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Morning Bell: Oklahoma's broad definition of bilingual students

Nearly $24 million was funneled to school districts this year for bilingual students who may not be receiving any additional language support.

The reason is because Oklahoma has a uniquely broad definition of bilingual students, which includes students who speak another language at home, even if they are proficient in English.

Because a student's bilingual designation never changes, the extra state funding that follows them will last until graduation.

“Once you're bilingual you are bilingual, that's not going to change,” said Matt Holder, deputy superintendent of finance and federal programs for the state Department of Education.

In Sunday's Oklahoman, I wrote about the state's bilingual funding formula and conversations about changing it to target students who need the most support. 

Teacher and student contests

The Oklahoman's Newspapers in Education program has several contests for teachers and students, including one that asks students to create a PSA on the risks for developing lung cancer. you can find more info about these contests here

First year superintendent talks with World

Janet Dunlop’s first year or so as superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools has been marked by patience, tragedy and resilience - see recently sat down with the Tulsa World to discuss it. One topic discussed was her decision to "pause" discussions on dividing the high school.

New director for American Indian Education

On Monday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced that Julian Guerrero Jr. will serve as executive director for American Indian Education at the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).

In his new position, Guerrero will work to further the educational opportunities of American Indian students in Oklahoma while facilitating collaboration among Oklahoma’s tribal nations, school districts and educators.

“I look forward to sustaining meaningful partnership and consultation with all 39 tribal nations for the benefit of all our American Indian students across the state of Oklahoma,” said Guerrero. “I am dedicated to this work because there is a critical need to support the next generation of tribal nation builders. My priority is for all American Indian students to receive practical supports and services that increase their college and career readiness.”

Trying to help a troubled student

The Washington Post has a detailed story on how teachers in Broward County schools had attempted to help Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter last week's school shooting. The article outlines how teachers often respond to "troubled" students, sometimes running into a system that seems to offer a lack of support. 

From The Post: Teachers began to press school administrators to have Cruz transferred to Cross Creek School, a K-12 public school for students with emotional and behavior disabilities that offers intensive psychiatric counseling. But one of Cruz’s former teachers said the referral process into Cross Creek was agonizingly slow, complicated by a lack of classroom space and cumbersome state procedures for officially designating a student as a potential threat to himself or others.

“And the only reason I’m talking to you is because people need to know that it shouldn’t be this hard to get someone the help they need," said a former teacher of Cruz. 

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 ›