Oklahoma

Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

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Emily Wendler

Emily Wendler joined KOSU in February 2015, following graduate school at the University of Montana. While studying Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism with an emphasis on agriculture, a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. The Cincinnati native has since reported for KBGA, University of Montana’s college radio station, and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio.

  • Email: emily@kosu.org

Other State Workers Feel Ignored As Teacher Walkout Continues

Oklahoma Educators and supporters rally outside the state Capitol on Monday.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Educators and supporters rally outside the state Capitol on Monday.

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

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Governor Signs Teacher Pay Raise Bill, Some Educators Are Still Walking Out

Flanked by teachers from the Professional Oklahoma Educators organization, Governor Mary Fallin signs a new teacher pay raise into law. March 29, 2018. .

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin signs a teacher pay raise into law on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

Governor Mary Fallin signed a teacher pay raise into law on Thursday, giving educators their first state-funded salary boost in 10 years. On average, they’ll get about $6,000, but many of them are still walking out of their classrooms on Monday.

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Lawmakers Pass Rare Tax Increase For Education, But Funding Falls Short Of Teachers’ Demands

Teachers, parents and students at a March 2018 education rally in downtown Tulsa.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Teachers, parents and students at a March 2018 education rally in downtown Tulsa.

After months of gridlock and failed deal-making, the Oklahoma House and Senate have passed a nearly $450 million tax package designed to fund raises for teachers and avoid statewide school closures.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she’ll sign the tax package, which fell short of teachers’ demands. Educators still plan to march at the Capitol April 2 to pressure lawmakers to spend more on schools and public employees and continue a debate that has highlighted growing gaps and frustrations over taxes and government.

 

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House Passes Bill To Raise Teacher Pay, Union Says “April 2 is still on”

In a late-night attempt to stave off a statewide teacher walkout, the Oklahoma House passed a series of bills that gives teachers a $5,000 to $7,000 raise – depending on their experience.

The package of bills also raises pay for school support staff and state employees, however it’s not clear if the legislation – as written – is enough to keep teachers from descending on the Capitol on April 2nd.

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Oklahoma Teachers Union To Announce Plan For Statewide Walkout

Oklahoma teachers rallied in support of the Step Up Oklahoma plan on February 12, 2018. The plan would have provided $5,000 teacher pay raises, but failed in the House.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma teachers rallied in support of the Step Up Oklahoma plan on February 12, 2018. The plan would have provided $5,000 teacher pay raises, but failed in the House.

The state’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, says they will announce the details of a statewide teacher walkout on Thursday.

Alicia Priest, the president of the OEA, says years of failed attempts by the legislature to increase education funding and teacher pay have forced the organization to consider the walkout.

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Oklahoma Superintendent Speaks Out About His District’s Decision To Let Teachers Carry Guns

A demonstration in Washington, D.C., organized by Teens For Gun Reform in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Lorie Shaull / Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A demonstration in Washington, D.C., organized by Teens For Gun Reform in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Oklahoma lawmakers enacted legislation in 2015 that lets school employees, including teachers, carry guns on campus. Okay Public Schools, near Tahlequah, appears to be the only district in the state that uses the law to arm its staff.

Superintendent Pete Hiseley did not work for the district in 2015 when the Okay Public School Board agreed to let school employees carry guns.

“I can’t speak for all the reasons that this policy was put in place,” he said, “I can only speculate it was for the betterment and protection of our students and our staff.”

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One Oklahoma Student Plans For An Uncertain Future As DACA Deadline Looms

The principal at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City wants undocumented students to feel safe in school, so he put "Dreamers Welcome" signs throughout the building.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The principal at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City wants undocumented students to feel safe in school, so he put "Dreamers Welcome" signs throughout the building.

When President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last September, he put 700,000 immigrants’ futures in jeopardy.


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New Curriculum Gives Schools Online Tools To Teach Race Riot History That’s Often Glossed Over

The curriculum on the Tulsa Race Riot includes discussions on articles, video clips and photos, including this one of the flourishing Greenwood District before the riot.

Tulsa Historical Society And Museum

The curriculum on the Tulsa Race Riot includes discussions on articles, video clips and photos, including this one of the flourishing Greenwood District before the riot.

The Tulsa Race Riots lasted 2 days. Thirty-five blocks of black neighborhoods were destroyed and at least 39 people died. Historians now agree it was among the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. History. However, State Senator Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, says many Oklahoma teachers often brush over the topic, or teach it incorrectly. He hopes a new Tulsa Race Riot curriculum can change that.

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