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Articles written by Jennifer Palmer

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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...

 

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...

 

Despite pitfalls, more schools introduce self-paced learning

There are 75 middle-school students in the long, sunlit room, sitting four to a table. They work quietly and independently on laptops, most wearing headphones. Some fidget, their chairs rocking with them. A teacher sits at a desk reviewing the studen...

 

OU pulls back on touted National Merit Scholars program

For decades, the University of Oklahoma has been recruiting and heavily investing in National Merit Scholars – academically advanced students who score in the top 1 percent on a standardized test. Former President David Boren was the biggest...

 

Can schools meet Fallin's demand to spend more money in the classroom?

Amid an intensifying drumbeat of political promises to propel schools to spend more of their dollars in the classroom, Crescent Public Schools stands out. The district of 600 students in Logan County spent 64 percent of its total funding in 2016-17...

 

Medical Marijuana: What the research shows

One of the central issues in the debate over the medical-marijuana question on Tuesday’s election ballot is whether scientific research confirms that marijuana can offer health benefits. Up to now, a marijuana-derived drug had not been approved as...

 

Teachers say pay is important, but issues facing the profession go deeper

Teachers, students and supporters march around the state Capitol and across the 23rd Street overpass on April 2 during a walkout aimed at increasing education funding. Boosting teacher pay by an average of $6,000 – which the Legislature approved...

 

Despite objections, Oklahoma schools use 'seclusion rooms' to isolate students

A controversial practice of shutting children alone in small closet-like rooms to control their behavior has led Oklahoma parents to withdraw their children from school, seek police intervention and take legal action. School officials give the rooms...

 

Virtual schools could reap largest gains in charter schools lawsuit

This story was updated Nov. 3 to include a court hearing in which a judge decided to allow local school districts to intervene in a charter-school group’s lawsuit. Virtual charter schools stand to receive the largest share of local tax funding if...

 

Newly obtained surveys show concerns over education standards law

Advocates for students with disabilities, minority students and low-income students were among the stakeholders who weighed in on the state’s plan for education under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some had recommendations adopted in the final pla...

 

Within teacher shortage, the pool of special education teachers dwindles

Special education teachers have become so scarce that districts face fierce competition to find and keep good candidates and sometimes leave open positions unfilled. That's why late one night last...

 

Analysis: What to watch in potential school funding lawsuit

A school funding lawsuit, like the one being considered by the Oklahoma City Public Schools board, threatens to force the state Legislature to find more money for schools — a maneuver attempted in nearly every state with varying degrees of...

 

Questions linger on dismissal of charges in Hofmeister case

Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister takes questions from reporters Tuesday after criminal charges against her and four others were dismissed. Just as suddenly as they appeared in...

 

Schools use loophole to exceed limit for pre-K classes

Small classes are a cornerstone of pre-K, but some districts are now raising a long-held cap on the number of students, a move that could dilute Oklahoma's most admired and arguably successful...

 

Tougher reading test means thousands more students could be held back

Oklahoma is raising the bar on its pivotal, high-stakes reading test administered to third graders, which is likely to leave more students at risk of repeating the third grade. Twelve percent of...

 

Summer and after-school care out of reach for many families

Two years ago, Erin DeVoe sent her son, Hayden, to summer camp at a private school at a cost of $250 a week, which crunched her budget. It wasn't even full-day, and she had to pick him up...

 

Students sometimes face 'lunch shaming' when they can't pay

In schools across the nation, including in Oklahoma, children whose school meal accounts aren’t paid in full sometimes face embarrassment in the cafeteria line. Some schools take away their trays and give them an alternative meal, like a cold...

 

Oklahoma schools beset by high principal turnover

Community members gathered in the cafeteria of Tulsa’s McLain High School on March 28 for a forum on the district’s search for a new principal for the school. For decades, principals have come and gone at Tulsa’s McLain High School so...

 

Oklahoma schools beset by high principal turnover

Community members gathered in the cafeteria of Tulsa’s McLain High School on March 28 for a forum on the district’s search for a new principal for the school. For decades, principals have come and gone at Tulsa’s McLain High School so...

 

Bill would require long-term suspension of elementary students for assaulting teacher

Students as young as pre-K can be, and are, suspended from Oklahoma schools for as long as the remainder of the school year for violating school rules. A proposal working its way through the Legislature would expand that by mandating lengthy...

 

Should state allow tax-credit donations to public schools?

Since 2013, Oklahoma taxpayers have been allowed to take a state income-tax credit in exchange for donations made to private schools. Now, a state lawmaker and others are wondering: Why not offer tax credits for donations to public schools? That, in...

 
 By Jennifer Palmer    Local    March 5, 2017

Hofmeister forms legal defense fund

A legal defense fund has been formed for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who is charged with conspiring to evade campaign finance laws during her 2014 bid for office. The...

 

Schools forego millions to expand meals for kids

At all elementary and middle schools and some high schools in the Houston Independent School District – 20 in all – every student begins the day with a free breakfast right in the classroom. The result: fewer absences and discipline problems and...

 

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