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

Emily Wendler / KOSU

In Guymon, Oklahoma—way out on the panhandle—a major influx of immigrants has caused the school district to build a new school. It’s essentially an elementary school for teenagers, because many of these newcomers aren’t even fluent in their own native language.

For years, Guymon, Oklahoma has been a hub for Mexican immigrants. There’s a pork processing plant in town, and the immigrants could find work there. This influx overflowed in to the schools, which are currently about 70 percent Hispanic.

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr

The “nation’s report card,” released Tuesday, shows that Oklahoma students are making gains in reading, but are struggling in math.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, compares state by state data in various subjects, and releases the report card every two years.

Here is a summary of Oklahoma’s rankings, split up in to fourth and eighth grade reading and math:

READING

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The state superintendent is calling Oklahoma’s school accountability system deeply flawed, and a waste of a million dollars. Three years ago, when it went into effect, proponents hoped it would motivate schools to improve. But instead it’s just been a contentious issue. 

By law, schools in Oklahoma are given a grade- A through F- based on student test scores, and other data. But according to state superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, these grades are no good.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

University of Oklahoma President, David Boren, and his education advocacy group filed a petition with the Secretary of State Monday, that will ask voters to support a one-cent sales tax increase to fund education.

“Are our kids worth a penny?” Boren asked his listeners at the state capitol.

Various estimates say the tax could cost an Oklahoma family anywhere from $75 to $250 a year.

U.S. Department of Education

Is the state’s third grade reading test taking attention away from other subjects? Test data suggests it could be. When legislators amended the Reading Sufficiency Act in 2011—they made the test a high stakes test. As a result, many teachers overly emphasize reading in the younger grades because they’re scared their students will fail, and get held back. 

When lawmakers amended the Reading Sufficiency Act, they wanted to ensure that all kids could read on grade level by the third grade. They said this is when kids switch from learning to read, to reading to learn.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Jarred Geller uses punk rock to teach his preschoolers about shapes and geography.

“If I play ‘Wheels on the Bus’ it’s hard for them to get invested in that,” he said.

But with catchy, poppy hooks, and fist-pumping riffs, the 5-year-olds are all in.

Geller started his "Punk Rock Preschool" at Eugene Field Elementary in Oklahoma City last January. He knew that fun and play were essential to young students, so he wrote some songs to incorporate rocking out into his lesson plans.

twitter.com/president_boren

OU President David Boren wants Oklahomans to vote on a $0.01 percent sales tax increase—that would be used to fund education.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Students who get suspended in the Oklahoma City Public School district will now have an option: take the suspension and go home or go through a 10-day remedial program.

In the program, teachers will help the kids keep up with their work, as they go through character development classes and counseling.

“And so, instead of just sending them home, to sit at home, let’s keep ‘em in school, keep up with their academics, and then also teach ‘em some skills that they need to learn,” said Dr. Teri Bell, the district’s executive director of student support services.

Flickr / Brian Cantoni

According to data recently released by the ACT, or American College Test, only 22 percent of Oklahoma students were ready for college courses in math, English, social science and biology when they graduated from high school.  Nationally, 28 percent of students met the benchmark scores in all four subjects.

Oklahoma students have maintained an average score of 20.7 on the test for the past five years. Nationwide, scores have gone down slightly since 2011. The national average for 2015 was 21.0

Students with physical and mental disabilities are much more likely to be disciplined than other students in the state, according to Oklahoma Watch’s Nate Robson.

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