Public Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Friday it is returning to distance learning for at least two weeks and canceling indoor athletics amid a continued rise in coronavirus cases.

In an email to parents, district officials say they made the decision after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased from 15.8 per 100,000 population last week to 26.2 cases this week.

Our guest is the writer Jeff Hobbs, whose new book closely follows four Los Angeles high school boys as they apply to college. These four teens are seniors at two very different high schools in L.A. -- one in Compton, the other in Beverly Hills -- and by telling their individual, personal stories, Hobbs reveals what our nation's young people (across all socio-economic backgrounds) are now confronting at home, at school, among peers, and throughout society.

Office of Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday named a former classroom teacher and CEO of an education reform group as his new secretary of education. 

Every Kid Counts CEO Ryan Walters will replace Secretary of State Michael Rogers, who stepped down from the education position last month, citing his workload.

Monday the 31st will bring the first day of classes for Tulsa Public Schools, and given the current pandemic, this is certainly going to be a very different school year. All TPS students, for starters, will be participating in either of two distinct programs: Distance Learning or Virtual Academy. How do these differ? And what should TPS parents be expecting -- and/or planning for -- as the new school year begins?

How do we learn? And how do we learn best? What are the most effective ways of educating today? Our guest on ST is Dr. Sanjay Sarma, who's the leader of the Open Learning program at MIT. He joins us to discuss his new book, "Grasp." This pioneering work looks at the science of learning -- i.e., how the acquisition of knowledge works both in the mind and in the classroom. The book also explores which teaching techniques are most effective -- and why -- and how schools should (and should not) use instructional technology, including online teaching apps and programs.

Twitter / @UofOklahoma

A sorority house at Oklahoma State. The Sooners football team. The faculty and staff of Broken Arrow Public Schools.

All have been sites of recent coronavirus outbreak "clusters." As more districts and universities bring students back to school buildings and campuses, epidemiologists and other public health experts are worrying that Oklahoma's trends in new infections, which have been slowly tacking downward in recent days, could change course.

OSU Center for Health Sciences Project ECHO

Oklahoma State Representative John Waldron (D-Tulsa) told a group of medical professionals on Monday that he is troubled by the haphazard and disjointed responses to the state's COVID-19 outbreak among school district leaders.

"What I can tell you from my examination of things is that we're kind of all over the map on school openings," Waldron, a teacher himself and a member of the Oklahoma House Committee on Common Education, said on a COVID-19 videoconference organized by the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences' Project ECHO series.

Facebook / Union Public Schools

A Union Public Schools board of education member is facing scrutiny for an email response to concerned district parents regarding plans for back-to-school during the pandemic.

Adam and Michelle Palmer wrote board member Jeff Bennett an email expressing concerns over an in-person return to learning, which the Tulsa Health Department is recommending against due to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in Tulsa County. 

"Perhaps this is not the time to put a lot of children in the same room/building for several hours a day," the Palmers wrote. 

Facebook / Kingston Public Schools

Just two days into the fall term, a school district in southern Oklahoma has announced it will suspend in-person classes due to a potential COVID-19 exposure. 

"Due to a possible Covid 19 positive exposure in our Child Nutrition Department, the Marshall County Health Department has advised our administration to close our cafeteria," Kingston Public Schools Superintendent Brian Brister wrote in a Friday letter to parents.

Facebook / Broken Arrow High School

In a 5-0 vote, the Broken Arrow Public Schools Board of Education voted on Wednesday to accept the district administration's plan to move forward with a return to in-person learning for the upcoming fall semester beginning Aug. 19th.

Facebook / Oklahoma City Public Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s largest public school district delayed the start of its school year by three weeks and will have online learning only until at least November in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Board of Education for Oklahoma City Public Schools voted late Tuesday to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 10 to Aug. 31. The board also decided to have virtual instruction only for at least the first nine weeks.

Facebook / Crossover Preparatory Academy

Democratic lawmakers in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are pushing back against Gov. Kevin Stitt's announcement that he will award $10 million of federal coronavirus education funding to private schools.

Jenks Public Schools parents have until July 31 to choose in-person, all-virtual or blended instruction for their students for at least the fall semester.

Students in any grade may be enrolled in the in-person or virtual options. The blended learning option is available only to seventh- through 12th-graders and includes daily, in-person attendance.

The district will require masks at school for students in third grade and up, employees, and any visitors. Students in pre-K through second grade will be encouraged to wear masks.

The Union Public Schools Board has approved the district’s re-entry plan for the fall.

Students will either attend entirely in person or entirely online. While younger students will get district curriculum from a Union teacher, students in sixth through 12th grades will receive instruction through a contracted company.

Union Assistant Superintendent Sandi Calvin said it will keep high schoolers on-track for graduation, but there’s an important note for potential college athletes.

Facebook / Union Public Schools

Union Public Schools announced Monday that it will "entertain a proposal" to change its mascot from a derogatory term for Native Americans it shares with Washington's NFL team.

“We have been having conversations internally for quite some time about the possibility of making a change,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler in a statement posted to the school district's Facebook page. “Many, both inside and outside our community, have had conflicting emotions over the years regarding Union’s mascot, and we strongly believe that now is the time to take up this issue once again."

KWGS News File photo

The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Board rejected by one vote on Friday a set of guidelines for summer workouts and practices intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The rejected guidelines laid out a three-phased plan to resume full activities in August, which started with strength and conditioning sessions under safety precautions like temperature checks for most of June. OSSAA Board Member Jason Sternberger said he wanted a plan more in line with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s state reopening.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Oklahoma schools served more than 1.7 million meals to students late last month as schools closed for the rest of the year.

According to numbers from the Oklahoma State Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition, 1,784,608 meals were served at 645 sites across 406 school districts from March 23–31.

The State Board of Education approved on March 25 closing schools for the rest of the academic year to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Later this week, on the morning of October 24th, the Opportunity Project -- a Tulsa nonprofit that (per its website) acts as a "citywide intermediary for expanded learning [and for] connecting youth to the world of opportunity" -- will celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Lights On Afterschool Day. This celebration begins at 8:30am at the Central Center in Centennial Park, near 6th and Peoria, and it will include a presentation regarding "What Tulsa's Youth Need to Thrive" by Karen J. Pittman, co-founder and CEO of The Forum for Youth Investment.

Our guest is William Doyle, a bestselling author and TV producer for networks including HBO, The History Channel, and PBS. Doyle is the co-author of an important new education-focused study, which he tells us about. The book is called "Let the Children Play: How More Play Will Save Our Schools and Help Children Thrive." As was noted of this work by Michael Rich, an associate professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School: "Sahlberg and Doyle whack us in the head with the reality that 21st-century skills require old-fashioned learning as children.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, with Election Day one week away, we begin a series of interviews with the major candidates currently running for governor. Our guest today is Drew Edmondson, the Democratic candidate, who previously served as Oklahoma's Attorney General for 16 years. As noted at the Edmondson campaign website: "Upon graduation from college, Drew enlisted in the United States Navy, where he reached the rank of Petty Officer Second Class and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

The Early Childhood Education Institute (or ECEI) at OU-Tulsa last month received a $2.7 million grant from NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to extend its work with researchers from Georgetown University.

Our guest is Sarah Mondale, director of the newly released and engrossing documentary, "Backpack Full of Cash." As is noted of this film at its website: "Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America's most vulnerable children.

On this edition of ST, we learn about the City of Tulsa's in-depth and multifaceted efforts to address issues of resilience, equity, and racial disparity across various demographic and geographic sections of our community. Our guest is DeVon Douglass, who was recently appointed by Mayor G.T. Bynum as Tulsa's Chief Resilience Officer. Before this appointment, Douglass served as the Economic Opportunity and Poverty Policy Analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

On this edition of ST, a conversation with Jaime Casap, the so-called "Education Evangelist" at Google. Casap will be the keynote speaker at the Tulsa Regional Chamber's annual State of Education gathering, happening tomorrow (Wednesday the 6th) at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center on South 107th East Avenue.

(Note: This show first aired back in February.) On this edition of our show, a discussion with Sue Klebold, whose 17-year-old son, Dylan, was of course one of the two teenage boys who committed suicide ­after their murderous attack on Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999. Klebold has a new book out about this incident -- and more to the point, about the behaviors that she did and did not see in her son in the months and years leading up to that terrible April day.

(Note: This program originally aired in April.) On this edition of ST, we speak with Daniel Connolly, a reporter who has, for more than a decade, covered Mexican immigration into the Southern U.S. for The Associated Press in Little Rock, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, and other outlets.

On this edition of ST, we're talking about the nonprofit collective known as ImpactTulsa, which began in 2014, and which (per its website) aims to "improve education for every child. Our partnership includes [several dozens of] leaders from education, business, philanthropic, nonprofit, civic, and faith communities who all believe education is the key to the prosperity of our community." Our guest is Kathy Seibold, the executive director of ImpactTulsa, who tells us about her organzation's recently released Community Impact Report for 2016.

On this edition of our show, a discussion with Sue Klebold, whose 17-year-old son, Dylan, was of course one of the two teenage boys who committed suicide ­after their murderous attack on Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999. Klebold has a new book out about this incident -- and more to the point, about the behaviors that she did and did not see in her son in the months and years leading up to that terrible April day.

ImpactTulsa is a newly formed, entirely pro-education initiative that brings together locally based community leaders from the varied realms of education, business, civics, nonprofits, philanthropy, and the faith community -- all of which are united, as per the ImpactTulsa website, "to engage the community to provide a pathway where all students are guaranteed a high-quality education." Our guests today on ST are Kathy Taylor, the CEO of ImpactTulsa and a former mayor of this city, and Dr.