This article was originally delivered to subscribers of our Education Watch newsletter. Sign up now to receive Education Watch directly in your inbox.

Jennifer Wilkinson is frantically trying to save Insight School of Oklahoma, the state’s only online alternative school.

Wilkinson found out last week the state Education Department is pursuing new rules that would require alternative education to be delivered in-person. That would upend Insight’s model, which is entirely virtual.

The proposed rules would require any alternative education program to be in-person, with both students and teachers physically on site.

“It would eliminate our students’ equitability in education and being able to serve them in this model,” said Wilkinson, who has led Insight since 2019.

In a statement accompanying the proposal, the Education Department said the changes would improve the quality of alternative education, align with best practices and comply with changes in law from 2019.

Alternative education serves students who are at-risk of dropping out. Often, they are facing challenges such as mental health issues, substance abuse, pregnancy or parenting. Schools receive additional funding for alternative education.

Insight has about 1,100 students in 6th through 12th grades.

One aspect that sets Insight apart is its scheduling, which gives high school students the ability complete 4 to 6 classes per trimester block, allowing them to catch up on credits.

Insight’s 4-year graduation rate is one of the lowest in the state, at 46% in 2022, according to its state School Report Card. Wilkinson said the rate has improved, and last year they had 220 graduates.

A public hearing on the proposed changes is planned for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the state Education Department. Comments can also be submitted to the department by mail or email (details are on the Department’s website.)

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • Four new Oklahoma City charter schools have applied for authorization. [Oklahoma Voice]
  • In elections across the country Tuesday, the parental rights movement was dealt setbacks, signaling issues like race and gender in school curriculum may be losing steam. [The New York Times]
  • In a new kind of cyberattack, attackers gain access with weak students passwords, then contact parents (and the media) directly. The tactics have cybersecurity experts worried. [The 74]

New on Oklahoma Watch

State Spending $4 Million To Set Up Private School Tax Credit Program

The Oklahoma Tax Commission is spending almost $4 million with a contractor to set up and administer a new private school tax credit program, an amount four times what the agency estimated in the spring when lawmakers were finalizing the policy.

[Read More]

Pandemic Protections Ending for Oklahomans Covered By SoonerCare

About 270,000 low-income Oklahomans are expected to lose their SoonerCare coverage after the federal government ended a pandemic program that stopped states from dropping people from Medicaid during a public health emergency.

[Read More]

Walters Administration Wants to Hire Someone to Get More National Media Exposure

Public records show the Education Department wants to hire a firm to book and manage Superintendent Walters’ national media appearances. Critics say that’s not their job.

[Read More]

Help Us Make a Difference

Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.

Support our publication

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters — stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

This work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it isn’t possible without your support.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.