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The Morning Bell: Texas vs Oklahoma ... in education

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Good Friday morning! Just a quick personal note to start today's Morning Bell - I'll be off next week, and so will the newsletter. We both return Monday Oct. 23. 

However, be sure to check out upcoming issues of The Oklahoman for some more of my education stories, including in Monday's paper when I look a closer look at new testing requirements in Oklahoma schools.

--TAX FOR TEACHERS?: State Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, said asking voters to approve a 0.5 percent hike to the state’s income tax rate is the only surefire way to generate enough revenue to pay for $5,000 raises for more than 40,000 public school teachers, reports the EnidNews.com. However, Sharp, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, said there probably won’t be enough legislative support to push the measure through, so it likely would end up on the ballot.

“I do not see any positive teacher pay increase unless we add 0.5 percent onto the state’s income tax,” he said. “We can’t just be providing a $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 raise. We’ve got to get it up there to at least $5,000 initially.”

--OKC TEST SCORES: Preliminary results obtained by The Oklahoman on Thursday show that nearly 83 percent of students in Oklahoma City Public Schools scored below proficient on new English and math tests taken last spring, reports Tim Willert

At 13 district schools, including nine elementary schools, every student in at least one grade who was tested failed to demonstrate proficiency in either English or math. The scores prompted a district official to remark, "there are schools that are not meeting the needs of students." By comparison, an average of 63 percent of Oklahoma students statewide scored below proficient in the 18 state-required tests issued last school year in grades third through eighth, and 10th grade.

"We are currently working to validate and analyze the data, as we gather some additional details from the state," said Beth Harrison, the district's communications chief.

--LESS TEST PREP: In a column for NonDoc, education writer John Thompson writes that Oklahoma City schools should respect the cognitive science which explains why its scores will probably drop further and why its progress will be slower than the state averages.He goes on to write we need to find a way to free teachers and principals to brush off end-of-year test results and trust their own professionalism and teach more deeply.

Thompson's column came a day after the state released average scores for students on the new statewide end of year tests, which showed a significant drop

--GOV CANDIDATES DISCUSS ED: At a Democratic Gubernatorial Town Hall Meeting Monday in Edmond, education was a topic of discussion. “We are now funding alternative types of schools and programs; vouchers, charter schools on the backs of public schools who are mandated by the constitution to provide an education to every child regardless of their circumstance,” said former Sen. Connie Johnson, reports the Edmond Sun

--TEXAS vs OKLAHOMA: Former Oklahoma teacher of the year Shawn Sheehan, who now teaches in Texas, wrote a blog post comparing his new job to his teaching experience in Oklahoma. "Lots of folks have reached out asking for comparisons between Oklahoma and Texas, so I decided what better time to respond than during Red River Rivalry week?" Sheehan wrote. Sheehan's post includes a side-by-side breakdown of his former and current job, highlighting the differences between teaching in Oklahoma and Texas.

Have a great weekend!

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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