education

Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, says there's “virtually no chance” Oklahoma teachers will see a pay raise this legislative session.

On Monday, Governor Mary Fallin proposed a $3,000 raise for teachers when she unveiled her executive budget during her State of the State address.

Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address before Monday's joint session of the Oklahoma House and Senate.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin proposed bold changes to Oklahoma's budget, the criminal justice system, and said she wants lawmakers to get behind a $3,000 pay raise for teachers during her 2016 State of the State address.

The $900 million-and-counting budget shortfall lawmakers will have to deal with hangs over everything this session, but Fallin remained optimistic even as she cited a two-year, 70 percent drop in oil prices that's affected state revenue.

"We can do it," the governor repeated.

Karen Burston, of Oklahoma City, is tearful as she talks about what she believes is the discrimination she and her son have faced at Sequoyah Elementary School. Burston’s son is in a special education program.
Victor Henderson / Oklahoma Watch

A federal civil rights agency has opened its fourth investigation into Oklahoma City Public Schools, this time focused on claims that school officials discriminated against special education students.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said the newest investigation, filed on Dec. 3, examines whether the district applied different treatment, exclusion or denial of benefits to students with disabilities.

student in a classroom using a laptop computer
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The State Board of Education signed off on Oklahoma’s new English Language Arts and Math standards during Thursday’s meeting. They now await the approval of state lawmakers.

The Board was tasked with creating new math and English standards after the Oklahoma legislature repealed the Common Core curriculum in 2014.

The new standards were created by a group of Oklahoma educators from school districts across the state, and higher education. They were revised four times, before approval.

backpacks
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Four stories that were trending or generated discussion online or on KGOU’s social media platforms during the past week.

Teachers and education supporters rally at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City in March 2015, asking for better pay.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

State. Sen. David Holt is proposing $10,000 teacher pay raises over the next few years, and says it’s possible without raising taxes.

His plan is three-pronged. School districts would be consolidated and excess money would go to teacher pay. All revenue growth after fiscal year 2017 would go directly to raises, and the state would find another $200 million by reforming tax credits.

Holt said legislators have a moral obligation to raise pay, and help solve the teacher shortage.

Daryl Gandy teaches at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

Daryl Gandy walks through the halls of Ulysses S. Grant High School in south Oklahoma City.

“We have 1,800 kids in this school that was built for 1,250,” Gandy said. “We have about 30 teachers, myself included, that don’t have a classroom.”

As Gandy strolls through the school cafeteria, he points outside to a white, nondescript building with a long metal ramp.

“These are our portables,” Gandy said. “We call it the trailer park. We have about 10 classrooms out here. This helps some of our overcrowding situation but it definitely didn’t fix it.”

Jason McMullen teaching a math class at Har-ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Jason McMullen taught in Oklahoma for 12 years before he finally decided to move to Arkansas. When he left, his salary was $41,000. His wife was a teacher too, and earned less.  

"It just got to a point where it’s hard to buy a house," McMullen said. "It’s hard to pay bills, it’s hard to raise kids."

After all their bills were paid each month, McMullen says he and his wife had about $250 left for groceries and other living expenses.

"I just could not financially afford to stay any longer," McMullen said.

Truman Elementary School library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled that a proposal for a one-cent sales tax to fund education may go on the ballot for a statewide vote. The court’s decision on Tuesday struck down a challenge by OCPA Impact, who argued the initiative embraced more than one subject and therefore violated the state constitution.

The proposal contains seven sections. They include:

  1. The creation of the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund.

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Another $19 million could be cut from Oklahoma’s public schools as early as next month, potentially raising the total mid-year revenue reduction to $66 million.

The additional cut would fall on top of $47 million in cuts enacted last week by the state Board of Education, acting on advice from state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

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