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The Morning Bell: Happy new year! (Or mid year for schools)

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Happy new year! 

Before we completely shift into 2018, how about one more look back at 2017? For Oklahoma's public school system, last year might have been the year of the new normal.

It was a year when the more things changed in Oklahoma education, the more they seemed to stay the same.

“When I look at our funding challenges, I think we are just in the new normal,” said Rebecca Budd, an Oklahoma City Public Schools board member who was elected in 2017.

Beyond funding and teacher hiring challenges, last year was also one of change as the state adopted a new plan and process for evaluating schools. You can read more about the year that was in Oklahoma education here

Your thoughts on looking ahead...

What education issues and stories are important to you? I spent 2017 looking at a variety of #oklaed issues, including continued coverage of funding challenges and teacher hiring shortages. I also tried to pay more attention to rural education issues, something that will continue in 2018. But if you have suggestions and ideas, I'd love to hear them. (bfelder@oklahoman.com)  

The loss of world language classes

A fourth of high schools across the state have eliminated world language classes over a decade, erasing the chances for thousands of students to acquire skills that could better prepare them for college and the job market, reports Jennifer Palmer of Oklahoma Watch

The number of high schools without a single world language class has nearly quadrupled, from 39 in 2006 to 149 in 2016, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of data collected by the state Office of Educational Quality and Accountability. That means a third of Oklahoma high schools now don’t offer a single course.

Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Spelling Bee prep underway

Students across Oklahoma are prepping for spelling bee competitions to determine who could represent the state at the 2018 national bee in Washington, D.C., scheduled for May or June.

The Oklahoman Media Company coordinates spelling bees for 50 counties in the state, from the school bees to regionals to the Central Oklahoma Spelling Bee. LOOK AHEAD: The Oklahoman will also live stream the state competition in March.

Each school registered with Scripps sends a champion and a runner-up to regional spelling bees, with the winner and runner-up from those competitions moving on to the Central Oklahoma Bee. Read more here

George and OU helped change TV sports landscape

Today's the Rose Bowl between the University of Oklahoma and Georgia, so let's take a little trip into the world of higher education in honor of the big game. While this is the first time the two schools have met on the football field, Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes the two schools changed the face of NCAA football the last time they teamed up, winning a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case.

"The 7-2 court ruling allowed schools and conferences to forge their own television deals instead of relying on the NCAA to do so," Bluestein writes. "That paved the way for today’s wave of eye-popping TV deals, growing sports conferences and dozens more games on TV every week."

You can read more here

Financial literacy grades

Oklahoma's public school system received a C grade from the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College on how well personal finance education is taught and offered in high schools, reports Forbes

Former Coleman teacher charged with rape

Former Coleman School teacher Cori Harris has been charged with second-degree rape, reports KXII-TV

Here's a statement from Coleman Superintendent Dr. John Sheridan (via the television station): 

"Coleman Public School is always concerned with the safety of all our students. The school has cooperated with law enforcement regarding this matter. Coleman School has also properly reported this matter to the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The employee in question has not been employed by the Coleman Public School in any capacity this school year. Beyond those facts the matter in question is a criminal matter and the Coleman Public School cannot comment further."

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Monday (and 2018)!

Related Photos
Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9b830fa4c8bb7447a58056273ac064d1.jpg" alt="Photo - Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman" title="Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Kylen Gregg waits his turn at the microphone while Lyzi Cheatham spells a word as kids prep for a spelling bee at South Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 in Moore, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, 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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