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Morning Bell: Lawmakers push for more guns in schools over school threats

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From left, UCO faculty Regina Lopez and April Haulman with Multicultural Education Institute award winners Breland Steward, Mary Mélon, Julie Davis and Jessica Morales. Silvya Kirk (far right), heads the awards committee for the institute. [Photo by Lauren Bieri/UCO]
From left, UCO faculty Regina Lopez and April Haulman with Multicultural Education Institute award winners Breland Steward, Mary Mélon, Julie Davis and Jessica Morales. Silvya Kirk (far right), heads the awards committee for the institute. [Photo by Lauren Bieri/UCO]

Good Thursday morning. Pictured above are award winners from the University of Central Oklahoma College of Education and Professional Studies 35th Multicultural Education Institute banquet held last week. More on that in a moment, including thoughts from a Del City student who was one of the award winner. 

But first, Oklahoma school districts are allowed to let teachers and staff carry guns (by a vote of the local school board). Okay Public Schools, near Tahlequah, appears to be the only district in the state that uses the law to arm its staff, according to KOSU

Okay Superintendent Pete Hiseley told KOSU's Emily Wendler that armed staff members receive extensive training. 

“They’ve trained with Homeland Security, they’ve trained with multiple agencies, multiple days, multiple hours, at our school,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the amount of time that they’ve put in to that program.”

A House committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would give public school boards the ability to let licensed handgun owners carry their weapons inside schools. The bills' author, Rep. Jeff Coody, said most schools are "woefully inadequate to respond" to a shooting threat with some schools so far away from populated areas that it can take police half an hour to respond.

Stitt gets an education

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt received an eye-opening education about the learning gaps in some rural districts during a visit to Altus. 

The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel was present for Stitt's visit with students who said the school had lost its speech and drama department, which was a tough blow.

Stitt, who was genuinely surprised by the science class cuts, responded with an improvised riff on evaluating local money for schools.

“We need to rethink how we fund stuff,” he said.

Student walkout

Sand Springs students are planning a walkout that the school administration said the district will not endorse, but officials have released a statement that includes protest guidelines, reports the Tulsa World

After the high school shooting in Florida and the $22 million in budget cuts to education in Oklahoma, several Sand Springs students expressed the necessity for a student walkout. Those students informed the administrators they intended on leaving class for 22 minutes at 9 a.m. today to protest.

Engineering Fair draws students from across the state

Following a one week delay due to weather, about 300 students attended the Oklahoma Engineering Foundation's Engineering Fair on Tuesday. 

“The Engineering Fair is fun and the Science Museum is a great venue,” said Daniel Hayes, one of the judges of the fair. “But it is promoting competition and all different aspects of engineering, which I think is really powerful. It allows kids to try new designs and meet kids that are interested in engineering from other schools.”

The 2018 Engineering Fair featured competition in categories such as tower building, oil extraction, bridge building, Ping-Pong ball launcher, rubber band powered vehicle and a Rube Goldberg-type contraption known as the wacky wonder works.

OKCPS is hiring

Oklahoma City Public Schools is looking for teachers, bus drivers, bilingual assistants and more, and representatives will interview candidates today during a career fair at Douglass Mid-High School. More info here

Breland Steward
Breland Steward

Breland Steward (pictured above) is a junior at Del City High School and was elected this year as president of the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils. 

He was also named the multicultural citizen of the year at last week's Multicultural Education Institute banquet at UCO. 

"More diversity can help bring in more people and impact more people, instead of the same people over and over again," said Steward, talking about the importance of adding diversity to the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils.

Steward said this past year he has learned to speak up and, "Don't be afraid to come out of your shell and talk about the things that matter."

Other award winners from the night include Mary Melon of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools (Friend of Diversity), Jessica Morales (Multicultural Paraprofessional of the year) and Julie Davis (Multicultural Teacher of the year).

Student arrested at OKC elementary school

An 11-year-old boy was arrested Monday after reportedly pulling a knife on students at Rancho Village Elementary School. The boy reportedly pulled a two-inch knife on five children at the Oklahoma City elementary school, telling them he would stab and kill them if they touched him, according to a police report.

That's all for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Thursday!

Related Photos
UCO photo by Lauren Bieri.

UCO photo by Lauren Bieri.

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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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