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Morning Bell: Teachers ask 'Where's the love?'

Good Wednesday morning. It's Valentine's Day, but many teachers across Oklahoma are asking, "Where's the love?"

A day after a proposed $5,000 teacher pay raise failed to clear a vote in the state House, teachers across the state expressed a continued sense of frustration with state lawmakers. 

“There’s just a sense of deep disappointment,” Union teacher Shelley Zevnik Breece told the Tulsa World. “It’s demoralizing — we’re kind of losing hope that something will be done. It’s very disappointing that there’s so many people in the Legislature that just don’t get it.”

Past legislative sessions that came and went without an increase in educator salaries felt like defeats for teachers. The failure of State Questions 779 in 2016 was a blow. And this week's House vote  had more teachers saying they were considering following the footsteps of many other teachers who have left the state and the profession. 

“Teachers are leaving Oklahoma, and it’s the pay that’s driving them away,” Jeanie Cox, a Roosevelt Middle School instructor, told NonDoc. “It’s been 10 years. Where’s the better plan?”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the bill defeat was "a soul-crushing blow to public education in Oklahoma."

Yesterday was Election Day and at least 34 school districts across the state passed bond proposals, including Ada, Konawa, Jenks and Union.  

In school board races - Ruth Veales won reelection in Oklahoma City, bringing consistency to a board that has seen a lot of change in recent years. In the Tulsa school board race, incumbent Shawna Keller won, beating challenger Raymon Simpson by 141 votes.

In Broken Arrow, John Cockrell edged out Theresa Williamson by 17 votes in a race where only 265 votes were cast.

“It’s been a privilege to serve the past five years as BAPS board member. I will continue to support the district in any way I can,” Williamson said in a text message Tuesday night.

Owasso superintendent to retire 

Owasso Public Schools Superintendent Clark Ogilvie will retire at the end of the school year after 14 years with the district, reports the Tulsa World

Ogilvie made the announcement at Monday's school board meeting and sent a statement to district staff about his decision. He told the Tulsa World that on Tuesday morning he received a text from  his brother, who retired from education several years ago. 

"He said it may not make much sense to jump off a moving train, but you'll  be glad you did," Ogilvie said, adding that it feels good to be  departing while everything is going so well for the district.

The OKC Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Coalition has a poster/essay contest for Oklahoma students. Prizes will be awarded in different categories. Details can be found here

Beckham adjusts private-school proposal

Blanchard superintendent Jim Beckham is still working to separate private schools and public schools in high school activities.

Beckham has formed a new proposal to separate the schools in the postseason one week after his initial proposal was voted down by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors.

Under the new proposal, only private schools will be included. The old proposal also included charter schools and magnet schools.

Inadequate funding 

Seventy-three percent of America's superintendents say their school districts are inadequately funded, and about 62 percent say that they do not have a way to make up the shortfall if federal and state aid are cut in the upcoming school year, according to Education Week. Forty-percent said they expected state and local revenues to be cut.

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 ›