Emily Wendler

StateImpact Oklahoma

Emily Wendler joined KOSU in February 2015, following graduate school at the University of Montana.

While studying Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism with an emphasis on agriculture, a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love.

The Cincinnati native has since reported for KBGA, 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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Many schools in Oklahoma were closed all week while their teachers rallied at the state capitol for more funding. Yesterday, the state Senate passed two measures that would increase money for schools by about $40 million. But the union leading the walkout said it's not enough, and they'll be back at the Capitol protesting on Monday. Emily Wendler in Oklahoma City has more.

EMILY WENDLER, BYLINE: Teachers in Oklahoma got a pay raise last week, but now they want more money for the classroom. And they've been rallying hard for that money all week.

Ryan LaCroix / KOSU

Update 4:22 p.m.

The state’s largest teachers union says the teacher walkout will continue next week despite the Senate passing two revenue-raising measures today. The Oklahoma Education Association also laid out new demands it says lawmakers must meet for teachers to return to the classroom.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

Oklahoma’s state Capitol has been a madhouse all week. Teachers pack the rotunda early, and by 9 a.m. the chants are loud enough to echo through the tunnels underneath the building.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma teachers continued to rally Wednesday at the state capitol, the third day of a planned teacher walkout. Educators filled the capitol to capacity, urging lawmakers to hear their demands for more education funding.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, wants more money for the classroom and it identified legislation they think would achieve that. One is a bill allowing ball and dice games in casinos, another would repeal some capital gains exemptions.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Updated 7:11 p.m.

As House members were preparing to adjourn, Republican Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols announced that he had just been notified by the state Senate that they would hear House Bill 1013XX on Thursday. 

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 10:32 p.m.

Schools across Oklahoma closed for a second day, as teachers continue to rally for more education funding.

Packed the inside the Capitol building – thousands of people chanted “What do we want? Funding! When do we want it? Now.”

State lawmakers approved a teacher pay raise last week, but educators say this rally is about getting more money for the classroom.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Teachers are protesting in the state capitols of Oklahoma and Kentucky, as heard here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHERS: (Singing) We're not going to take it anymore.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Updated 5:25 p.m.

Public schools from every corner of the state closed their doors today as teachers walked out of the classroom and marched at the Oklahoma capitol to protest years of cuts to education funding.

Last week, Governor Mary Fallin signed the first statewide tax increase in nearly 30 years to give teachers a roughly $6,100 raise. The nearly $450 million deal increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production in hopes of heading off the teacher walkout.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After months of gridlock and failed deal-making, the Oklahoma House and Senate have passed a nearly $450 million tax package designed to fund raises for teachers and avoid statewide school closures.

Gov. Mary Fallin said she’ll sign the tax package, which fell short of teachers’ demands. Educators still plan to march at the Capitol April 2 to pressure lawmakers to spend more on schools and public employees and continue a debate that has highlighted growing gaps and frustrations over taxes and government.

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