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

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma has gained 40,000 new students since 2008, but funding from the legislature hasn’t kept up with the growth. More students and less money means some schools are running out of space and have been dipping deep in to their savings accounts. They are making do, but it’s at a tipping point for some districts. Either they get more funding and add more space, or the class sizes get bigger and bigger.

THE NEED FOR MORE SPACE

Weatherford Public Schools in Custer County—Western Oklahoma—is bursting at the seams with kids. Normally, the district gets 20 new students a year, but lately they’ve been topping 100.

“We’ve filled up every closet, nook, and cranny in the district and we’re just at a point where we don’t have anymore space,” said Matt Holder, the Superintendent at Weatherford Public Schools.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

50,000 people were expected to be at the education rally at the capitol on Monday, but nowhere near that many came. However the teachers that were there made their presence known.

About 5,000 people showed up for the education rally at the State Capitol on Monday.

Most were teachers and school administrators who came to tell lawmakers that their shrinking budgets are making it difficult to give kids a quality education, and they need more funding.

Janet Weaver, a teacher at Hartshorne High school, says sometimes her school doesn’t have enough money for even the most basic things.

“I buy pencils for my students, I buy paper for my students… if they don’t have a pencil they can’t do my work,” she said.

http://okcps.belleislems.schooldesk.net/

According to a study out of UCLA, suspension rates at Oklahoma City Public Schools are some of the highest in the nation. Nearly half of the students in the district got suspended there in the 2011-2012 school year, according to this report.

The district Superintendent questions the report’s rankings, but doesn’t deny there is a discipline problem. He says they are already laying down plans to make major changes. 

Between the 7th and 8th grades Caleb Walker got suspended four times. A couple times for fighting and a couple times for being a “silly boy” according to his mom.

okhouse.gov

Funding for Education in Oklahoma has historically been low. But depending on who you ask—the dollar amount that the state spends varies widely. As do our national rankings.

One lawmaker is fed up with the confusion and is pushing a bill through the legislature to nail it down.

If you divide 4.9 billion by 631,000, what do you get?

Oklahoma’s per pupil expenditure. Or, the amount of money the state spent on each kid’s education in 2013.

In short, that’s $7,740 according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

That’s low by national standards. In fact, it puts Oklahoma at 49th out of 50 states according to the US Census Bureau.

A bill pending in the legislature aims to make private school accessible for more Oklahomans, but opponents say the plan robs public education of much needed funding. Reporter Emily Wendler has this story.

Positive Tomorrows is a small, very selective private school in Oklahoma City.

It’s only for homeless children.

The principal, Susan Agel, says her students require extra attention because they experience trauma on a daily basis. It’s extra care, she says, that they’d never get in a larger public school.  

The committee tasked with creating Oklahoma's new academic standards following the repeal of Common Core met for the second time on Monday.

As KOSU's Emily Wendler reports, they are trying to learn as much as they can from other's trials and tribulations before embarking on their own journey.

The academic standards steering committee—in charge of creating Oklahoma's new educational requirements for kindergarten through 12th grade—got guidance from three experts who have excelled in creating math and English programs in their own states.

KOSU welcomed Emily Wendler to the KOSU broadcast team on February 4. Emily is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio with degrees in Geology and Journalism from the University of Cincinnati and a graduate degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism from the University of Montana. She is a radio storyteller who excels in the development of investigative and explanatory pieces and in the analysis of data to tell stories. Emily will be based at the KOSU studios in Oklahoma City and her initial focus will be the future of education in our state.

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