In The Know: 18 counties seen at high risk in state opioid crisis, Governor requests state audit of Epic Charter Schools, State classrooms see more nontraditional teachers

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Oklahoma Policy Institute to host scholarship fundraiser discussing Ardmore history: The Oklahoma Policy Institute is inviting everyone downtown Monday evening to learn a bit more about the history of Ardmore with Ardmoreite managing editor Robby Short and City Commissioner Martin Dyer, among others, while raising money for a good cause. [The Daily Ardmoreite]

In The News

18 counties seen at high risk in state opioid crisis: Eighteen Oklahoma counties are poorly positioned to overcome the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis, according to a national study published late last month by three University of Michigan researchers. From January 2015 through December 2017, researchers looked at opioid overdose mortality rates and public access to three types of medicine used to treat opioid use disorder in more than 3,000 counties nationwide. [The Oklahoman]

Governor requests state audit of Epic Charter Schools; school’s sponsor already in touch with state auditor: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday requested an investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools and its related entities by State Auditor Cindy Byrd. The Tulsa World has also obtained public records that indicate one of Epic’s own charter school authorizers has been in touch with the State Auditor’s Office for months about a possible audit. [Tulsa World] Has oversight of Epic Schools been lax? [Oklahoma WatchSeveral bills considered last session sought to increase regulation of virtual charter schools.

Opinions harden amid Epic investigation: Over the past several years the Epic Charter Schools system has become one of the most disruptive forces in Oklahoma education, quickly growing into the state’s largest virtual school that critics say operates in the shadows of the law, while supporters see an alternative education model bringing necessary change to the status quo. [The Oklahoman]

House will study virtual charter schools: Days after state investigators alleged the state’s largest virtual charter school is using fraudulent enrollment numbers, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, approved study requests to research virtual learning and state funding formulas for virtual charters. On Friday, McCall’s office announced a list of 90 interim study requests that had been approved. [The Oklahoman]

State classrooms see more nontraditional teachers: Working with children has long been Jordan Garner’s passion. After graduating from an Okla­homa college with a psychology degree, the 27-year-old took a job in mental health working with children. Then she decided to try her hand at substitute teaching in Texas. [Norman Transcript]

LOFT oversight committee to hold first meeting July 30: The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) oversight committee will meet for the first time in late July at the Oklahoma Capitol. LOFT is legislative office created this year in a bill by House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat. [City-Sentinel]

Input sought for statewide child abuse prevention plan: Oklahoma State Department of Health is again seeking input from private and public agencies, organizations, private citizens and consumers to monitor and enhance development of a statewide comprehensive child abuse prevention plan. [Woodward NewsIn recent years, Oklahoma has relied heavily on the foster care system to prevent abuse and neglect.

Hilliard appointed to Commission for Rehabilitation Services: Wes Hilliard has been appointed to the Oklahoma Commission for Rehabilitation Services by Speaker of the House Charles McCall. The commission is the governing board for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. [Journal Record ????]

State liquor law changes creates $13 million in record revenue for regulatory agency: The state agency that regulates alcohol has seen a historic spike in revenue on the strength of liquor law changes that’s pumped millions into its coffers. “It is a combination of two things,” Keith Burt, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission said. “We have a lot of new licenses and we have a lot more of them.” [Tulsa World]

State of Change: Legislators continue to alter state’s alcohol landscape: In October, State Question 792 changed the landscape of Oklahoma liquor laws.  This past spring, state lawmakers revised some of those rules and added new ones through a series of bills, including Senate Bill 608, Senate Bill 804 and House Bill 2325. [Norman Trancsript]

Norman councilwoman to challenge state Sen. Rob Standridge: The youngest Norman City councilperson in the city’s history plans to seek a state Senate seat next year. Councilwoman Alex Scott said her frustration with the Legislature taking away decision-making authority from Oklahoma localities motivated her to seek higher elected office. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal gaming 101: What you need to know as tribal gaming becomes a topic of significant debate in the coming months: Earlier this month, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he wanted to renegotiate the state’s tribal gaming compacts. The governor said he believed that the original rate of 4% to 6% of tribal revenues going to the state was fair at the time to incentivize the gaming industry, but it was time to take another look at the issue. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa World Editorial Board: There is a solution to the sad state of health our state is in: Oklahoma’s health outcomes are No. 47 in the nation and getting worse, according to America’s Health Rankings. We’re No. 45 in cancer deaths, No. 48 in cardiovascular deaths, No. 43 in diabetes, No. 43 in infant mortality and No. 44 in premature death. [Editorial Board / Tulsa WorldThe Legislature considered expanding health coverage to more than 100,000 Oklahomans currently without health insurance last session, but was unable to settle on a plan. 

‘Basically, we’re being extorted for our lives’ Soaring insulin prices a life-or-death issue for some: Tulsan Megan Quickle was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just short of her third birthday. Back then, a little over 30 years ago, the cost of the live-saving insulin she needed was pretty manageable. Now her insulin costs $385 a vial — quadruple, she said, from 12 years ago — and while recently acquired health insurance helps, Quickle said she’s been in the same predicament as many uninsured and under-insured diabetics. [Tulsa World]

A ‘fundamental miscarriage of justice’: Man set free after 28 years in prison for crime he didn’t commit now adjusts to life outside: Corey Atchison’s first night of freedom in nearly 30 years ended with a two-hour nap at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. He got about three hours of sleep the next night, following that up with about four hours on Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Officers’ interactions with Town Square residents illustrates differences in perceptions about policing: On a steamy summer evening at the Town Square Apartments, a group of children take turns tossing around a football on a patch of grass between residential buildings. Not too far away, a group of adults share a few laughs in the parking lot. [Tulsa World]

Protesters march on Fort Sill to oppose federal immigration policies: For a few hours on Saturday, Fort Sill was thrust into the throes of a heated national debate on immigration as protesters marched to an entrance to the military post. Hundreds of protesters, who were opposed to housing migrant children at Fort Sill, blocked one of the post’s entrances for more than an hour in a show of force against current federal immigration policies. [The Oklahoman] Detention of migrant children at Fort Sill set for August [The Frontier]

Sen. Lankford visits U.S.-Mexico border: Oklahoma Senator James Lankford paid a visit this weekend to the border between the United States and Mexico. On Sunday, Lankford says his first stop was at the Port of Entry in McAllen, Texas. Lankford also reportedly visited a Health and Human Services facility for unaccompanied minors.  [FOX25]

Quote of the Day

“We disincentivized going into teaching as a profession, by all the cuts and not treating educators as professionals for so long. It’s going to take time to reverse that trend. It’s going to take years of investment to make up the deficit that there was in that pipeline.”

– Alicia Priest, President of the Oklahoma Education Association, on the shortage of certified teachers in Oklahoma [Norman Transcript]

Number of the Day


The number of jobs that Oklahoma tribes supported in the state in 2017, representing $4.6 billion in wages and benefits to Oklahoma workers.

[Source: Oklahoma Native Impact]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Major study suggests Medicaid work requirements are hurting people without really helping anybody: The first major study on the nation’s first Medicaid work requirements finds that people fell off of the Medicaid rolls but didn’t seem to find more work. Since Arkansas implemented the nation’s first Medicaid work requirements last year, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found, Medicaid enrollment has fallen for working-age adults, the uninsured rate has been rising, and there has been little discernible effect on employment. [Vox]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

One thought on “In The Know: 18 counties seen at high risk in state opioid crisis, Governor requests state audit of Epic Charter Schools, State classrooms see more nontraditional teachers

  1. “We disincentivized going into teaching as a profession, by all the cuts and not treating educators as professionals for so long. It’s going to take time to reverse that trend. It’s going to take years of investment to make up the deficit that there was in that pipeline.” ~ – Alicia Priest, President of the Oklahoma Education Association, on the shortage of certified teachers in Oklahoma.

    I always read of the Alicia Priests of the “professional” teaching world bloviating about how poorly public educators are funded and the like. What I don’t hear the Alicia Priest types ever commenting on or even asked by Oklahoma’s feckless media is why currently approximately 2/3 of America’s publicly educated 8th graders are both functionally illiterate and innumerate.

    Perhaps Alicia is not nearly as professional and proficient as she would like to think in teaching students?

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