Morning Bell: The politics of the teacher walkout

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Retired Staff Sgt. Ted Krey writes the name of a favorite teacher on a sign held by Blake Coward on the 11th day of a walkout by Oklahoma teachers on the south side of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 12, 2018. Coward has been at the Capitol having people write the names of favorite teachers on his signs. Krey, who served in the U.S. Marines, Army and Air Force, is at the Capitol portraying Capt. Samuel Nicholson. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Retired Staff Sgt. Ted Krey writes the name of a favorite teacher on a sign held by Blake Coward on the 11th day of a walkout by Oklahoma teachers on the south side of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 12, 2018. Coward has been at the Capitol having people write the names of favorite teachers on his signs. Krey, who served in the U.S. Marines, Army and Air Force, is at the Capitol portraying Capt. Samuel Nicholson. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Good Monday morning. My weekend was spent trying to catch my breath after the two-week teacher walkout. I image it was much of the same for educators across the state. 

While the massive demonstrations at the Capitol are over, the impact of the walkout will last for years. And the presence of teachers at the Capitol isn’t over as some schools have pledged to send delegates this week. 

There were tons of story lines from the walkout. One popular narrative, especially for national outlets, was that the walkout was a red-state revolt, where teachers pushed back on nearly a decade of Republican dominance. 

To call the teacher walkout an anti-Republican demonstration could ignore the fact that most teachers are registered Republicans. Then again, there are some Republican teachers who say their party has an image problem when it comes to public education. 

“I feel like everybody looks at Republicans as not pro-education,” said Sherrie Conley, a Republican candidate in House District 20, who is also a teacher. “I want everyone to know that Republicans care about education, too.”

On Sunday, I wrote about how the teacher walkout may not have started as a partisan event, but politics quickly came into play. You can read that story here

On last week’s episode of Political State, we discussed the politics of the teacher strike and what to expect this election season. You can watch that video above or click here if you are reading this in your email. 

Back to school

Many schools reopened last Friday. However, Oklahoma City, Broken Arrow, Bixby, Jenks and Union public schools will return to class today. Tulsa Public Schools teachers will return Monday and classes will resume on Tuesday, reports the Tulsa World


Teachers and supporters of increased education funding continue to rally on the south side of the state Capitol on the 11th day of a walkout by Oklahoma teachers in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 12, 2018. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Teachers and supporters of increased education funding continue to rally on the south side of the state Capitol on the 11th day of a walkout by Oklahoma teachers in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 12, 2018. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

While the Oklahoma Education Association called off the walkout on Thursday, and most teachers returned home on Friday, there were some who came to the Capitol for one last day of demonstrations

“We teachers started this movement, so we will be the ones to end it,” said Alberto Morejon, a Stillwater teacher who authors a walkout Facebook page with nearly 80,000 members. “From this point on … it’s about us teachers keeping our own voice going.”

Classroom conditions

The New York Times invited America’s public school educators to show the conditions that a decade of budget cuts has wrought in their schools. They heard from 4,200 teachers. Here is a selection of the submissions.

Yukon schools to close on Election Day

As the teacher walkout ended this week, many educators said they were turning their attention to the November elections. 

Yukon Public Schools intends to help. 

“… we intend to make a calendar revision for the upcoming school year and each year thereafter where school will not be in session on election day in November,” wrote Yukon Superintendent Jason Simeroth, in a letter posted Thursday

Oklahoma colleges enroll record number of Hispanic students

The Hispanic student population at Oklahoma public colleges and universities grew 44.5 percent in six years — from 9,810 in 2010-11 to 17,684 in 2016-17, according to data from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Of all degrees conferred in 2016-17 from public colleges and universities, 7 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 8 percent of associate degrees were awarded to students who identified as Hispanic.

More money for schools?

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, speaking at the Reagan Institute’s Summit on Education, said that more money and more regulation aren’t the solution to the recent stagnant scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress, reports Education Week

“If you look at per-pupil spending, it’s gone up since ‘A Nation at Risk’ was reported,” DeVos said in an on-stage interview with Willliam Bennett, one of Reagan’s secretaries of education.  “Scores continue to muddle along. This is not something we’re going to spend our way out of, and this is not something we’re going to mandate or regulate our way out of.”

Instead, DeVos thinks states need to consider more “student centered” policies, inspired by Florida’s example.  The Sunshine State was the only state to show significant improvement in math in 4th and 8th grade and in 8th grade reading on the NAEP

Two state teachers win ag awards

Two Oklahomans are among 40 K-12 teachers from across the United States selected to receive scholarships to attend the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference scheduled June 27-29 in Portland, Maine. The scholarships are from the CHS Foundation.

Selected from Oklahoma were Debra Deskin, a gifted and talented program teacher at Orvis Risner and Charles Haskell in Edmond, and Michelle Spurgin, first-grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary in Duncan.





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