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Morning Bell: Gov candidates talk school safety, guns

Good Tuesday morning!

Following this month's shooting at a school in Florida, candidates for governor in Oklahoma have remarked on school safety and the role guns play. 

Republican candidate Kevin Stitt told The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel that, "As governor, my priority will be ensuring the safety and security of our schoolchildren. I will want to conduct a full audit in our public schools to ensure classrooms are using the latest safety methods and practices being implemented in other areas of the nation."

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, another GOP candidate for governor, said, "As a father of two school aged students and husband of a teacher, the tragic incident in Florida is certainly not the first time I have thought about school security. It is why I formed the Oklahoma Commission on School Security in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. I am communicating with former members of the commission to ensure dialogue between public security professionals and educators continues so Oklahoma students, teachers, school personnel and our rights are protected.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson, a former Oklahoma attorney general, said that state requirements for carrying a handgun should also apply to purchasing some semi-automatic rifles, a change that would prevent teenagers from buying them.

Stitt open to consolidation

During a visit to Norman, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt said he's open to school district consolidation, pointing out that Oklahoma has far more school districts than a state like Florida, but with a much lower population. (Norman Transcript

To strike or not

Fast-forward 28 years (after the last time Oklahoma teachers walked off the job), and the potential for another Oklahoma teacher strike may be worthy of public discussion, but whether a strike would solve the Legislature’s current revenue stalemate at this point remains unclear, writes William Savage of NonDoc. In his column, Savage discusses the potential opportunities and risks in teachers holding a strike. A plan of return should be included with any strike, according to a leader with the state's largest teachers union. 

School threats

An ongoing outbreak of social media threats against schools that began last week is putting a strain on the resources of those dealing with them, reports the Tulsa World

“God forbid one of these threats be real,” said Tulsa Police Sgt. Shane Tuell, whose department on Monday was looking into a threat made Sunday night against East Central High School.

Robot helps zap school germs

Moore Public Schools got a temporary addition to their cleaning staff last week when Norman Regional Health System lent out a robot to “zap” germs.

The schools already have a robust cleaning system, with a well-trained custodial staff and their own robots that spray a chlorine mist, Superintendent Robert Romines said. But an extra layer of protection was worthwhile in buildings that have had high absence rates due to illness. The Oklahoman's Meg Wingerter has more

Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year

Johnnie Keel, a teacher at Truman Elementary School, is the 2018 Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.

Keel switched careers from an office job in the oil business 22 years ago. Today, she is the gifted resource coordinator at Truman, which includes providing enrichment programs to all third-, fourth- and fifth-graders as well as weekly enrichments to more than 146 students in the gifted and talented program. She also teaches advanced math class for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Rose State launches state teaching pilot program

Rose State College will offer high school seniors in the Midwest City-Del City Public Schools classes that promote teaching in Oklahoma as a career through a pilot program beginning in August.

The program, known as Teach Oklahoma, provides a hands-on curriculum to help students gain knowledge in areas like child development, learning styles and lesson plans. The program was established within the Teacher Connection program, offered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Juanita Ortiz, dean of the social sciences division, said Rose State is leading the way to address the problem of Oklahoma's teacher shortage. The instructor will be a professor of family services and child development who is a state certified teacher.

This fall, 15 students from Mid-Del high schools will take a three-credit hour education planning course. Following the 18-week course, students will participate in an internship in the spring semester at an elementary school or middle school.

This Saturday: The Oklahoma Spelling Bee is March 3 and The Oklahoman will be live streaming the entire competition on 

That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Tuesday!

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 ›