Emily Wendler

Reporter

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

David Bitton / Oklahoma Watch

The State Department of Education is introducing a new math class for high schoolers that's aimed at reducing the need for math remediation in college.

Almost 40 percent of Oklahoma college freshman have to take a remedial math class for which they receive no credit, and the state Department of Education estimates this costs students and families millions of dollars.  

The new College Career Math Ready class, available next school year, will help kids brush up on their skills before college, and will hopefully save them time and money. 

oksenate.gov

Governor Mary Fallin stressed the need for teacher pay raises in her State of the State address on Monday, and has allocated $60 million toward $1,000 teacher salary bumps in her proposed budget.

But still, legislative leaders like Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz were hesitant to guarantee it would get done this year.

“Oh I think it’s going to be one of the main areas of discussion,” Schulz said, “And I think we will leave this session in May with a framework in place to put a teacher plan on the table moving forward.”

Flickr / texasbackroads

Every year, lawmakers file hundreds of education bills that have the potential to change the way schools operate. Some would implement minor tweaks, but others—like Education Savings Account legislation—are much more controversial.

In this list, we’ve tried to focus on the legislation that affects the bigger picture, and also the legislation that represents larger debates in the state.  

GENERAL INTEREST

The State Board of Education approved a new charter school in Seminole, Oklahoma on Thursday.

This makes the school one of the first rural charter schools in the state. It also makes this school one of the first charters to be approved, and sponsored by, the State Board of Education.

Charter schools are typically run and approved by local school boards, but the Seminole Public School Board of Education had denied this charter application twice, saying it was incomplete.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators invited legislators and community leaders to "teach for a day." The district hoped lawmakers would have a better understanding of a teacher's responsibilities after spending a day in their shoes.

Oklahoma Senator David Holt spent part of his day reading with first graders at Quail Creek Elementary School. Other lawmakers and community leaders went to other schools in the district.

Holt says he knows quite a bit about the school because his kids go there, but on Tuesday, he learned a lot more.

When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump's inauguration, we're going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.

Holdenville, Okla., is home to about 5,800 people. It has a small downtown with banks, restaurants and a few shops, though some are closed down.

Some Oklahoma City Public School Board members expressed concern about the district’s suspension rates at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

That's because African American students are still being suspended at a much higher rate than others. Currently African American students are 24 percent of the district’s population, but get 43 percent of the suspensions.

The federal Office of Civil Rights investigated the district for disproportionately suspending black students in 2014- and OKCPS vowed to address the issue.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will invest $2 million dollars in career development programs over the next three years. This money comes from a grant, funded by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

The U.S. economy is projected to produce millions of high-skill, well-paying jobs over the next decade, but more and more kids are graduating from high school unprepared for college or a career.

So JP Morgan Chase is pumping $20 million dollars in to ten states to change that. Oklahoma is one of those states.

ok.gov/sde/superintendent

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is asking legislators for an increase of $220 million in funding next year, despite a projected budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, Hofmeister made her case for the additional funds—saying they are essential to keep up with a growing student population and increased health care costs. She also says schools desperately need new textbooks, and new teachers need more professional development. 

The way School A-F Report Cards are calculated may soon change. 

The state Board of Education approved a new grading system on Thursday, and it will now go before the legislature for final approval.

The new system, set to go in to effect for the 2017-2018 school year, proposes using a single letter grade with no pluses or minuses. However, the overall report card will be presented like a dashboard, with seven different criteria adding up to one score.

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