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

ok.gov/sde/superintendent

Education reporter Emily Wendler spoke with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, about some of the more pressing issues in Oklahoma education.

At the top of the list was the teacher shortage, the new academic standards, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in Washington. 

The ESEA was last reauthorized in 2002 by then President George W. Bush, who renamed it the No Child Left Behind Act. This law was meant to make sure low-income students got the same education as everyone else. It implemented mandatory testing and rated schools and teachers based on those testing results. This has been a contentious issue for many educators across the nation—including Superintendent Hofmeister.  

Emily Wendler / KOSU

In the midst of budget cuts for education, and extracurriculars being shoved aside, some people in Oklahoma are going to great lengths to ensure exposure to the arts doesn’t disappear for students. 

In the back of an art studio in Oklahoma City, 10-year-old Magdalena Escobedo is painting a picture of a place she'd like to take her Mom one day.

"I’ve got a pond, well it's more like a lake. And then I have a campfire with rocks around it right here and then I have a tent," she said. "And I have a lot of evergreen trees."

She's participating in a free, two week pilot program that brings art classes to young girls in the inner city. Escobedo says she's learned about tinting and shading, watercolors,  and adding texture to her art.  

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The Oklahoma State Department of Education held a town hall meeting Tuesday night—and invited the public to comment on the newly proposed state academic standards.

The new academic framework has been crafted to replace the Common Core standards that Gov. Mary Fallin repealed last year. Educators gave short presentations—then opened the floor up for questions and comments.

After months of development, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has released drafts of new proposed education standards

Flickr/Alvin Trusty

For a lot of schools, the road ahead is a bumpy one. District superintendents are juggling flat budgets with increasing costs. Getting teachers to work for the meager starting salary is also a struggle. So, how are they making it work? 

What if your kids went to school four days a week- instead of five?

A couple Oklahoma school districts are switching to the shortened schedule next year in an attempt to recruit teachers, because they’re struggling to do so otherwise.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Seeing a homeless person in Oklahoma City is not that rare. But seeing a homeless child, on the other hand, is quite uncommon.

But did you know that there are 25,000 homeless children in Oklahoma?

We at KOSU didn’t either. We looked into it and found that the number of homeless kids has grown fairly rapidly over the past few years.

However, two brothers are trying to find a way to help these struggling youth.

For many people, when they think of homelessness, they think of a gritty life on the streets. Sleeping on cardboard boxes, under bridges, and digging through trash cans.

While this is the reality for some homeless youth, recent data released by the State Department of Education shows most homeless kids are doubled up with other families or are couch surfing by the grace of their friends.

okcps.org

The Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, Rob Neu, revealed a 15-year plan for improving the district at last night’s board meeting.

Neu said the plan, called The Great Commitment, is the conclusion of eight months of collaboration among parents, teachers, and other community stakeholders.

"1,200 people met. And the impetus of the work was to tell us what’s most important to our children that we serve in Oklahoma City," Neu said.

Governor Mary Fallin signed a slew of education bills on Wednesday, aiming to improve education in the state. Here’s a run-down of four of them.

SENATE BILL 630

Probably the most talked about piece of legislation was Senate Bill 630. This bill deals with the Reading Sufficiency Act and the third grade reading test that students must pass before they can move on to the fourth grade.

Under the RSA, third graders that do poorly on the test can be automatically held back if they don’t meet an exemption.

Oklahoma State Department of Education

A recent study conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Education found that teacher quality varies by school district. But, it's something the department is working to change.

According to the research, schools with a high poverty, high minority student population are more likely to have inexperienced and less qualified teachers.

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