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Morning Bell: 'It's a clear attack for teachers taking a stand'

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Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday August 20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday August 20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

Good Thursday morning! 

Five current and future Oklahoma charter schools will receive a portion of $3 million in federal funding this year, part of a larger grant program expected to significantly boost charter school enrollment across the state.

Last year, Oklahoma was named one of nine states to receive funding through the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

A total of $16.5 million will be funneled to charter schools over the next five years, which could help open or expand 25 charter schools. New charter schools in Norman and Seminole were included, which you can read about here

John Rex Charter School in downtown Oklahoma City was also included and plans to use the funds to help launch a sixth-grade class next school year. Approximately 80 seats will be available for sixth-grade students next year, which will be located in event space at the Myriad Gardens.

Union claims bill is revenge for teacher walkout

A new bill introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature this week is being criticized as "revenge" for the teacher walkout and political pressure put on lawmakers.

The state's teachers unions fear that if it becomes law, teachers could lose representation as membership wanes in the Oklahoma Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.

Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City AFT chapter, called it "union-busting" legislation.

The latest version of Senate Bill 1150 would prevent school districts from automatically deducting union dues from teacher paychecks. Instead, teachers would have to make arrangements with their union to make payments. You can read more about the proposed bill and union response here

Katherine Bishop, OEA vice president, called the legislation an attack on the association, teachers and support professionals.

"I'm beyond words. It's a clear attack for teachers taking a stand and schools shutting down their doors and their voices being heard at the Capitol," Bishop said. "Any association should feel threatened ... any time laws are passed to diminish your voice."

Unionized or not, teachers struggle to make ends meet

More than 9 in 10 teachers say they joined the profession for idealistic reasons — "I wanted to do good" — but most are struggling to some extent economically.

Those findings come from a nationally representative survey by NPR and Ipsos of more than 500 teachers across the country. The poll was conducted in April amid widespread walkouts in several states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and currently Arizona. You can read/listen to the NPR story here

The survey found that 59 percent of teachers have worked a second job and 46 percent have run up debt to make ends meet.

OKC district will see a shifting of principals

Five principals in the Oklahoma City district — including one celebrated this week as outstanding — will lead different schools in the coming year, The Oklahoman has learned.

Johnson Elementary Principal Margaret Saunders-Simpson will lead Wilson Elementary in the 2018-19 school year, the district reported. She will succeed Susan Marshall-Armstrong, who will become principal at Jackson Enterprise Elementary.

Tulsa high schools partners with manufacturer  

Spirit AeroSystems and Tulsa Public Schools are partnering on a new internship program for East Central High School students, reports the Tulsa World. The partnership between the east Tulsa high school and one of the city’s largest manufacturers is aimed at providing a path for students to enter the workforce out of high school and help remedy Spirit’s problem finding workers.

The Tulsa plant, which employs about 1,100 people, has about half of its workers eligible for retirement, according to the company’s human resources director.

'Outstanding educators' to be honored

Five Oklahoma educators will be honored along with 100 of the state's top public high school seniors when the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence hosts its 32nd Academic Awards Banquet at 6 p.m. May 19 at the Embassy Suites Conference Center.

The foundation will present its 2018 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence Awards to Brandi Caldwell, Lakeview Elementary School, Norman; Janet Johnson, Clyde Boyd Middle School, Sands Springs; Ronia Davison, principal of Sadler Arts Academy, Muskogee; Margaret Cotter-Lynch, professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant; and Tyler Ley, professor at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. Each will receive a $5,000 cash award.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Got a story idea, comment or question? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. Have a great day!

Related Photos
Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday  August  20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday August 20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8899c84d16070f1418b3297d77111a7f.jpg" alt="Photo - Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday August 20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman" title="Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday August 20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Students take a tour of the new John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday August 20, 2014. Photo By Steve Gooch, 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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