KGOU

education

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

Lawmakers are considering a measure that would significantly reduce school testing. The House passed a bill Monday that eliminates all tests that are not federally mandated. That includes five tests in the lower grades, and the seven end-of-instruction exams high schoolers take to graduate.

Students from the Classen School of Advanced Studies march from their school to the Capitol on May 18, 2016 in protest of state budget cuts.
Rachel Hubbard / The Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

For the second time this week Oklahoma City Public Schools students protested budget cuts to their education, but this time they marched all the way to the state Capitol.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

A controversial method for evaluating teachers in the state may soon be eliminated.

Lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday making the practice of measuring a teacher's performance through student test scores and how they've improved over time optional, rather than mandatory.

The House gave final approval to that bill on an 80-to-zero vote. The author, state Rep. Michael Rogers, R-Broken Arrow, says the legislation pushes the evaluation process back to the district level where it should be.

Interim Superintendent Aurora Lora talks with reporters Tuesday about the latest cuts to Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma City Public Schools announced another $10 million in budget cuts on Tuesday. 

Interim superintendent Aurora Lora presented a long list of things that will be eliminated or changed in order to achieve these cost reductions:

Women represent less than a fifth of superintendents in Oklahoma. Stacey Butterfield, superintendent of Jenks Public Schools, followed her mother and grandmother into a career in education.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

The teachers in K-12 classrooms in Oklahoma and other states historically were mostly women. Their bosses — the principals and superintendents — were mostly men.

In two of those jobs, not much has changed.

Nearly eight in 10 certified public-school teachers in Oklahoma are female, a ratio unchanged in the past decade, according to state Department of Education data acquired by Oklahoma Watch.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister testifies February 10 before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.
Edworkforce Committee / Flickr (Public Domain)

State officials are telling schools to brace for one more round of cuts before summer.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister told districts $13 to 17 million will be cut from school funding in the next month.

"This is really going to be gut-wrenching for districts to receive this news at this time at such a truly large amount of money,” Hofmeister said.

That will affect schools' abilities to pay their bills, and may force them to dip into any savings they may have. Hofmeister blamed the cuts on lower-than-expected gross production tax revenue.

University of Oklahoma president and former governor and U.S. Senator David Boren during a press conference Thursday as his group delivers 300,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office.
YesFor779 / Twitter

Oklahoma voters will decide whether or not raise sales taxes by a penny to fund education this fall.

State Question 779 will raise about $615 million for $5,000 teacher pay raises, among other education initiatives. University of Oklahoma president David Boren has been leading the charge for the penny sales tax. The grassroots effort Oklahoma’s Children – Our Future had 90 days to get 124,000 petition signatures to get the question on the November ballot. They delivered 300,000 to Secretary of State Chris Benge’s office Thursday – more than a month before the deadline.

The Oklahoma City Public Schools administration building.
Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma City Public Schools has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education to address the disproportionate discipline of black students in the district.

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan accepts the award during a ceremony at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in August 2015.
Oklahoma State Department of Education / Facebook

The three-day filing period opened Wednesday morning for candidates running for state and federal office. More than two dozen educators are considering politics as the state continues to deal with deep cuts to public schools. An unofficial head count shows about 30 teachers running for office.

Don Wentroth said he simply wants a better learning environment for students.

Ada City Schools Superintendent Pat Harrison says his district will save about $30,000 by cutting six days from the remainder of the school year.
Richard R. Barron / The Ada News

Oklahoma requires one of the shortest school years in the nation, in terms of instructional days.

But that hasn’t stopped a growing number of districts from ending their school year early this year or moving to four-day weeks to deal with cutbacks in state funding.

Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Rob Neu addresses reporters during an April 21, 2015 news conference about the district's discipline practices toward minority students.
Oklahoma Watch / YouTube

Oklahoma City Public Schools said Friday 92 administrative positions will be eliminated in order to save about $5 million in the 2016/2017 school year. That's about an 18 percent reduction in the overall administrative workforce.

59 of those jobs will be at the Central Office, and 33 will be at campuses throughout the district. That comes on top of the 208 teacher position cuts announced last month.

Students in Stephanie Gragg’s English class prepare for a test at Midwest City High School.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

State lawmakers could be close to eliminating end-of-instruction tests in favor of a single exam that’s recognized across the country.

House Bill 1622 gets rid of nine exams that all students take, but aren’t required by federal law. The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports the bill also lets the State Department of Education decide which tests high schoolers take to graduate:

The Oklahoma City Public Schools administration building.
Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma City Public Schools district proposes addressing racial disparities in discipline through an “intense process” of reforms, an attorney for the district told the school board Monday evening.

The proposal is intended to resolve a 2014 complaint being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights that the school district disciplined minority students more frequently and more harshly.

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The top Republican in the Oklahoma House pledged education cuts in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget won’t exceed 5 percent.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, said his GOP colleagues want to send a message to local schools.

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise discuss two sides of international education. China has charged an education advocate in Tibet with inciting separatism, and a one-room basement library in Afghanistan is providing books to citizens once ruled by the Taliban.

Then contributor Joshua Landis talks with Jeffrey Mankoff from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He argues the U.S. tried to outsource solving the Ukraine crisis onto German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They’ll also discuss Russia’s involvement in Syria.

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