Emily Wendler

In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.

KWGS News File Photo

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments today—over whether a petition to overturn new state taxes is legal. 

A group called Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite is circulating a petition to overturn HB1010xx—a nearly $430 million dollar tax package that lawmakers passed this year. If the anti-tax group gets enough petition signatures—the issue will go to a vote of the people, likely in November. 

Two different groups, however, have filed legal challenges to this petition—claiming it is unconstitutional. 

When Evan Taylor heard that Oklahoma teachers planned to walkout, he converted his small Tulsa church into a "glorified daycare" furnished with board games, crafts and a movies to keep kids entertained.

All this week schools across Oklahoma were closed as public school teachers rallied at the state Capitol for better pay and more money for the classroom.

After 10 years of budget cuts and some of the lowest teacher wages in the nation, teachers say they've had enough.

Pay in Oklahoma has been so low, in fact, that districts often suffer from severe teacher shortages — many talented educators have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. Some estimates put the number of teachers who have left near 2,000.

OEA

The Legislature passed the nearly $450 million deal increasing taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production to head off the teacher walkout.

And shortly before she signed it, Governor Fallin said she hoped teachers rallying at the capitol would thank lawmakers and go back to the classrooms.

But most teachers at the march said the pay raise package was a small step after years of funding neglect.

Google Street View

Oklahoma lawmakers enacted legislation in 2015 that lets school employees,  including teachers, carry guns on campus. The town of Okay appears to have the only district that uses the law to arm its staff.

Pete Hiseley was not the superintendent in 2015 when the Okay Public School Board signed off on school employees carrying guns. He wasn’t sure about the policy at first — but after running the district for about 9 months, Hiseley says he feels comfortable with it.

A new report shows Oklahoma’s per-pupil education funding has dropped more --  over the last decade--  than any other state. The report says Oklahoma’s per-pupil school funding has decreased by 28 percent since 2008. In other words: The state is spending about one thousand dollars, per-child, less than it did 10 years ago.

These statistics only account for money lawmakers earmark for education through the school funding formula. The report does not include money from local bonds or federal dollars.

OKC PS

The Oklahoma City Public School –Board of Education- voted to change the names of three schools that were named after Confederate generals.

All seven board members voted in favor of changing the three school names. District Superintendent Aurora Lora says she is proud of the board for making this change..

LORA: The schools that were named after Confederate leaders do not reflect the values that we have in this school district in 2017.

Oklahoma City Community COllege

 

Soon-to-be-released statewide test scores are expected to be much lower than they were in the past, but top education officials say the drop is due to a more difficult grading system, not poor-performing students.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says the state has a new way of measuring student proficiency.

“This has been a time of recalibrating,” she said in an interview after a press conference held with reporters to explain the declining scores.

Funding Education

Apr 25, 2017
OPMX

Superintendents across Oklahoma are begging lawmakers to do something about school funding. Ultimately, school officials want more money, but that requires raising taxes, which is a tough thing to do in Oklahoma—for many reasons. However, this year, solutions are popping up in unexpected places.

The Superintendent of Ponca City Public Schools, David Pennington, said if education funding is cut next year he is going to have to drastically change the way his school functions.  

You can normally find Shawn Sheehan teaching math and special education in Norman, Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City. But school's out for the summer and instead, he's knocking on doors.

One-by-one he's asking voters in the state's central Senate District 15 to cast their vote for him. He's running unopposed in today's primary as an Independent, and after the polls close he'll know his Republican opponent.