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The Morning Bell: Should OKCPS be divided into three districts?

On Sunday, I tweeted a letter to the editor submitted by a former OKC school board member who proposed that the state's largest school district should be divided into three separate districts, which was his response to the news that another superintendent was stepping down after a short tenure. 

Former board member Bob Hammack's proposal was to separate the northeast side and the southside as individual districts. Hammack is no longer a board member, so his idea is noteworthy, even if not an indication of any real thoughts by the current board (of which I have heard none concerning this idea, other than the frequent refrain that Oklahoma City Public Schools is hard to manage in its current size). 

But the tweet did draw some interesting thoughts from readers. Here are a few: 

Whether it's a good idea or not (once again, there is no organized effort) it highlights the unique challenges large urban school districts face. 

Back to the superintendent search, current school board members told The Oklahoman they want the next leader of OKCPS to be a team player and govern in partnership with the school board.

Legislative session begins today

The 2018 regular session of the state Legislature begins today at noon with the governor's State of the State address. I'll be at the Capitol tweeting (you can follow here) and reporting on what Gov. Mary Fallin says concerning education. 

The budget remains the biggest challenge for state lawmakers. The Oklahoman's Dale Denwalt writes that problems with the state budget have persisted through four regular sessions (and two specials) as legislators have struggled to fill consecutive budget shortfalls. 

Oklahoma Watch took a look at what Fallin has said in past State of the State addresses and what has happened since. 

On last week's episode of Political State, we broke down the major story lines facing the Legislature. 

Several education groups are backing a series of tax increases that would fund a teacher pay raise. “Bottom line is we are in a crisis situation in education and if we don't address it very quickly ... it is going to be devastating to us," said Rick Garrison, superintendent of Elk City Public Schools and president of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators, which hosted Wednesday's legislative conference in Oklahoma City.

KIPP Tulsa wants to expand to high school

KIPP Tulsa charter school, which opened in 2005, has applied to open a high school in north Tulsa starting next school year, reports the Tulsa World. KIPP Tulsa is a part of the San Francisco-based Knowledge is Power Program, which operates charter schools across the U.S.

If approved by the Tulsa School Board, the high school would have an inaugural ninth-grade class of 125 students, adding one new grade each year until it reaches enrollment of about 500 across four grades.

Regents honor scholarship recipients' schools

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have recognized schools as Oklahoma's Promise State Champions for having the most scholarship recipients among their 2017 graduates.

Union High School in Tulsa was the Class 6A champion for the sixth straight year with 152 graduates who completed the program, and Santa Fe South in Oklahoma City won the Class 5A championship for the ninth straight time with 67 graduates. Oklahoma City's Southeast High School, 5A winner for the past four years, was runner-up with 58 graduates.

State  Dept of Ed looks to long-term planning

"It is the first time in a long, long time that we have had a long-term vision and a goal with very detailed steps,” said state superintendent JoyHofmeister, speaking last week at the Northwest Oklahoma Alliance luncheon. “The Oklahoma Department of Transportation for roads and bridge has a plan and that has worked very well, and we think that it is very important for us to have as well.”

In her address, Hofmeister laid out a structured plan for improving education service and outcomes in the state, reports the Enid News and Eagle

According to Hofmeister, this year is a total reset after reforming educational standards and testing for the first time last spring using those standards.

Devon awarded Science Giants grants totaling $50,000 to assist with STEM education at West Field Elementary and Deer Creek Intermediate schools in Edmond and Crooked Oak High School in Oklahoma City, reports the Edmond Sun. West Field Elementary received $25,000 to create two Nature Explore outdoor classrooms for grades K-2. Each outdoor classroom will have a sand and water center, a building area, a nature art center and tools such as magnifying glasses and tape measures.

Teaching slavery

Most students are not being taught the truth about slavery in school, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights and advocacy organization. Instead, what students are taught about slavery is fragmentary, without context, and worst of all, glossed over or sanitized, says the report, which was released this morning. You can read more from Education Week

That's it for today's Morning Bell. Once again, I'll be at the state Capitol today for the start of the Legislative session. NewsOK will also have a special episode of Political State at 3 p.m. 

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 ›