Oklahoma education

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Over the past decade, language classes have been disappearing from Oklahoma public schools, reports Oklahoma Watch.

As of last year, a quarter of high schools across the state had eliminated world language classes altogether. The result: hundreds of graduating classes filled with students who’ve missed out on a key component that could better prepare them for college and higher earnings in the job market.

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Last year in Oklahoma, the number of school districts that had gone to four-day school weeks nearly doubled.

As KFOR reports, 20 percent of public schools in Oklahoma are now only open four days a week, due to a crippling budget crisis in the state. Some officials in the state have said they think four-day weeks are a good idea, because of all the money it frees up in the budget.

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Oklahoma’s school districts got an early Christmas present this week, as it was announced that districts statewide would receive a $2 million grant.

As KOKH reports, the donation is being provided by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board. The grant will go toward educating Oklahoma students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, better known as the STEM subjects.

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Oklahoma schools are still using a controversial punishment technique for special needs children, and the method has caused some parents to pull their kids out of school. Many of these same parents have been led to call the police or take legal action.

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Oklahoma has once again been ranked first in the nation when it comes to slashing funding for education.

As KOSU reports, over the past decade Oklahoma has cut school funding more per-pupil than any other state. According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, since 2008, the amount of funding available per pupil in Oklahoma has dropped by almost 30 percent.

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed an executive order declaring that all school districts that spend less than 60% of their budgets on instruction should be consolidated, reports The Oklahoman.

Put more simply, a school district must be spending six out of every ten dollars to pay teachers. If not, the district will be forced to combine with a nearby district, or share budgets, maintenance, equipment, and other employees like janitors and counselors.

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Oklahoma teacher Teresa Danks recently made national news when she began panhandling beside the highway to raise money for school supplies.

On average, American teachers spend $500 a year of their own money on school supplies for their students, but that number can be much higher in states like cash-strapped Oklahoma. American teachers are currently eligible for a small tax break of $250, to reimburse themselves.

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A charter school association in Oklahoma has brought a lawsuit against the state, in hopes of diverting more revenue away from traditional public schools and into charter school coffers.

As The Tulsa World reports, the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association's lawsuit hopes to do what similar suits in Colorado and Florida have achieved: sharing local tax money equally among district and charter schools.

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A new federal education law will give Oklahoma more freedom and responsibility when it comes to fixing its failing schools, reports StateImpact.

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The Oklahoma Education Department has released a new plan to address the ongoing woes of the state’s education system, reports Oklahoma Watch.

The goals of the plan include reducing the state’s recent reliance on emergency certified teachers and raising the state’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent. The plan will also try to ease hunger in schools, and force underfunded public schools that have gone to a four-day school week to fix their calendars.

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It’s no secret that Oklahoma is facing as major teacher crisis. But, as Oklahoma Watch reports, within that larger crisis is another problem. The state suffers from an increasingly dwindling pool of special education teachers.

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Oklahoma’s woes are now so dire that the state is making news in the United Kingdom. Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article about Oklahoma, asking the question “Can anyone fix this failing state?”

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Oklahoma has now set a record for the number of emergency-certified teachers its hired this year. The state has been experiencing a statewide shortage of teachers, largely due to low teacher salaries and the problem of educators moving to other states for better pay and benefits.

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Tensions over the condition of public education in Oklahoma continue to grow more strained.

As The Oklahoman reports, the Oklahoma City Public School System is considering suing the state Legislature. Leaders of the largest school district in the state say the Legislature has consistently failed in its constitutional and moral responsibilities to the children of Oklahoma.

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Over the past two months, the State of Oklahoma has approved almost 900 emergency teaching certificates.

As The Tulsa World reports, many classrooms in Oklahoma have yet to find teachers and droves of educators have moved to Texas and elsewhere, in search of better pay.

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Foster kids in Oklahoma will soon receive state funding to attend private school, if they choose to do so.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, in the past state funding for private schools has been given to disabled or special-needs students. But this is the first time that funding has expanded to include foster children.

The idea behind the change is to allow foster kids who have experienced trauma to tailor their education to their needs.

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One Oklahoma teacher has now turned to panhandling to pay for necessary items for her classroom.

Oklahoma teachers will be returning to work in a few weeks, and that means they’ll have to get their classrooms ready. But, in cash-strapped Oklahoma, this can be an even bigger challenge than in other states.

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The State of Oklahoma has drawn repeated criticism recently for leading the nation in funding cuts to K-12 public schools.

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The teacher crisis in Oklahoma doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, reports The Oklahoman.

Last year, Oklahoma was forced to certify 1,100 emergency teachers to plug unfilled jobs due to low pay and teachers moving out of state. This year, the state Board of Education has already approved 224 more emergency certificates. Emergency teachers are hired without the traditional training expected of a public-school teacher. These last-minute stop-gap educators are forced to learn on the job.

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Oklahoma will soon make its statewide reading test more difficult, and the change could result in more students being forced to repeat the third grade.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the important, high-stakes test is already difficult for some. Last year, 12 percent of Oklahoma third graders received a grade of “unsatisfactory.”

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For decades, Oklahoma public schools have been struggling to retain principals. Last year 73 percent of Oklahoma’s 1,900 principals had held their positions for five years or less.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the constant turnover of principals costs Oklahoma districts thousands of dollars a year.

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Dallas school districts have been actively recruiting Oklahoma teachers.

As KFOR reports, Dallas ISD is holding interviews in Oklahoma City this week to try to convince some of the state’s most qualified teachers to head to Texas, where pay and benefits are significantly better than in the Sooner State.

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The Oklahoma Legislature may soon give public school teachers a raise, reports The Oklahoman.

The proposed law lays out a three-year plan, under which Sooner teachers would receive an increase of $1,000 in the first year. When the three-year term is over, teachers in the state will have seen a total pay increase of $6,000 per year.

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A new bill being proposed in Oklahoma would forgive student loans for the state’s teachers, reports KFOR.

Rep. Mickey Dollens’s proposed legislation would give Oklahoma teachers student loan forgiveness if they stay at any school for at least seven years. Educators cheered the bill, saying it’s on the right track. But, they added that the new law doesn’t solve the crux of the education problem in Oklahoma, which is low teacher pay.

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An Oklahoma senator is making yet another attempt to get more money for teachers in the Sooner State. As the Palm Beach Post reports, Senator David Holt has proposed a bill that would give all Oklahoma teachers a $10,000 raise.

Last year, Holt proposed a similar bill that died in the legislature.

Then, last November, Oklahoma voters rejected a one-cent sales tax increase that would have given their teachers raises.

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Many employers in Oklahoma have begun to push back against state cuts to higher education.

Last year, higher education funding in Oklahoma was slashed by more than $150 million. The cuts amounted to 16 percent of the overall state budget for higher ed.

Now, as the Norman Transcript reports, some Oklahoma businesses are done sitting on the sidelines.

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Convenience store employees in Oklahoma evidently make more than many of the state’s teachers.

As News 9 reports, it can take a teacher 11 years to reach the starting salary for full-time employees of the popular Oklahoma convenience store chain QuikTrip. This is despite the fact that the teachers have degrees, while the QuikTrip employees often have only a high school diploma.

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Some superintendents in struggling Oklahoma school districts are getting hefty raises, even as the schools in their districts are scrambling to figure out how to pay their bills.

Oklahoma Watch

Last year, a caucus of teachers rose up in Oklahoma. Dozens of schoolteachers ran for public office in the Sooner State, out of frustration over low education funding levels and teacher pay.

In response, money poured into Oklahoma from out of state, funding the opposition to this so-called “Teacher Caucus.” Many of those teachers subsequently lost their races.

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Should Oklahoma students be required to take more math classes?

As The Lawton Constitution reports, high school students in the Sooner State are currently only required to take three years of math.

Oklahoma is one of 25 states that require students to take three years of math. Eighteen states require a full four years of math classes. The remaining states only require two years of math.

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