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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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The Amarillo Independent School District has taken up the question of whether to rename Robert E. Lee elementary, on the city’s north side.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the AISD Board of Trustees will meet with attorneys today to consider whether it might be time for a change.

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

Kansas continues to face a teacher shortage, with schools reporting 440 vacancies this school year.

Those empty jobs worry educators because they force schools into workarounds, such as larger class sizes or long-term substitutes. They can also reduce class offerings and lessen support for special-education students.

Janet Waugh represents Kansas City, Kansas on the State Board of Education. She calls the situation heart breaking.

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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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Many Texas Panhandle students will return to school this week.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, most school districts in the Panhandle have chosen to return from summer earlier this year, preceding by a week and a half the state-mandated start date of Aug. 28. Canyon ISD and four of the five Amarillo school districts will begin on Wednesday.

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Rural school enrollment is on the decline in Oklahoma—and funding to rural communities is going down with it.

As The Tulsa World reports, small towns like the ones in Western Oklahoma receive a set amount of state funding per pupil. That means, when fewer students enroll, the schools and communities suffer.

Douglas Perkins

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.

A new math class being piloted by dozens of high schools across Kansas seeks to save students stress, time and money when they reach college.

Currently, about one-third of students who continue to two- and four-year colleges in Kansas don’t score high enough on placement tests to enroll directly in college algebra, a class most need in order to graduate.

Instead, they work their way up through remedial classes, a process that can take multiple semesters.

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Texas ranks 41st among states when it comes to child educational achievement. That’s nothing new; Texas has hovered near the bottom in this category for years.

The Oklahoman

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.

Dustyn Rappe / Oklahoma Watch

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.”

Eben McCue / StateImpact Oklahoma

For decades, the oil and gas industry has been promoting the benefits of fossil fuels in America’s public-school classrooms.

As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, companies like BP and Shell have spent millions of dollars on K-12 curricula, speakers, and after-school programs, all designed to paint oil, gas, and coal in a rosy light.

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Colorado schools will soon get funding to voluntarily test for lead in their drinking water.

As The Denver Post reports, House Bill 1306 received bipartisan backing and plenty of support from school and health officials. Lead in drinking water can lead to long-term health problems in children.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the measure into law last week.

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The Amarillo Independent School District voted this week to give all Amarillo public school teachers a $1,500 raise, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees voted for the raises unanimously, 6-0. The plan gives raises to all AISD employees, not just teachers, and it comes with a price tag of over $5 million.

Shawn Sheehan / The Washington Post

Low teacher pay in Oklahoma has led to a high-profile defection. This week Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year announced he’s moving to Texas.

Shawn Sheehan currently teaches special education in Norman, and in addition to winning the award last year he was also a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

Sheehan says he loves teaching, and wouldn’t want to do anything else, but he just can’t do it in Oklahoma anymore. As a result, he and his wife have accepted positions in Texas, where teachers are paid at much higher rates.

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Lawmakers in Texas are fed up with educators having sex with students.

The number of teachers having inappropriate relationships with their students has been rising, and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt has even called the problem a “statewide plague.”

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Some High Plains states are proposing bills that would allow climate change denial to be taught in public schools, under the rubric of “academic freedom,” reports Vice.

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A Texas teacher and Army veteran is taking on what he calls state-endorsed shaming at public-school cafeteria counters.

As WFAA reports, Kelvin Holt says he became concerned when he saw a cafeteria worker admonish a child who didn’t have enough money to pay for her meal, then tossing the food out and giving the child a lesser substitute.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

This week the Texas House Public Education Committee heard testimony on a bill that would decrease the number of standardized tests faced by students in the Lone Star State.

At first blush, the idea seems like it might carry broad support among Texas educators. But, as The Texas Tribune reports, teacher opinions on the idea actually constitute a mixed bag.

Brad Gibson / Oklahoma Watch

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.

KFOR

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 Texas Senate has put the statewide pre-K program on the chopping block, reports KXAN.

The most recent Senate budget plan shows significant funding cuts for the pre-K grant proposal, which is backed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The grant plan was initiated two years ago, after lawmakers declared state prekindergarten funding to be in a state of emergency. The Governor’s grants would put well over $100 million toward high-quality Pre-K across Texas.

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The Texas House of Representatives has proposed a bill that would encourage schools to offer mental health services.

Bob Daemmerich / The Texas Tribune

Yesterday the Texas Senate Education Committee passed legislation to open the door to what has become known as “School Choice.” As The Texas Tribune reports, the new bill would pay tax dollars to  parents, to be used for private school tuition and homeschooling expenses.

The bill passed by a vote of 7-3, with the Republicans on the committee voting in favor. The measure will now head to the full Senate, where it’s also expected to pass. The legislation has long been a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Trace Thomas / Texas Tribune

Some rural homeschool parents have suddenly found themselves making unlikely alliances with public school unions in Texas, reports The Texas Tribune.

Many homeschool advocates have traditionally been staunch conservatives. But now some are lining up against former allies like Senator Ted Cruz, to battle a “private school choice” bill that could pass this Texas legislative session.

NewsOK.com

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.

KFDA

A celebrated Amarillo teacher has invited President Trump’s new Education Secretary to visit the Texas Panhandle, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Shanna Peeples made news across the country two years ago when she was named the National Teacher of the Year. She was personally given the award by Barack Obama, and had a private lunch with the former president in Washington.

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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.

KXAN

Educators in Texas are crying foul over a new legislative bill that they say unfairly harms teachers.

As KXAN reports, the bill would make it illegal for unions to automatically withdraw dues from teacher payrolls. The legislation is being proposed by Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston.

This week a large number of educators showed up at a meeting of the the Senate Committee on State Affairs. The teachers gave testimony against the legislation  for over three hours.

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