Education Funding

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

A new report from the Oklahoma State Department of Education shows 30,000 teachers have left the profession over the past six years.

The report seeks to explain what’s driving the state’s persistent teacher shortage while offering the agency’s recommendations on how to stem it.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Wanette School District is nestled in a rural stretch of Oklahoma about 30 miles southeast of Norman.

For a long time, high school juniors and seniors had a dedicated art teacher who taught class five days a week. They would paint, sketch and learn ceramics. That all changed five years ago after budget cuts forced district officials to eliminate the class.

Now, instead of creating art every day, high school students have the option of learning about its history online. Very few do.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Twenty-nineteen means a new governor for Oklahoma and a fresh class of state legislators — nearly 40 percent of whom have zero political experience. It’s a new year, but the state government’s slate hasn’t been wiped clean.

Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest policy issues on deck for the upcoming year and legislative session.

Energy & Environment

Hello! We know there's a lot of news out there, but we're bringing you an education-centric take on the midterms, with big results in some key states.

Arizona

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

It’s about 9 p.m. in Coweta, a rural town south east of Tulsa.

The election results are still trickling in as Cyndi Ralston, a second-grade teacher -turned Democratic political candidate, steps on to the stage in the small event space where she’s having her watch party.

Framed by red, white and blue balloons, Ralston tells the crowd of about 30 supporters why she decided to run for the House District 12 seat.

“I ran this year so that no teacher would have to walkout again,” she said. “I ran this year so that no family would have to lose their insurance again.”

In an election that's largely not about education — polls and NPR's reporting says immigration and healthcare are two top issues — we wanted to focus on the places where education is influencing and mobilizing voters.

Here are our nine takeaways of what to watch:

1. Teachers are flexing their (political) muscles

With just days to go, both of the major teachers' unions have devoted their considerable resources to the election.

Oklahoma voters face five state questions when they vote this month. While this election’s state questions are not as high profile as recent ballot proposals on medical marijuana and alcohol law changes, they do present some meaningful changes in specific areas.

Video Breakdown: State Question 801

Nov 1, 2018

Our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged is not solely focused on informative and in-depth radio stories. We also want to strip away all extraneous information and get down to the bare bones of state questions. And to do that, we again commissioned videos from Blake Behrens of Radfive Creative.

You're reading NPR's weekly roundup of education news.

Education is a top issue in the midterms

From the 36 gubernatorial races to some key state congressional races, education will be a major issue on Election Day. We've reported previously on a record number of educators who are themselves running. There were teacher walkouts in six states this year. That issue alone has gotten people mobilized.

There's something else that's bringing education to the midterms: Betsy DeVos, the polarizing education secretary.

Oklahoma State Department of Education

The State Department of Education is asking lawmakers to increase education funding by a total of $440 million next year.

Included in the agency’s budget proposal for the 2019-2020 public school year is a request for an additional $273 million to help school districts hire more teachers and reduce class sizes.

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