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Morning Bell: Trying to diversify the teaching profession

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Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior May 9, 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior May 9, 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Good Monday morning. In a state where more than half of all public school students are nonwhite, nearly 86 percent of Oklahoma teachers are white, a rate higher than the national average.

"It can be hard for (nonwhite) students to see themselves becoming a teacher, but we want to change how they see themselves and how they view the teaching profession," said Elon Dancy, associate dean for academic inclusion and community engagement at the University of Oklahoma's Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

Dancy is a co-director of the Find Your Future Summer Education Camp the university hosts to get more nonwhite high school students to consider the teaching profession. 

Last Saturday I wrote about the camp and the effort to diversify the state's teaching force. 

Budget planning challenges

School districts across the state are budgeting to pay teacher and support staff their recent pay raises next year, but many are unsure if that money will actually be doled out is another matter.

Four Tulsa-area districts — Jenks, Broken Arrow, Union and Tulsa public schools — are budgeting for increased state aid to pay for the salaries, but won’t pay the increased salaries unless they receive that money, reports the Tulsa World.

“You can’t move forward with raises like that unless you have the money to do so. It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in this place,” said Union Superintendent Kirt Hartzler.

Hartzler expressed frustration with the referendum petition effort underway to challenge the tax increases, which has raised questions about how much of the funding for the pay raises will be available.

House Bill 1010xx, which helps fund the teacher and support personnel pay raise, is being challenged by referendum petition, muddying school district’s fiscal waters. Hearings on legal challenges to the petition, which would appear on the ballot as State Question 799, are set for June 11.

“The funding is still held up in litigation at this point. We don’t quite know exactly how it’s going to work out,” said Hartzler. 

Edmond principal retires

Edmond Santa Fe High School Assistant Principal Suzie Shumate is retiring after 40 years with the Edmond school district.

Shumate was the first AP calculus teacher in the district, one of the first employees to receive a computer and one of the first curriculum assistant principals. She has more years of service with the district than any other person retiring this year.

Staying active during summer break

Organizers of a new event called Lets Live and Play are encouraging kids in Oklahoma City to get out and keep their bodies and minds active while school is out this summer, reports News 9.

“We are actually teaching kids how to play outside again and families how to be more active,” said Let’s Live and Play coordinator, Jennifer Bradley.

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Monday!

Related Photos
Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior  May 9, 2018.  MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior May 9, 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-69b388a8ff8cfde6884739029d32bfb8.jpg" alt="Photo - Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior May 9, 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World" title="Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior May 9, 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World"><figcaption>Alexa Brown is an Owasso High School senior May 9, 2018. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World</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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