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Articles written by Jennifer Palmer

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Oklahoma State Auditor Q&A: 'I believe people own the government'

Since taking office as the State Auditor & Inspector, Cindy Byrd has handled some political footballs with audits of the state's largest virtual charter school, the state health department and...

 

IRS investigating Epic Charter Schools finances

Epic Charter Schools is facing another investigation of its finances and governance, this one by the Internal Revenue Service, Oklahoma Watch has learned. The online charter school's board chairman...

 

Inside a potentially one-sided race for State Superintendent

Erika Wright has been a Democrat and a Republican, and, until recently, was registered Independent. “I tend to vote for people versus party,” she said. She made another switch last week – back to Republican – specifically to vote for state... Full story

 

Oklahoma's ban on school mask mandates is on hold. Here's what you need to know

Oklahoma’s law preventing schools from mandating masks is temporarily on hold due to a judge’s ruling Wednesday morning, Sept. 1. That means school districts can move forward with a mask requirement on school campuses potentially by early this...

 

Epic's new board chair founded a charter school. Its start has been rocky

To improve its board oversight, the state’s largest online school has turned to a businessman who founded the state’s first rural charter school. Paul Campbell was named chairman of Community Strategies, Epic Charter Schools’ governing board,...

 

A closer look at Oklahoma's move to alter education funding and make student transfers easier

Two education measures finalized this week mark a win for those who subscribe to the philosophy that public tax dollars should follow students to the school of their choice. Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed into law bills to alter the school... Full story

 

Gauging a plan to alter education funding in Oklahoma

A proposal to adjust the school funding formula could strip millions from urban and rural districts and shift it to others. Had it been in place this year, Oklahoma City Public Schools' state aid... Full story

 

Cheat codes: Students search for shortcuts as virtual schooling expands

Computer programmer Gradyn Wursten still updates a project he created to hack his high school homework. As a sophomore, he used an old MacBook with a cracked screen and bulging battery to write the co...

 

State offers five calendar options for school year

The disruption COVID-19 has caused to schools is likely to continue into the new school year, and the state Education Department is asking school leaders to begin planning for it. Schools should adopt multiple calendars, one primary and others as...

 

State offers five calendar options for school year

The disruption COVID-19 has caused to schools is likely to continue into the new school year, and the state Education Department is asking school leaders to begin planning for it. Schools should adopt multiple calendars, one primary and others as...

 

As Oklahoma reopens, cities shy away from enforcing restrictions

Police in some of Oklahoma's largest cities are electing to use a softer touch, rather than aggressive enforcement, with state and local business restrictions as Oklahoma gradually reopens amid the...

 
 By Jennifer Palmer    Local    May 10, 2020

Shift to distance learning highlights stark inequities in internet connection

When the coronavirus pandemic closed school buildings, teachers were tasked with connecting to students from afar. Suddenly, students' lack of home internet access was in the spotlight. A mid-March...

 

Epic Charter grads less likely to enroll in college

Like many teenagers, Maggie Waldon caught a sort of senioritis halfway through a traditional high school. She was ready to be done. With two years left, she enrolled in Epic Charter Schools, the... Full story

 

Highlights of Stitt's State of the State address, annotated

Gov. Kevin Stitt used his second State of the State speech Monday to urge lawmakers to continue his effort to transform state government and turn Oklahoma into a "top ten state." Among the most dramat...

 

State defines line it would draw for allowing 4-day school weeks

The state’s bar has been set for schools to operate on a four-day week and the requirements could force many schools back to five days a week. School leaders and community members can weigh in for the next three weeks on new proposed...

 

State defines line it would draw for allowing 4-day school weeks

The state’s bar has been set for schools to operate on a four-day week and the requirements could force many schools back to five days a week. School leaders and community members can weigh in for the next three weeks on new proposed...

 

In Oklahoma, a discredited theory of reading is widely used

In classrooms across Oklahoma and the nation, students are taught to read using a theory that has been discredited by decades of research by brain scientists. This "three-cueing system," first propose...

 

Gun deaths in Oklahoma: Trends, laws and survival

Mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend have put gun deaths and firearm laws back in the spotlight. Oklahoma's last major mass shooting event was in 1986, when 14 people were killed at an...

 

Has oversight of Epic Schools been lax?

In his request for a search warrant, a law enforcement agent described Epic Charter Schools as being set up a decade ago as a profit-generating "scheme." And he described the school's co-founders as...

 

For first time, 'read or fail' law is fully funded. Will it reduce retentions?

One of the state’s most contentious education initiatives, the Reading Sufficiency Act, is fully funded for the first time, with $12 million dedicated to fund supports for struggling readers in the 2019-20 school year. The reading law has for six y...

 

Public school's switch to charter allows Epic to operate rural district

To save his financially imperiled school district, Panola Superintendent Brad Corcoran in 2017 pitched a plan to convert the traditional public district into a charter school. In becoming a charter, Panola Public Schools would turn over its managemen...

 

State leaders face dilemma in addressing class sizes

A temporary measure allowing schools to exceed class-size limits without financial penalties will automatically end in five months unless the Legislature acts this session. But none of the solutions are ideal, placing policymakers in a bind. If they...

 

Are 5th graders ready for middle school?

Fifth graders in Oklahoma City Public Schools will be joining older peers in middle schools across the district under a proposal unveiled this week. The fifth-through-eighth-grade middle school model isn’t very common, especially in large districts...

 

Oklahoma nearly tops nation in holding back early-grade students

As a first grader, Tricia Willyard’s son struggled to read. The educators at his school recommended he repeat first grade – something Willyard, herself an educator in a nearby district, at first opposed. She knew what the research said about... Full story

 

Revamped school report cards have new look, different focus

After a two-year hiatus, school report cards are coming back. The school accountability tool underwent a significant revamp and will now include student test scores, a new way of measuring academic growth and measures of chronic absenteeism and...

 

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