Virtual charter schools will have to start tracking student attendance in accordance with a new law signed Friday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The proposal arose after Oklahoma Watch revealed last year that all five of Oklahoma’s virtual charter schools reported between 98 and 100 percent attendance last year. Two reported 100 percent.
When school’s out, in summer or afternoon, many parents face a struggle. Research shows that children without access to summer and after-school learning programs can suffer academically, but finding good, affordable ones is an arduous task. Oklahoma provides no state funding, and a federal program could be eliminated.
In some Oklahoma schools, children whose school meal accounts aren’t paid in full sometimes face embarrassment in the cafeteria line. The schools take away their trays and give them a cold sandwich instead. Others put a stamp on the student’s hand that reads “lunch money.” The practices have triggered a backlash.
A special fund to defray the cost of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister’s legal defense reported its initial donors Sunday. Four supporters donated a total of just over $75,000 to help Hofmeister fight charges of accepting illegal campaign contributions.
Nearly three-fourths of principals at Oklahoma schools have been in their positions for five years or less. The average stay for principals at high-poverty, high-minority schools is four years. The turnover can disrupt schools’ ability to retain teachers and advance student achievement.
Two days after voting to pursue hiring a public relations firm to market the online schools sponsored by the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, the agency director says the project may be scrapped.
A Senate bill intended to protect teachers would mandate lengthy suspensions for elementary students as young as third grade. Opponents say schools instead should use alternative controls and provide services.
A divided state Board of Education agreed by a 5-2 vote to sponsor a language immersion charter school in Norman, despite concerns raised by the state superintendent on the school’s likelihood to be successful.
Since 2013, Oklahoma taxpayers have been allowed to take a state income-tax credit in exchange for donations made to private schools. Now a legislator and others are wondering: Why not offer tax credits for donations to public schools?