Oklahoma

Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

emilywendler_forweb_0

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

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.

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Oklahoma City Public Schools Might Sue State For Underfunding Education

Oklahoma City Public School's Superintendent Aurora Lora and Board of Education member, Mark Mann, announce plans to sue the legislature over education funding.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma City Public School's Superintendent Aurora Lora and Board of Education member, Mark Mann, announce plans to sue the legislature over education funding.

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education is considering legal action against the legislature for underfunding education.

Board member Mark Mann said the Oklahoma Legislature puts mandates on schools without giving them enough money to fulfill the obligations, which he says creates unfunded liabilities for Oklahoma City Public Schools and other districts across the state. Continue Reading

Spurred By Violence In Charlottesville, Oklahoma City Public School Leaders Consider Changing School Names

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora is considering changing the names of four elementary schools.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora is considering changing the names of four elementary schools.

Recent violent events in Charlottesville have spurred Oklahoma City Public School board members to consider the significance of school names like Lee, Jackson, Stand Watie, and Wheeler.

The four schools are named after Confederate Civil War officers, and board members have expressed interest in changing the school names. Continue Reading

Teach First, Train Later: Becoming An Emergency Certified Teacher In Oklahoma

Lindsay Judd will be one of hundreds of emergency certified teachers taking the helm of Oklahoma classrooms this year.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lindsay Judd will be one of hundreds of emergency certified teachers taking the helm of Oklahoma classrooms this year.

Oklahoma schools are becoming more and more reliant on teachers with no training.

A lack of school funding, low pay, and waning morale have driven many of the experienced teachers out of the classroom, or out of the state.

Continue Reading

When School Lets Out and Meals End, Educators Struggle to Feed Students Over the Summer

Heidi De Leon, 18, and her younger brother regularly get free lunch through Oklahoma's summer feeding program.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact

Heidi De Leon, 18, and her younger brother regularly get free lunch through Oklahoma's summer feeding program.

For some low-income children in Oklahoma, summer does not mean vacation and playtime — It means being hungry. The lunch and breakfast these kids receive at school is no longer readily available, so they often go without — or they eat junk food. And while Oklahoma has summer food programs to combat this, there are roadblocks for many children.

Continue Reading

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education