empty classroom
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Two state officials are on different pages when it comes to chances that a dedicated education fund will fail this year.

Both agree, however, that additional education cuts are coming, partly because a separate fund likely will fail.

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

The 90-day window for supporters to gather more than 120,000 signatures in support of a sales tax increase for education officially opened Tuesday.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren is leading the drive to put the one cent sales tax on the ballot in November.

“Let the people decide what kind of state that we’re going to have for the future, what kind of state we’re going to have now,” Boren said during Tuesday’s press conference launching the petition.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma's House Common Education Committee narrowly approved a Republican-backed voucher program on Monday. The Education Savings Account program allows public money to be spent on students who attend private schools.

State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said during committee debate the bill creates school choice options that some families desperately need.

The halls of the state Capitol filled with residents Monday opposing the consolidation of rural schools.
Cynthia Santos / eCapitol

A highly-anticipated bill calling for low-performing elementary school districts to be annexed into more successful districts stalled in committee Monday.

Anne Fisher leads a remedial math study session at Tulsa Community College as students prepare for a final exam last December. TCC is among several universities and colleges in Oklahoma revamping remedial courses in math and English.
Nate Robson / Oklahoma Watch

The warning directed at nine Tulsa Community College students last fall, heading into finals week, couldn’t have been clearer: Be ready for fractions – lots of fractions.

Numerators, denominators, decimal conversions – these were among the math expressions that students in professor Anne Fischer’s class should have learned in high school but didn’t. If they don’t master them, they won’t be able to earn an associate’s degree or pursue their major at a four-year college.

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

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister went to Washington on Wednesday to testify before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.

Last year President Obama signed a replacement for the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which starts in the 2016/2017 school year.

Lawmakers wanted to know what teachers and administrators need from the U.S. Department of Education as the law goes into effect, and Hofmeister said local control is key.

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.

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.