education

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The tiny Central Texas town of Sidney neglected to hold school board elections for a decade. Instead, board members kept extending their own terms, reports The Dallas Morning News. Most taxpayers in Comanche County didn't even notice the lack of elections. Then came an anonymous complaint to the State Auditor's office “about a school district that forgot democracy.”

Free State High School in Lawrence, Kan., a public school. Kansas has for years been the stage for a messy school funding fight that has shaken the Legislature and reached the State Supreme Court.Credit Mike Yoder / AP photoEdit | Remove

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A Kansas school has found a new approach to education that teachers say is resulting in more concentration among the kids, reports The Wichita Eagle. In fact, student behavior has improved and the overall atmosphere at the school has changed. What’s the secret? A program called Morning Mindfulness. It’s a half-hour of play therapy, yoga, coloring, crafts and other activities designed to calm children and help them focus before study begins.

Aaron Jacobs / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s a brave new world, and the old public school curriculum of Reading, Writing, and ’rithmetic is being added to and evolved in fascinating ways every year.

Wichita Eagle

There’s a new statewide push in Kansas to help students explore potential career paths earlier, reports The Wichita Eagle.

A newly developed program includes internships, job shadowing and other real-world experiences as part of students’ coursework. These extracurricular activities emphasize individual plans of study that can help prepare students for the real world. The program is part of a nationwide trend by schools to look for ways to get students first-hand looks inside potential careers.

Chris Neal / AP photo

A new Kansas bill has teachers up in arms, reports The Wichita Eagle. Educators say the potential law is an attack on public schools.

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Educators in Amarillo agree that recess is important for childhood development. What they don’t see eye to eye on is how much time should be devoted to unstructured play at school, reports Amarillo.com. That disagreement means that recess frequency and duration varies at schools across the city. Play times range from 15 minutes in Amarillo Independent School District to 30 minutes for every grade level at Highland Park Elementary School.

Tulsa World

A rural school district in Oklahoma has posted some signs on its campus that are drawing attention, according to The Rural Blog. The fours signs read: “Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.” 

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When it comes to supporting public schools, all 50 states are doing a bad job, according to a new study. A report card was issued this week by the Network for Public Education, says The Washington Post. Some states fared better than others, though no state scored above a C grade.

Chris Neal / AP photo

Two years later, Kansas lawmakers are still debating a controversial sex ed poster, reports The Kansas City Star. The poster was titled “How do people express their sexual feelings?” and included such terms as “oral sex,” “anal sex” and “vaginal intercourse.” The poster was informational and contained no images. Yet Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would make it easier to prosecute teachers for materials considered harmful to minors.

Wikimedia Commons

Another year brings another attempt to get evolution out of the classroom in Oklahoma, reports Slate’s education blog. State Sen. Josh Brecheen has been working tirelessly to promote creationism. Every year since his election in 2010, Brecheen has authored legislation aimed at skirting nearly three decades of court decisions that prohibit teaching creationism in public schools.

USDA

Rural High Plains students have a higher chance of graduating these days, reports The Rural Blog. That’s according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2015 Rural America at a Glance report. The number of rural adults with a four-year college degree has increased by 4 percent since 2000. And the number of rural residents without a high school diploma or GED has decreased by nine percent in the same period.

Wikimedia / Creative Commons

On Christmas Eve the Colorado Department of Education announced that the state would switch its mandatory standardized high school test from the ACT to the SAT, reports Channel 9 News Denver. The ACT had been given to Colorado students since 2001. Some parents and educators weren’t pleased with the timing of the announcement.

Spanking Still a Common Practice in Many US States

Dec 29, 2015
Kathy WIllens / AP photo

A new report by The Atlantic details the still-widespread use of corporal punishment in public schools across the country. Education groups, activists, and parents—including those victimized by the practice—are demanding that corporal punishment be outlawed in schools. The groups insist outlawing the practice will protect children’s physical and emotional health.

Merriam-Webster Reveals This Year's Most Looked-Up Word

Dec 24, 2015
Simon Robertson / Flickr Creative Commons

Every year Merriam-Webster releases their most-looked-up word for the year. This year’s winner? “Socialism.” The dictionary associates the word’s popularity with the rise of dark horse Democratic political candidate Bernie Sander, a self-described “democratic socialist.” The word sparked “intense” curiosity this year, reports The Guardian, with an increase in look-ups of almost 170% compared to last year.

Leslie Corbly / KGOU

Oklahoma’s home schooling laws are some of the loosest in the nation, reports member station KGOU. And as a result, some former home schoolers are having trouble acclimating to society as adults.

Martin do Nascimento / Texas Tribune

The Texas State Board of Education has rejected the option of creating an expert panel to identify errors in textbooks. Several weeks ago a Houston mother sparked a nationwide uproar over a caption in her son’s textbook that described African slaves as “workers.” The new proposal would have created oversight to prevent inaccurate information from being printed in textbooks. But that the 15-member panel narrowly voted down the measure, reports The Texas Tribune.

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Last week in Topeka, lawmakers launched a special committee to come up with a new school finance formula and to study student educational outcomes, according to The Wichita Eagle. The committee hopes to improve efficiency in Kansas public schools. The 15-person committee, made up of Kansas House and Senate members, is known as The Special Committee on K-12 Student Success. The group began by reviewing classroom expenses and teacher pay and benefits.

Topeka Capital-Journal

Sam Brownback is concerned about the efficacy of various pre-kindergarten programs in the state, and the Kansas governor has set up a task force to investigate ways to more effectively prepare children for kindergarten. Dozens of public and private organizations operate early-education programs in Kansas, reports the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Ross Ramsey / Texas Tribune

Earlier this month, a Houston-area mother took to social media to complain about a caption in her child’s Social Studies textbook that described African slaves as immigrant “workers,” reports The Texas Tribune.

comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma has been paying tens of thousands of dollars to administer a writing test for three straight years—with no results. According to KGOU's Oklahoma Watch, concerns have been raised about the writing test’s validity, and changing standards mean new tests must continually be created.

Many Kansas Students Fall Short in Test Results

Sep 11, 2015
Mike Hutmacher / Wichita Eagle

Kansas residents had a look at state public school test assessment results this week, and the news isn’t good. As The Wichita Eagle reports, a majority of Kansas students are not ready for college-level work. The results were the first collected from new Common Core-aligned state tests administered last spring. In English, only 42 percent of Kansas students met grade level expectations for college readiness. In math, the level of prepared students fell to 34 percent.

Justin Dehn / Texas Tribune

a new Texas law may lead more schools to set up nurse's offices equipped to handle remote doctor visits. The program could save parents time and money. According to The Texas Tribune, the remote visits could begin at school nurses’ offices as soon as September 1st. Doctors will be able to communicate with children via a sophisticated form of video chat.

Motown31 / Creative Commons

Underperforming Texas schools could face harsh penalties, according to a new law that takes effect September 1st. The Texas Tribune reports that if school districts don’t perform up to standards, the state will be authorized to strip them of their authority, or even close the school.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute

A nonpartisan, nonprofit group of more than 500 retired generals and admirals see school nutrition as an important factor in military readiness.

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Oklahoma may be one of the first states to repeal Common Core and draft completely new standards, Public Radio Tulsa reports.  Meanwhile, after repealing the Common Core goals, the state has instituted new academic standards in math and English, that in some ways go beyond Common core requirements. For example, elementary school students will be expected to write research papers, and high school students will need to know the “why”s behind mathematical formulas.

OKCPS Emerson

The online magazine Slate this week provided readers with a fascinating view into America’s educational past. Workers renovating a high school in Oklahoma City came across a number of blackboard lessons that had been frozen in time. The blackboards, which had been covered by new chalkboards in 1917, still retained lessons and drawings on math, reading, music, handwriting, personal hygiene, pilgrims, and God.

cbsnews.com

The National Teacher of the Year is an educator from Palo Duro High in Amarillo.  Shanna Peeples is the first Texas teacher to win the award since 1957. 

Peeples works in an environment where 85 percent of students live below the poverty line and where more refugee children are enrolled than in any high school in the district reports the Amarillo Globe News.

Oklahoma schools have the same budget as 2008, but 40,000 new students. That has schools dipping into their savings and running out of space.

Education Bill Draws Praise & Criticism

Apr 21, 2015
Mollie Bryant

It's a double edged sword for education in Texas, Senate passed a bill that legislators say should improve educator training but critics argue that it could reduce teacher’s ability to earn to higher wages.

Senate bill 893, authored by state Senator Kel Seliger of Amarillo would allow Texas Education Agency to create an annual evaluation system that includes students’ academic performance data to measure a teacher’s effectiveness.

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