public schools

Kansas educators want lawmakers to act on health care, bullying and college credits when the Legislature convenes later this month.

For over a decade, the school funding battle has dominated any conversation about education in Topeka. But with a school funding plan in place, educators are no longer on the legal offensive. Instead, school lawyers have become watchdogs, making sure the Legislature keeps the education dollars flowing.

Parents and teachers in Oklahoma school districts with four-day weeks gathered at the state capitol Monday to ask lawmakers not to adopt rules they say would effectively end abbreviated school weeks.

Of Oklahoma’s more than 500 school districts, about 100 go to school only four days a week. The practice has exploded in recent years because of a change in how the state measures school years, saying students need to be in class for 1,080 hours rather than 180 days each year.

EFFINGHAM, Kansas — In 2014, a cash-strapped school district in rural northeast Kansas turned to its residents with a plea: Pay a little more in taxes annually so we can renovate classrooms, update the wiring and give students better spaces to learn.

A bill in the Kansas Legislature would let students escape bullying by transferring to a new school, either public or private.

But critics say the bill is little more than an attempt to send state dollars meant for public schools to private alternatives.

Last year’s teacher walkout brought a renewed focus on Oklahoma’s financial commitment to public schools.

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Many Oklahoma students are likely to struggle when they reach college, according to the latest ACT scores.

As The Oklahoman reports, 43 percent of students in the state were unable to meet a single benchmark in the areas of English, mathematics, reading and science. And only 16 percent were able to show college readiness in all four of those subjects.

One of the state constitutional amendments that Colorado voters will see in November aims to raise money for all the state’s public schools.

Backers of Amendment 73 say it could provide essential services, salaries and supports. Opponents say it’s too risky and may lead to unintended consequences.

Angie Schreiber sees it time and again: dyslexic students failing to learn to read through traditional teaching techniques.

But she says she knows how they can flourish.

Schreiber’s private teaching service in Emporia uses an approach known as structured literacy. The method drills students on myriad rules of English sound and spelling that most of us never learned consciously.

Oklahoma Teachers Send A Message To GOP Lawmakers

Aug 30, 2018
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Oklahoma has, in recent years, gained national attention as a center for earthquakes. But a different kind of seismic shift hit the Sooner State this week—one of the political variety.

As The Tulsa World reports, this spring when Oklahoma’s teachers went on strike, they were dismissed and mocked by many of the state’s Republican officials. This, despite the fact that Oklahoma’s per-student spending has decreased by almost 25% in the past 10 years.

Oklahoma Teachers’ Raise May Be In Jeopardy

Jun 19, 2018
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It appears that the historic raise promised to Oklahoma’s teachers may be in trouble.

As The Guardian reports, despite promises made by state lawmakers to give Oklahoma’s educators a $6,100 a year pay increase, conservative activists in the state are circulating a petition to rescind the tax hikes meant to pay for the raises.

From Texas Standard.

In efforts to avoid strict state sanctions, Houston ISD, San Antonio ISD and Waco ISD are all school districts that have recently either considered or adopted plans to consolidate several of their consistently failing public schools into charter school partnerships.

Texas Plans To Pour Money Into Special Education

Apr 25, 2018
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Texas plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into fixing the state’s beleaguered special-education system.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas Education Agency plans to spend nearly $212 million over the next five years to help students with special needs. The news comes in the wake of a 2016 study, which found that Texas had been systemically failing to adequately serve tens of thousands of special needs students statewide.

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Oklahoma schools are closed again today for an eighth straight school day, as teachers continue to protest low teacher pay and skimpy funding. CNN reported yesterday that the teacher movement is “gaining momentum.”

One group of teachers walked the 100 miles from Tulsa to the capitol in Oklahoma City, to draw attention to their plight.

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Public schools across the state of Oklahoma shut down yesterday, as teachers protested years of spending cuts and low wages.

As The Washington Post reports, thousands of Educators gathered at the Oklahoma State Capitol and waved flags and Banners, while chanting and carrying signs that read: “Don’t make me use my TEACHER voice,” and “STRAIGHT OUTTA SUPPLIES.”

Lance Cpl. Scott Whiting

Child Advocates are charging Texas public schools with punishing the state's youngest students too harshly.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, last year Texas passed a law saying that students in Pre-K through second grade could only be suspended if they brought a gun to school, or committed drug offenses or acts of violence.

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The arrival of spring break didn’t stop teachers in Oklahoma from pursuing their quest for higher pay.

As KFOR reports, this week many teachers traded in their vacations to instead visit the state capitol, in hopes of convincing Oklahoma lawmakers to raise their compensation and staving off a statewide walkout on April 2nd.

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A school district on the edge of Amarillo is now allowing certain teachers to carry concealed weapons, leaving some to wonder if the rest of Amarillo’s schools may be next.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the 900-student Highland Park ISD on Amarillo’s eastern edge has posted signs reading that the district, “has adopted policies that allow certain employees to carry concealed weapons on school property for the protection of our students and staff.”

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Oklahoma’s state employees announced this weekend that they will join the state’s teachers in a walkout early next month if lawmakers do not meet the teachers’ demands for increased pay and school funding.

As The Oklahoman reports, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association board of directors met on Saturday and approved a work stoppage plan if the state legislature doesn’t agree to $213 million in state employee pay raises by April 2.

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Speaking at a large conservative political gathering near the nation’s capital last week, Donald Trump reiterated that he would like to see more public-school teachers carrying concealed guns. And as POLITICO reports, the State of Texas may be a model for Trump’s vision of a nation full of gun-toting educators.

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The Oklahoma Legislature’s plan to fix the state budget failed spectacularly this week, sending lawmakers scrambling to defend themselves from widespread criticism.

The Step Up Oklahoma plan had seemed to many like it held promise.

The Texas Tribune

More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don't require teachers to be certified, according to state officials, due to a recent law giving schools more freedom on educational requirements. 

A 2015 law lets public schools access exemptions from requirements such as teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes — the same exemptions allowed for open enrollment charter schools. Using a District of Innovation plan, districts can create a comprehensive educational program and identify provisions under Texas law that would inhibit their goals.

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News of Oklahoma’s struggling public education system has now reached London, where the legendary news magazine The Economist published an analysis this week of the state’s pervasive and seemingly insurmountable school funding issues.

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The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education, addressing federal concerns about the state's failure to serve students with disabilities.

From The Texas Tribune:

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education Thursday.

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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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Kansas schools currently spend more per pupil than any state in the High Plains Public Radio listening area, according to Federal data.

And as The Tulsa World reports, Oklahoma continues to spend the least amount per student of any state in the region. Oklahoma only spends about $8,000 per year on its students.

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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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For the last 10 years, Texas elected officials have been gradually cutting funding to public schools. As a result, local school costs have been rising--and local property taxes have been rising with them.

The state Legislature has now shifted over $2 billion a year worth of funding that would have gone to public schools to other programs.

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According to a new study, the average graduation rate of Texas charter schools students is almost 30 percentage points lower than that of traditional public schools.

As Houston Public Media reports, the 2017 study from the Texas Education Agency showed that fewer than two out of every three Texas charter school students graduated on time.

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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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