In The Know: Education budget request seeks to reduce class sizes; Oklahoma Adult Promise scholarships; OKC has high rate of water shut-offs…

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.

In The News

Hofmeister’s new education budget request seeks to reduce class sizes, invest in more school counselors: The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Thursday green-lighted a request for FY 2020 funding that includes $253 million largely aimed at reducing class sizes across the state. Another $58 million in the state Education Department’s budget request to the Oklahoma Legislature would add more school counselors to support students with college and career planning, as well as personal hardships. [Tulsa World] Earlier this week we wrote about why restoring Oklahoma’s class size standards is important to improve education.

New adult degree completion program targets Oklahoma’s critical occupations: The state has awarded Oklahoma’s Promise tuition scholarships to new high school graduates for 26 years. Now, higher education officials are making a promise to help adults who left college early to finish what they started. The Oklahoma Adult Promise program is being funded with a $777,000 three-year grant from Lumina Foundation to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. [NewsOK]

Water Shut-Offs: New report shows OKC has one of the highest rates: A nonprofit says it has conducted a first-of-its-kind survey that shows more than a half-a-million American households lost water service two years ago because they couldn’t pay. The report released Wednesday by the Washington-based advocacy group Food & Water Watch says more than 1.4 million people living in those homes at least temporarily lost water service for nonpayment in 2016. [AP News] You can read the full report from Food & Water Watch here.

NRA ad attacks Edmondson: A political arm of the National Rifle Association is spending $544,000 on broadcast time to attack Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson. The ad cites a story from on Feb. 21. That story came from an interview by The Oklahoman with Edmondson a week after 17 people were killed at a Florida high school. In it, Edmondson said the state requirements for getting a permit to carry a handgun should apply to purchasing some semi-automatic rifles. [NewsOK] While his opponent has attempted to paint him as a career politician, Drew Edmondson toured southeast Oklahoma on Thursday championing his experience in government as a necessary qualification for the state’s next governor. [NewsOK]

District 2 scrap between candidates over education tops area state Senate races: On paper, state Senate District 2 doesn’t look very competitive. On the ground, it’s being contested quite bitterly. The district includes a large share of Rogers County, including Claremore, Catoosa and eastern Owasso, and a slice of Mayes County that stretches east past Pryor. Republicans outnumber Democrats almost 2-to-1, and Republican incumbent Marty Quinn won the seat unopposed in 2014 after two terms in the House of Representatives. [Tulsa World]

Quick 5: Education tops lists of Senate candidates’ concerns: One in a series featuring candidates who are competing during the 2018 election cycle. This article focuses on two candidates for Oklahoma Senate District 18 — Democratic challenger Charles Arnall and the incumbent, Republican Kim David. The general election will be Nov. 6. [Enid News & Eagle]

District 35 candidates both say education is key, diverge slightly on how to fund it: If one was looking for it, no great partisan divide could have been found during Thursday’s forum for Oklahoma House of Representatives District 35 candidates at the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. [Stillwater News-Press]

Oklahoma agency expands screening program to steer defendants away from prison time: It’s impossible to predict who will commit a crime in the future, but clinicians at a program funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services think it’s possible to make an educated guess at who’s a higher risk. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Hearing offers perspectives on agency accountability: Oklahoma lawmakers could create another accountability agency, and on Thursday some of them got a better grasp of how it would look. State officials have long called for more agency oversight, but after the state Health Department’s financial mismanagement saga unfurled over the past year, those calls have gotten louder. [Journal Record ????]

Health Department appoints first chief medical officer: A long-time employee of the Oklahoma State Department of Health has risen to a new executive position created in the aftermath of last year’s financial mess. Dr. Edd Rhoades, who has worked for the Health Department for about 40 years, will be its new chief medical officer. He currently is medical director for the family health services division. [NewsOK]

State: Ex-hospital workers can file for unemployment benefits: One hundred and thirty former Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center hospital employees have lost health insurance coverage, several of whom need cancer treatments and surgeries. But some said they feared they wouldn’t be able to file for unemployment benefits because the former management company didn’t pay its taxes. A state employment agency’s director tried to allay that fear and dispel the rumor. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma town struggles with lowest life expectancy in nation: On the heels of a shocking announcement, people in the Cherokee Nation are about to get a big dose of good news. A historic partnership between the Cherokees and Oklahoma State University could reverse a devastating trend that is cutting lives short in the Cherokee Nation. Perched on the eastern edge of Oklahoma, Stilwell was the end of the line for the trail of tears.Born at the crossroads of history, this Adair County town of 4,000 has never quite transcended that sad legacy. [NewsOn6]

Eastern Oklahoma accounts for two-thirds of state’s flu-related hospitalizations so far this season: About two-thirds of people hospitalized so far this season for the flu were patients in eastern and northeastern Oklahoma. There have been 32 influenza-associated hospitalizations in Oklahoma since Sept. 1, according to information released Thursday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Tulsa World]

OSDH, CDC Investigating After Salmonella Outbreak Reaches Oklahoma: The Oklahoma State Department of Health says that as of October 23, 120 cases of salmonella, in 22 states, have been linked to contaminated beef. Four of those cases have been reported in Oklahoma. The nationwide outbreak of salmonella is associated with raw beef products, including ground beef packaged at Arizona’s JBS Tolleson, Inc. [News On 6]

Oklahoma Dept. of Education awarded federal grants to increase school safety: The Oklahoma State Department of Education says they have been awarded grants that will go towards increasing school safety in the state. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced Wednesday that her agency has been awarded two federal grants that will bring over $4 million to increase safety and security at state schools. [FOX25]

School agrees to let Cherokee students wear eagle feathers to graduation: A northeastern Oklahoma school district has reversed its graduation dress code policy to allow Cherokee students to wear eagle feathers at the ceremonies, after the state suggested a ban restricts religious freedom. Federal law restricts the possession of eagle feathers but allows tribal members to use them for religious or spiritual purposes. [AP News]

Teachers face tough decision when deciding to run for office: With an increase in educators running for seats in the Legislature this November, many of those teachers are faced with a tough decision. A line in the State Constitution makes it harder for them to head back to the classroom after serving their term in office. The verbiage in question is found in Article 5, Section 23. The constitution talks about it being illegal to be employed by the state while in office or “double dipping,” but it also talks about not being able to work for the state for two years after getting out of office. [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“This is really a historic moment not just for OSU and the Cherokee Nation but for the United States… I think of the medical school as the stone being thrown in the water; the ripples just aren’t going to stop for a long time.”

-Dr. Kayse Shrum, speaking about a partnership between Oklahoma State University and the Cherokee Nation to open a new medical school with 200 doctors in training in Tahlequah [NewsOn6]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking out of all 50 states in the 2016 Cost of Voting Index, which measures how easy it is to vote.

[Washington Post]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States discover news ways to finance Medicaid expansion: Rather than being a cash drain, many health policy researchers and economists note, expansion has generally boosted state economies, with higher employment, reduced state spending on health care services for the uninsured and consumer spending elsewhere that would have gone to health care. [ABC News]

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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.

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