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Morning Bell: Funding went down, trauma went up

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Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Good Monday morning! Oklahoma schools have struggled through a decade of per-student funding decreases, resulting in larger class sizes and fewer classroom resources. But it has come at the same time the rate of students dealing with a slate of social challenges has increased, exacerbating the negative impact of budget cuts.

The combination of the two forces has created a public school system that has floundered with low academic achievement and graduates who lack basic skills needed to succeed in today's job environment, often ensuring the problems plaguing students are repeated for another generation.

"I think we have a lot more traumatized kids than we used to," said Shelly Unsicker-Durham, 56, who first started teaching in the late 1980s. "My ability to focus on getting students to become better writers and better readers is much harder. I can't do what I even did just two years ago."

On Sunday, I wrote about Oklahoma's school system as part of The Oklahoman's State of Oklahoma series, which explores the areas where we are falling short as a state. You can read the story here

Tulsa to hire new COO

Tulsa Public Schools plans to hire Jorge Robles as its new chief operating officer, after its previous one left the position this school year, reports the Tulsa World.

The COO oversees district facilities, operations, transportation, the Tulsa Public Schools Police Department and maintenance. If hired, Robles would make $150,000 a year, according to the Tulsa school board agenda.

OSSM grads announce college choices

The 68 seniors at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics gathered to announce their college choices at the school's first academic signing day last week

"We scream and shout when someone gets into Stanford or Cornell," said Cynthia Parish, OSSM college counselor, who organized the pep rally.

OSSM is Oklahoma's public residential high school for juniors and seniors with exceptional ability in science and mathematics. The class of 2018 comes from 27 cities and town across the state.

McLoud moves to four-day week

McLoud Public Schools will be going to four-day school weeks starting in the fall, reports the Shawnee News Star. Since announcing in January that McLoud would be going to shorter weeks, McLoud Superintendent Steven Stanley has noticed a positive change in the applicants for the teaching vacancies in the district.

“We felt like McLoud needed to offer something to make it a unique destination and since we made the decision, there has been a significant increase in the quantity and quality of our applicants,” he said.

What works in education?

In a column for Education Week, Ted Dintersmith, author of the recently released book "What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration From Teachers Across America," writes, "our test-driven education system seems to prioritize low-level skills, rather than creativity, curiosity, and audacity—all of which are critical. Absent profound changes in our schools, children's futures are in jeopardy."

In visits with teachers in all 50 states, Dintersmith said "transformational teachers are those who help their students develop four important areas of expertise," which are purpose, essentials, agency and knowledge. Read more here

Fort Gibson Superintendent Hired as School Leadership Association Executive

Fort Gibson superintendent Derald Glover has been named assistant executive director of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators (OASA). Glover, who recently announced his retirement after 18 years as Fort Gibson superintendent, served as OASA president in 2011-12, and on the board of directors for two consecutive terms in 2003 and 2005.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Got questions, comments or story ideas? Send me an email at bfelder@oklahoman.com.

Related Photos
Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, Okla.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2b0c8fba435cddb0b86b73b8591ce975.jpg" alt="Photo - Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman" title="Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Highland Park Elementary pre-k student Promise Birchmeir gathers her breakfast as part of the new Breakfast in the Classroom program on Friday, March 30, 2018 in Midwest City, 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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