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The Morning Bell: Teacher pay raise vote today

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Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman
Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

Good Wednesday Morning! Today's a big day at the state Capitol as a $132 million funding bill is headed for a final vote in the Oklahoma Legislature, which, if approved, would all but end the state budget crisis and fund a $3,000 teacher pay raise. 

Gov. Mary Fallin, along with several education advocacy groups, spent much of yesterday encouraging lawmakers to vote for the bill, which includes tax hikes on tobacco, motor fuel, low-point beer and the production of oil and gas.

The Oklahoman's Dale Denwalt has a rundown of today's vote and why it's not a sure thing to pass. 

Today is also one-year since the defeat of State Question 779, a statewide sales tax increase that would have funded a $5,000 teacher pay raise

"I never believed that we would be here in a year," said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, days before the Nov. 8 anniversary since the defeat of State Question 779.

--A former Oklahoma City school bus driver has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge for a scuffle with a student that led to his firing.

Henry Ballard, 60, of Oklahoma City, pleaded no contest Friday to assault and battery. Under a plea agreement, Ballard was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to pay a $100 fine. 

By phone Monday, Ballard said he was just trying to subdue the boy.

"If I wanted to hurt him, don't you think I would have been punching the hell out of him?" Ballard told The Oklahoman. "All I did was grab him and hold him down. I never hit him."

--TEACHER RETENTION: Oklahoma City Public Schools retained fewer teachers at schools with first- or second-year principals than sites with more experienced leadership, data provided by the district shows. Overall, the district retained 72 percent of certified staff, including classroom teachers, according to data collected between May 31 and Aug. 1.

--"Teachers are afraid to have students use pencils and scissors in activities for fear that they will be used as weapons." That's a powerful sentence from a recent story in the Tulsa World by Samuel Hardiman, who wrote about Tulsa teachers who say they are being attacked by kids as young as pre-K and kindergarten. 

Patti Ferguson-Palmer, president of TCTA, said that when it comes to what to do about the attacks, teachers and administrators are “frozen into inaction for fear of losing their jobs.”

--Tulsa students trade on 'stock exchange' through Junior Achievement program, reports the Tulsa World. The student groups were working toward the same goal: to have their portfolio outperform everyone else’s. The groups traded while reacting to literal fake news: fictitious Tulsa TV news broadcasts about presidential policy and market demand.


Related Photos
Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-56c6fda95d251eb3199bb1e95249b7f0.jpg" alt="Photo - Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman" title="Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Members of Oklahoma Education Association watch from the gallery in the House during the special session at the Capitol Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
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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