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The Morning Bell: Fighting for her life and her students

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Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Kristy Cooper, a 13-year math and student council teacher, was diagnosed last summer with stage 4 cancer. A growing pain in her back led to the discovery of metastatic breast cancer and a prediction from doctors she would, at best, live only a couple more years.

Like many who have found themselves staring down a fatal diagnosis, Cooper cycled through stages of grief, fear and anger.

But Cooper has since adopted a "fighting back" mentality as she's eager to see her 8-year-old son grow up. She's also unwilling to give up on a career she has built as a dedicated teacher and a fierce advocate for her students.

“She doesn't even know how much she has helped me through,” said Javon West, a junior at Del City High School and one of Cooper's students. “One of my grandmothers just passed with cancer and that was tough for me. But Mrs. Cooper's attitude and everything just builds me up.”

I recently wrote about Cooper and her class, which you can read here

Feds want more info on Oklahoma's plan

The U.S. Department of Education has requested additional details and clarifications before giving Oklahoma's new school plan final federal approval.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education asked for further information on more than a few dozen specific elements of Oklahoma's plan, including how the state plans to track student growth among various student sub groups, how struggling schools exit an improvement plan and the process for how English language proficiency is measured at the school level. 

You can read more here

Football and teacher pay

One Oklahoma teacher is ready for the Rose Bowl...

Most Tulsa students lack proficiency 

Tulsa Public Schools’ internal academic assessments show something similar to what statewide tests do — only about a quarter of the district’s kindergartners through 10th-graders are proficient in the subjects tested, reports the Tulsa World

The release of the results from the district’s internal exams come on the heels of Oklahoma State Testing Program results that showed TPS proficiency rates — those that meet the state standards and above — hovering between 20 and 30 percent in almost all grades and subjects tested. That was far below statewide averages and those of several, smaller suburban Tulsa-area districts.

--Sticking with Tulsa Public Schools, the district won’t eliminate any more jobs if the Legislature cuts state education funding again after years of declining state aid, the district said this week. Instead, it could use its reserve funds.

“Enough is enough — I do not believe that we can sustain further staffing losses and continue to provide adequate services and supports to our students, families, teachers, and school leaders,” Superintendent Deborah Gist said in a districtwide email that was provided to the Tulsa World.

State makes some alternative teacher changes

The Oklahoma State Board of Education has approved a change for alternative certification credentials from an annual renewal to up to three years. (Matt Trotter, KWGS)

"That is a request from the certification office that is in line with a lot of what we’ve seen from the red tape task force to reduce the burden both administratively for certification and on those individuals participating in the program," said State Department of Education attorney Lori Murphy.

Red states, blue cities leading in preschool?

In perhaps an unexpected twist, historically conservative strongholds like Oklahoma and West Virginia are leading efforts to bring preschool to all, reports the Associated Press

"They have in common a low-wage workforce, relatively low education levels and the desire to change that," said Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research. "Whatever they say, politicians in West Virginia know the future of their state is not coal miners."

Other red states that have notable programs include Alabama and Georgia. But some liberal-leaning cities like Seattle and New York also are running public pre-K programs.

That's all for today's Morning Bell. See you tomorrow.

Related Photos
Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-167a2c51a7a235a58315b6dabd73aced.jpg" alt="Photo - Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman" title="Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del City, Okla., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Kristy Cooper, a teacher at Del City High School, laughs as her former students who are now college freshmen speak to one of her leadership classes, in Del 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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