Morning Bell: Some teachers return to Capitol
Good Tuesday morning. Hundreds of teachers showed up Monday at the Capitol to let lawmakers know that even though classes are largely back in session across Oklahoma, educators aren’t finished, reports Janelle Stecklein.
Teachers promised to continue sending small delegations to press lawmakers for adequate funding of the state’s K-12 schools.
“We’re just hoping that by all of us showing up that they know we’re not giving up,” said Jana Young, a special education teacher’s assistant from Enid Public Schools.
OKC back in session
Oklahoma City schools were back in session on Monday. Roosevelt Middle School art teacher Katie Guthrie welcomed back students with a slide show about the walkout.
"I wanted them to see what we were doing out there, the scale of what was happening out there, get them familiar with the situation as a whole," she said.
Potential ballot measures
Voters will head to the polls this November to chose Oklahoma’s next governor and elect a large swath of the Legislature. But it’s a pair of proposed state questions, which may or may not ultimately appear on the ballot, that could decide if teachers lose recently approved raises or possibly receive further pay increases, reports Oklahoma Watch.
Perhaps the more controversial of the two is an effort to repeal the nearly $425 million tax package the Legislature passed to give teachers an average raise of $6,000.
Capital gains the focus for many
What started life as a vague sentence buried in a complex ballot question has grown into a huge tax break for some Oklahomans and a target for teachers seeking more money for education. Worth $465 million in a recent five-year period, with most of the money going to people who made more than $200,000, the capital gains tax deduction has staunch defenders in some industries, including agriculture. The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel and Randy Ellis recently took a look at this tax deduction and how it came to be.
Ed advocate passes away
Former state representative Penny Williams, best known as a champion for public education and equal rights for women, died Monday. She was 80.
Williams co-authored the education funding and reform legislation House Bill 1017 in 1990. In a recent column in the Tulsa World, Williams wrote, “We have stopped believing in our students and teachers. We lost faith in the power of Oklahoma education and did not pay our bills as promised.”
OKCPS acting supt threatens resignation
The acting superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools threatened to quit last week, accusing the school board of meddling in her efforts to cut teaching positions and combine grade levels to save money.
Rebecca Kaye became visibly frustrated during a presentation requested by the board to justify staff reductions implemented for the coming school year to address elementary enrollment declines.
The changes mean cuts to 65 teaching positions and the addition of nearly 40 classrooms with combined grade levels at schools with small enrollments, a savings of about $2.5 million.
"I have to say that if this board is going to micromanage the district in this way and violate its own policy that very clearly states that this is the superintendent's role, I do not intend to continue as your acting superintendent," she said in a raised voice.
The Oklahoman's Tim Willert has more.
Yukon schools will close on Election Day. Tulsa will consider the same...
OMRF names Fleming Scholars
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has selected 13 Oklahoma high school and college students as Sir Alexander Fleming Scholars for 2018.
The 63rd class of scholars will spend eight weeks working with OMRF scientists on specific research projects covering subjects such as autoimmune disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease. At the conclusion, the scholars will author scientific papers and deliver presentations to OMRF's research staff.
The 2018 Fleming Scholars are: Fares Alrefai, Tulsa, University of Tulsa; Matthew Anderson, Durant, Oklahoma Baptist University; Veronica Chamberlain, Fort Towson, Southeastern Oklahoma State University; Azhia Contreras, Edmond, Edmond North High School; Phillip Douglas, Edmond, Cornell University; Dawson Haworth, Fairview, and Nathan Herndon, Minco, both from Oklahoma State University.
Also: Benjamin Houston, El Reno, El Reno High School; Rachel Jordan, Oklahoma City, Texas Christian University; Cheryl Kalapura, Tulsa, Cornell University; McKayla Muse, Edmond, University of Central Oklahoma; Oloruntoun Ogunbase, Oklahoma City, Putnam City West High School; and Winston Scrambler, Oklahoma City, Heritage Hall High School.