Morning Bell: Suspension disparity in Tulsa schools
Good Monday morning!
TODAY: The Morning Bell newsletter will continue to have a rundown of Oklahoma education stories, but I'm going to try and include insight into stories I'm working on and other peeks behind the newsroom curtain. Today I'm in Meridian, Oklahoma, a small town about 90 miles south of OKC. I'm spending a couple days at FAME Academy, an alternative school in the Comanche district.
You can see a video the school produced below. It's six years old, but offers some sights and sounds of FAME Academy.
Suspension disparity in Tulsa
Special-needs students in Tulsa Public Schools are suspended disproportionately as compared with traditional students — they make up more than a third of total students suspended but are less than 20 percent of the student body, reports the Tulsa World.
“We are just now, in the last two years — and really this year — really trying to focus on the function of the behavior that’s causing the problem. … We are trying to get down to the social-emotional piece and those trauma-informed practices that teach us to work with a challenging student in a different way. Everything doesn’t have to be punitive,” said Robin Emerson, interim director of TPS’ Exceptional Student Services Department.
School closes following threat
ASSOCIATED PRESS - A northeast Oklahoma school district canceled classes last week after what school and police officials say was a bogus threat of a school shooting.
Kansas Public School Principal Phil Isom says the threats began on social media after a fight between two girls, leading to low attendance that led to the decision to cancel Friday classes at the district, which is about 65 miles east of Tulsa.
Both Isom and Kansas Police Chief Mike Wilkerson say the alleged threat has been investigated and found to not be credible. Wilkerson said no one could tell investigators who made the threat.
Classes are to resume Monday.
Emergency certified teachers: Mike Brake, who served as chief writer for Gov. Frank Keating and for then-Lt. Gov. and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, and currently writes for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, wrote a column for NonDoc arguing that the rise in emergency certified teachers may not be as alarming as it appears. "Conventional wisdom holds that putting a large number of teachers who have not followed the traditional certification path into classrooms is a bad thing," Brake writes. "But according to some experts and a number of studies, that may not be true. What seems to matter most is who is doing the teaching." One of the things Brake points out is the lack of data on emergency teacher effectiveness, which state superintendent Joy Hofmeister has also lamented.
Finding certified teachers has become harder for many Oklahoma schools and the number of teachers graduating from Oklahoma colleges is on the decline. No matter your opinion on the effectiveness of emergency certified teachers, the reality is we have seen a dramatic growth in their use in recent years.
Finally, looking for an uplifting story this Monday morning? Three Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School students found $300 while on their school playground.
"I was like, 'Aw, this is fake,'" Jabaree, 12, recalled Thursday at the school. "Then I started looking at it and I saw the blue line and the $100 and I was like, 'Hold up, this might be real.'"
Jabaree and his friends decided to turn the money into the office.
"At first I thought about keeping it," Keenan said. "But then I was like, 'It's $300 and that's a lot of money, so somebody's probably going to come back looking for that."
You can read about what happened next here.
That does it for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Monday.