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education

Rodney Redus of Oklahoma City votes at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics polling location in Tuesday's primary. Only 47 voters had cast their ballots at the site as of 2:30 p.m.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The potential size of a so-called “teacher caucus” in the Legislature was significantly whittled down Tuesday after 20 current or former educators lost their primary battles.

Many of the candidates running on a platform of increasing state funding for public schools and teacher salaries were taken down by members of their own party and will not advance to November’s general election.

Amber England, the director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, calls the OCPA Impact legal challenge to State Question 779 a "delay tactic."
Oklahoma Watch / Twitter

Supporters of a ballot measure that would increase the sales tax in Oklahoma by one percent and generate about $615 million per year say a legal challenge against the proposal is simply a delay tactic.

The lobbying arm of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs filed the lawsuit Thursday, alleging the measure’s title and summary are inaccurate and misleading. But proponents of State Question 779 say the ballot measure is the only viable option on the table to raise teacher salaries.

Mike Mason taught science at Putnam City and Mustang high schools.
Oklahoma Watch

The idea of running for public office, much less being part of the Oklahoma Legislature, was never on Mike Mason’s mind during his 31-year career as a science teacher at Putnam City High School and Mustang High School.

That, however, changed after he agreed to meet with Oklahoma Education Association leaders earlier this year about whether he would consider running for office. Already upset at the state’s relatively low education funding, Mason received encouragement and decided to jump into the Senate District 47 contest in south Oklahoma City.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren signs a petition February 16, 2016 for a one cent sales tax proposal to fund education.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

A conservative advocacy group filed a legal challenge with the Oklahoma Supreme Court Thursday against a penny sales tax initiative that would be used to generate more money for Oklahoma’s public education system.

The legal filing by OCPA Impact contends the ballot title for the initiative and an explanatory statement, known as the gist, fail to describe important details, according to The Oklahoman’s Rick Green. It says the 1 percent tax would be in addition to other state sales and use taxes now in place:

Jason Stephenson teaches a class at Deer Creek High School in Edmond. Deer Creek’s allocation of money from motor vehicle collections doubled between fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Eight Oklahoma school districts are suing the state because of what they say is an unfair distribution model for Oklahoma's vehicle taxes.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The number of third graders meeting minimum reading benchmarks has continued to tick upward in the three years since Oklahoma tied reading scores to advancement to the fourth grade, preliminary results from the state Department of Education show.

That raises the question of whether the controversial high-stakes exam is working by forcing schools and parents to ensure more third graders read better. The goal of the approach, which is used in other states, is to push students from a “learn to read” to a “read to learn” level by fourth grade.

With Robert Neu's departure, Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora has stepped into the superintendent's job on an interim basis.
Ilea Shutler / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma City Public Schools acknowledged Tuesday that acting superintendent Aurora Lora has been working for nearly two years without the required certification.

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The elimination of end-of-course tests that Oklahoma public school students take each year will throw more uncertainty into the state’s efforts to develop a new system of measuring school performance.

The state’s much-criticized A through F report card system relies on students’ scores from standardized end-of-instruction exams, which were eliminated when the governor signed into law House Bill 3218 on Monday.

Mark Twain Elementary second grade teacher Elizabeth Clarke staples together work from two of her second-grade students in this 2013 photo.
Chase Cook / Oklahoma Watch

In South Dakota, one of two states with lower average teacher pay than Oklahoma, the Legislature in March approved a half-cent sales tax intended to boost salaries by thousands of dollars.

The other state, Mississippi, also is phasing in a teacher pay increase.

By contrast, when Oklahoma legislators adjourned Friday, they left ambitions of higher salaries for teachers unfulfilled. That means the state could find itself dead last in teacher pay soon unless more funding is generated.

Students from Classen School of Advanced Studies, an Oklahoma City high school, wave as they are recognized in the gallery of the Oklahoma House in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. The students were at the state Capitol to protest budget cuts.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Parents, students, and educators are rallying at the state Capitol Wednesday because of dissatisfaction with Oklahoma’s $6.8 billion budget deal. They want to see more money go to education.

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