Oklahoma

Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

One Idea To Help Fund Oklahoma Schools: Take From The Rich And Give To The Rest

Calumet Public Schools Superintendent Keith Weldon stands in a  garage, that he recently turned into space for an agriculture program. Weldon worries if lawmakers take some of his local funding, he would have to scale back the popular program.

Calumet Public Schools Superintendent Keith Weldon stands in an old garage that he now uses for an agriculture program. Weldon worries if lawmakers take some of his local funding, he would have to scale back the popular program.

The wind blows strong and steady in Calumet, a small town about 40 miles west of Oklahoma City.

It’s the wind that’s prompted companies to build turbines here. A natural gas company also built a plant nearby.

In northeastern Oklahoma, Google built a large data center in Pryor. And the city of Cushing is flanked by fields of large steel tanks that hold millions of barrels of oil.

These industries bring in abundant property tax revenue for nearby schools — enough that 37 districts don’t receive any funding from the state.

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In Tulsa, a National Blueprint for Managing Floods as Cities Grow and Climate Changes

Stormwater engineer Bill Robison snaps a photo of a flood-prone house the city is trying to buy from its homeowner.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Stormwater engineer Bill Robison snaps a photo of a flood-prone house the city is trying to buy from its homeowner.

In the aftermath of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, communities across the U.S. are rethinking ways to control flooding and reduce hazards that could be worsened by urbanization and climate change.

Writing such plans is a complex, politically challenging process, but one city in Oklahoma has emerged as a national model for creating a flood-control program that works.

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Landmark Earthquake Lawsuit Settled, Former State Scientist Testifies About Industry Pressure In Another

A disposal well in northwest Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A disposal well in northwest Oklahoma.

The first lawsuit filed against Oklahoma oil companies over earthquakes is now settled.

Sandra Ladra was injured by rocks that shook loose from her fireplace during the 5.7-magnitude temblor that struck near the city of Prague in 2011. The quake is one of the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma and was the first one scientists linked to wastewater disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry. Continue Reading

What Do Monkey Bars and Test Scores Have In Common? More Than You Might Think

Fourth graders at Chattanooga Elementary School play during recess.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Fourth graders at Chattanooga Elementary School play during recess.

On the playground at Chattanooga Elementary School some kids are pretending to be pirates, a few boys are climbing on a baseball dugout, and another group is belting out the words to various pop songs as they wriggle across the monkey bars.

This is the students’ third 15-minute recess of the day, and they’ll get one more before the end of the school day in the tiny southwestern Oklahoma town of about 450.

Added up: That’s an hour of recess a day — double what these kids got two years ago, and double what most kids in America get.

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A River of Uncertainty Lingers As State Approves OKC’s Permit For Southeastern Oklahoma Water

Jerry Gutierrez steers his golf cart on a tour of his ranch near the Kiamichi River in southeastern Oklahoma. Gutierrez and other nearby residents urged the state not to approve Oklahoma City's permit to tap water from river.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jerry Gutierrez steers his golf cart on a tour of his ranch near the Kiamichi River in southeastern Oklahoma. Gutierrez and other nearby residents urged the state not to approve Oklahoma City's permit to tap water from river.

Oklahoma City’s decades-long quest for a permit to pump water out of southeastern Oklahoma is over. This week, state regulators approved a key part of the city’s $1 billion-plus project to meet the metro’s long-term water needs, but residents and water rights groups say the urban victory marks a milestone — not the end of the road.

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Education Leaders Say Drop in State Test Scores Due to Tougher Grading System, Not Poor Performance

Soon-to-be-released statewide test scores are expected to be much lower than they were in the past, but top education officials say the drop is due to a more difficult grading system, not poor-performing students.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says the state has a new way of measuring student proficiency.

“This has been a time of recalibrating,” she said in an interview after a press conference held with reporters to explain the declining scores.

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How Controversy And Current Events Become Critical Curriculum In Some Oklahoma Classrooms

Students at Luther High School watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech" before a class discussion.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Students at Luther High School watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech" before a class discussion.

Polls suggest this is one of the the most politically divided moments in American history. There are now tip sheets on how to survive Thanksgiving without disowning your family, and the comment sections of online news articles are full of vitriol.

Schools are not immune to the tension, but not everyone thinks that’s a bad thing.

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To Help Save Monarchs, Oklahoma Conservationists Work to Repair a Plant’s Weedy Reputation

A tagged Monarch butterfly on a flowering lantana plant at the Oklahoma City.

CARE_SMC / Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

A tagged Monarch butterfly on a flowering lantana plant at the Oklahoma City.

Stephanie Henson admires her colorful backyard garden in Edmond. Approaching a pink-and-white plant, she squeals and laughs and she spots some butterflies.

“Oh look, they’re itty-bitty,” she says. “Look at ’em!”

Henson doesn’t know much about gardening, but she’s doing what she can to attract butterflies, which is what conservation specialists and government officials are trying to encourage here in Oklahoma and across the country.

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New Law Gives Oklahoma More Responsibility In Finding And Fixing Failing Schools

20170921-Hofmeister-ESSA_web

Oklahoma State Department of Education

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister

Many people say the former massive federal education law, No Child Left Behind, was a failure. When President George W. Bush signed it in 2002, he set a huge goal for the country: Every child would meet the proficiency standard on state tests by 2014.

But, that never happened.

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