Education

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Beyond Sin City's casino strip, what happens in Vegas also includes an education system in crisis. Its schools are severely overcrowded, as we reported Wednesday on Morning Edition. And Nevada and Vegas' schools are ranked at or near the bottom nationally.

Las Vegas is back, baby. After getting slammed by the Great Recession, the city today is seeing rising home sales, solid job growth and a record number of visitors in 2014.stru

okhous

There are two bills idling in the legislature that would address what many have called excessive testing in Oklahoma’s schools. But the two bills are fundamentally different.

School children in Oklahoma – and across the country—take quite a few tests these days.

Some believe - too many.

It was under this same premise that Representative David Derby wrote House Bill 1622.

"I got pulled in to the principal’s office, quite literally in Owasso, from one of the counselors there at the high school. And she said, Representative Derby, we are testing our kids too much."

Geography, history, civics.

At Manchester Academic Charter School in Pittsburgh, Dennis Henderson teaches all of these, and a few things more.

"You don't want to sound ghetto when you talk to people," says eighth-grader Malajah Smith, quoting Henderson. "Because people would think, 'Oh, you're one of those black, ghetto kids.' "

"He tells us how to stand up straight and how you shake people's hands," adds student Sharae Blair.

Did you hear that?

It's the sound of hundreds of thousands of public school students in Florida breathing sighs of relief.

The state's largest school district, Miami-Dade County, just cut the number of district-created, end-of-course exams it will require from roughly 300 to 10. And even those 10 will be field-tested only, on just a sampling of students.

Last fall, the Office of Civil Rights filed a complaint against Oklahoma City Public Schools, saying the district suspended black and Hispanic students at a higher rate than others. This prompted the district to investigate their discipline practices. The results of that investigation came out Monday. 

Rob Neu, who is the superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, told reporters on Tuesday  that the results of the discipline audit were worse than he expected.

“When I see the number of students suspended and the length of time that they’re being suspended—I have great concern.”

Across New York state this week, some students are refusing to take a test, and they're not getting punished for it. The test is a Common Core-aligned, federally mandated exam, and students, parents and educators are part of what they're calling the opt-out movement.

Opt-outs made news last week in several states: Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, to name a few. The objections are similar everywhere. But no state is posting numbers like New York.

News flash: Members of the U.S. Senate will work across party lines Tuesday for the sake of America's students.

Well, at least for a few more days.

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.

Pages