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The Morning Bell: Few educators thankful for gov's plan

Happy Thanksgiving! Art work by my son, Satchel.
Happy Thanksgiving! Art work by my son, Satchel.

It’s Thanksgiving, so hopefully you aren’t necessarily reading today’s Morning Bell at the crack of dawn. Here’s hoping you have a relaxing day with friends and family. 

I’m thankful for you reading the Morning Bell, and especially thankful to those readers who subscribe to The Oklahoman. You are what makes our work possible. Thanks!

Educators across the state are still trying to figure out Gov. Mary Fallin’s call for schools to consolidate administrative services. Tim Willert and I worked on a story for today’s Oklahoman that looked at how Fallin’s goal of getting school districts past the 60 percent threshold when it comes to spending on instruction might not be as easy as she thinks. 

Even if all administrative expenses were shifted into instruction, most districts still would not meet the 60 percent threshold, according to The Oklahoman's analysis of the NCES data.

"This idea completely discounts the total cost associated with educating a child," said Jason James, the superintendent of Alex Public Schools in south central Oklahoma. "Fuel costs money, buildings and building repairs cost money. To be an efficient school we have to not only invest in teachers, but teacher aides, librarians, custodians and social programs."

You can read more here

My story includes responses from some education leaders. In an interview with KOCO, one Oklahoma superintendent wondered if Fallin was “incompetent or just lazy?"

One teacher fired, another returns

The former head football coach at Douglass Mid-High School has been fired because of an undisclosed impropriety.

Willis Alexander last coached the Trojans during the 2016 season. He also taught students with learning disabilities at the school in northeast Oklahoma City.

At Classen School of Advanced Studies, a teacher accused of "inappropriate conduct" is scheduled to return to the classroom Monday, nearly two months after being suspended with pay.

The unidentified teacher allegedly violated Oklahoma City Public Schools' teacher conduct policy in late September, school and district officials said. The teacher was placed on paid leave pending the results of a school district investigation.

Norman discusses test scores

Norman schools announced the results of their end of the year exam scores under new state standards. But school leaders were more concerned with comparing the district's scores with other districts, rather than the previous year. 

Via the Norman Transcript: In language arts, third graders in Norman averaged at 44 percent compared to 39 percent as the state average. Fourth grade tested at 45 percent compared to a state average of 37 percent, fifth grade at 52 percent compared to 40 percent and sixth grade at 44 percent compared to 40 percent for the state average.

Grant for Yukon teachers

For Jennifer Redway, a grant from the Yukon Public School Foundation for Excellence means that her students at Parkland Elementary will get a little extra education this year, reports the Yukon Review.

Redway, who teaches music, received a grant Thursday during the foundation’s annual recognition banquet. She was one of 31 teachers who were honored for innovative ideas during the event.

“It means an opportunity for my students to learn more about music. Any kind of extra help is a big thing. When you pour your own resources, you hit a point where you can’t do anything else. So, you have to have extra help,” Redway said.

Opioids crisis is ravaging schools

David Cox, the superintendent in Allegany County in western Maryland, testified before Congress this month, and spoke to Education Week about what his district of 74,000 students needs to deal with the growing opioid crisis. 

“We have kids who have lost their parents, and, unfortunately, there have been situations where the parents have overdosed with the kids watching,” he said.

You can read his interview with Education Weekhere

--Oklahoma has not been immune to America's growing drug epidemic, and it's having an impact on the state's youth, whether they have also become users, or are being raised in a home with parents who use.

“Nowadays you see a lot more kids involved in the prescription pills,” said Chris Lambakis, a drug and alcohol counselor for El Reno Public Schools, who said the biggest challenge he faces in preventing students from using drugs is dealing with growing drug use at students' homes.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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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 ›