illegally and in violation of California’s Charter School Act.

Two Oklahoma City Community College employees have resigned amid an investigation into academic fraud at the school.

In August, an OCCC employee told authorities that her supervisor was altering test scores and enrollment information, which would reflect inflated numbers in order to gain money for state and federal grants.

Josh Gwartney, principal of the early childhood center at Chouteau-Mazie Public Schools, displays the paddle available to be used on students.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

All schools should stop paddling students as a form of discipline because it’s “harmful, ineffective, and often disproportionately applied to students of color and students with disabilities,” U.S. Secretary of Education John King wrote in a letter Tuesday to all state governors and schools chiefs.

Capitol Hill Elementary School in south Oklahoma City.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Aurora Lora thanked voters yesterday for approving a $180 million bond issue.

"You know, it's been really wonderful. My phone was dinging all night with people just reaching out saying they're so happy for the school district,” Lora said during a news conference. “And for the teachers and students, just so that we're going to be able to address the issues that we've got, and really get focused on academics now.”

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has asked for $15 million to implement a system lawmakers passed last year that would help retain highly effective teachers.

The Legislature didn't have the funds to pay for the so-called “Iowa model” as part of House Bill 3114. The Education Department asked for the money Thursday as part of its budget request for Fiscal Year 2018.

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The State Board of Education released the newest A-through-F school report cards at Thursday’s board meeting.

Overall, grades were down this year. This year’s tally included 196 A’s, 455 B’s, 582 C’s, 319 D’s and 213 F’s. By contrast, in 2015, schools earned 212 A’s, 497 B’s, 536 C’s, 333 D’s and 183 F’s.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she isn’t sure why there's a dip, and said it would be irresponsible to make a guess, but her department will start digging through the data looking for answers.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma leads the nation in education cuts based on per pupil spending, and those cuts are nearly double those of the next-closest state.

A report out last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Oklahoma's per-pupil funding fell by nearly 27 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2017.

Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II speaks at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s State of Aerospace luncheon Tuesday at the Embassy Suites Oklahoma City Downtown/Medical Center.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Earlier this week the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber held its annual State of Aerospace luncheon to update the business community on both the military and civilian sides of the industry.

Tinker Air Force Base wants to work with small businesses, but The Journal Record’s senior reporter and digital strategist Sarah Terry-Cobo says the federal government’s seven-year budget impasse means defense contractors suffer from a pay delay.

Video Breakdown: State Question 779

Oct 17, 2016

As KGOU and KOSU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

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