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The Morning Bell: Charter school for Native students in the works

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Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Good Wednesday morning! I hope you and yours are having a peaceful holiday season. After a week off, the Morning Bell is back.

When I write about Native American education in Oklahoma it is often in a rural setting. That makes sense as most of Oklahoma's nearly 130,000 Native American students attend school in small towns, often in communities where their tribe's history is woven into the town's patchwork.

But for the 20 percent of Native students who attend a school in the state's two largest metro areas, cultural connections can be harder to find, especially when it comes to a specific identity.

I recently wrote about the challenges and opportunities that exist in large urban school systems when it comes to Native American students. One of the biggest challenges is staying connected to their culture. 

I also wrote about a group looking to open a Native American charter school in Oklahoma City. 

"We have a critical mass of Native students in the city that we can serve with a very different take on curriculum and content," said Phil Gover, who is leading an effort to launch the Sovereign Community School.

Gover's group is awaiting a response from the Oklahoma City Public Schools after filing an application to open the proposed charter school in 2019. The application sets a goal to serve 500 mostly Native students within a few years of opening.

"Underlying our school is the notion that Native students will learn better because they are given access to a curriculum that shows Native people in classes outside of history," Gover said. "We are going to read awesome books in our literature class, but we are going to read books by Native people that talk about Native experiences."

You can read more here

Bixby to pay bonus to part with superintendent

Kyle Wood received bonus pay for meeting all of the Bixby school board’s annual objectives in the days before he was forced out as superintendent amid a public scandal, reports Andrea Eger of the Tulsa World

And he became eligible for state retirement the same day the school board revealed it was investigating an “incident” later revealed to be a student’s alleged rape with a pool cue by his high school football teammates at Wood’s own home.

Another run at teacher pay raises?

The fight for Oklahoma state employee and teacher pay raises could be revived in January with a continued special session.

Lawmakers are expected to reconvene after the New Year with the intention of tackling long-term budget fixes, which could include boosting revenue. However, Gov. Mary Fallin recently said she also wants the Legislature to work on other things.

"We'll find an agreed-upon date with an agreed-upon solution to hopefully fix the hole in the budget, put us on a stable path," Fallin said. "I hope we'll be able to give the teachers a pay raise. That's still my goal. And the state employees, too."

The Oklahoman's Dale Denwalt has more

Perry parents sue district officials

The parents of 15 girls who said they were molested by a teacher's aide are suing Perry school officials for damages, reports The Oklahoman's Tim Willert

A federal lawsuit filed Friday in Oklahoma City accuses Perry Public Schools and the Board of Education of showing "deliberate indifference" by failing to remove or report the aide after he was accused of sexual misconduct.

70% of Oklahoma suspensions are male

Nearly 24,625 Oklahoma sixth- through 12th-graders were suspended for any amount of time during the 2016-17 school year, reports KWGS/Public Radio Tulsa

Nearly 70 percent of those students are male, and males make up a higher proportion of suspended students at all levels in sixth through 12th grades. The number of students getting out-of-school suspensions peaked in seventh grade overall and for boys, and in ninth grade for girls.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Got a question, comment or story idea? Hit me up at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

Have a great Wednesday!

Related Photos
Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-57513f3b7867316f85c2d59094b66bed.jpg" alt="Photo - Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman" title="Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Sheril Thompson, Indian education coordinator for Mid-Del Schools, in her office in Midwest City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, 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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