In The Know: Education funding debate still contentious; Most doctors won’t sign medical marijuana recommendations; Guide to 2018 state questions

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.

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In The News

Education funding remains a contentious debate: Oklahoma’s overall education funding has been front and center in state politics, but discussions regarding how to distribute that funding have been brewing beneath the surface. It is impossible to ignore how hotly debated education funding has become in the state, considering the massive two-week teacher walkout and the fact that it is a premier topic at candidate debates. The mechanism the state uses to distribute the money once it is collected hasn’t been in the spotlight, but that’s not to say officials and candidates aren’t working on it. [Journal Record] SQ 801 would give more flexibility, but no new funds for education [OK Policy]

Fewer teachers coming out of Oklahoma schools: Oklahoma universities graduated 1,275 teacher certification holders in 2018, about a 19 percent decline from 2014, according to the same survey. A similar trend can be found in many other states, but Oklahoma’s shrinking number of traditionally trained teachers comes at the same time the state’s use of emergency certified teachers is on the rise, which reached 1,975 last school year, setting a new state record. [The Oklahoman]

Some Students Fare Poorly after Oklahoma Teacher Walkout: Students statewide and in Oklahoma’s largest district fared poorly on state tests taken this spring following a two-week walkout by teachers. The Oklahoman reports statewide, student proficiency rates dropped among third-graders and seventh-graders from 2017 in English/language arts, and among sixth-graders in math. [AP] OKCPS Superintendent Says District Grades Report “Unacceptable” [News 9]

Teachers’ wage penalty is at a record high: Educators may not go into teaching expecting to get rich, but it’s a job that historically has supported a middle-class lifestyle. That may be harder to achieve today, thanks to years of eroding pay for teachers, according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Teachers now earn 11.1 percent less than comparable professionals, representing a record pay gap between educators and other college-educated workers, according to the study. [CBS News] Oklahoma teachers’ real take home pay has shrunk for 10 out of the past 11 years [OK Policy]

OKVotes: Your guide to the 2018 State Questions: Today Oklahoma Policy Institute published a series of fact sheets on each of the state questions on Oklahoma ballots this year.Each fact sheet includes a brief summary of the state question, background information, what supporters and opponents are saying, the full ballot language, and links to other resources, such as media coverage and the websites of campaigns for and against the state question. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma voters soon will be able to make online changes to registration: Registered Oklahoma voters will be able to make changes to their address and party affiliation online starting Monday if they remain in the same county. Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said the option is part of efforts to modernize the state’s voting process. [Tulsa World]

Most doctors won’t sign medical marijuana recommendations. Here’s why, plus a list of those who will: Would-be patients in the Tulsa area have few options for providers able and willing to sign medical marijuana recommendations, and that may be due to major health care systems telling their doctors not to talk to patients about cannabis treatment options. [Tulsa World] The future of medical marijuana in Oklahoma [OK Policy]

Oklahoma City police chief proposes reduction in penalties for marijuana possession: The price you pay for being caught with a pocketful of marijuana could be going down. The Oklahoma City Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 11 on Police Chief Bill Citty’s proposal to relax penalties for marijuana possession. Citty’s “cite-and-release” proposal is part of a broader criminal justice-reform effort to reduce the number of arrests made for nonviolent offenses. [The Oklahoman ????] SQ 780 is already reshaping Oklahoma’s justice system [OK Policy]

New art installation brings attention to Oklahoma education crisis: A new, large-scale art installation is putting a face to the education crisis plaguing Oklahoma. It’s called ‘Faces of the 47th’ and refers to Oklahoma’s ranking as 47th in the nation when it comes to education. [KTUL]

School leaders have big doubts about state question for education funding: Oklahomans will be voting on five state questions during the Nov. 6 general election, including SQ 801, which if passed would allow local school districts to spend their building funds on operational expenses like teacher salaries. Currently, money in district building funds – which comes from property taxes – are used for maintenance and construction. [CNHI] SQ 801 Fact Sheet [OK Policy]

A Texas Lawsuit Being Heard This Week Could Mean Life Or Death For The ACA: Wednesday is looking like yet another pivotal day in the life-or-death saga that has marked the history of the Affordable Care Act. Even if the judge doesn’t find the entire law unconstitutional, the provision of the law requiring insurers to cover patients with preexisting conditions is at stake. Here are five questions and answers to help understand the case, Texas v. U.S. [Kaiser Health News] What Oklahomans Stand to Lose if the Affordable Care Act is Dismantled [OK Policy]

FCC auction expands rural broadband service to 71,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses: The Federal Communications Commission says nearly 71,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses will gain access to high-speed Internet service for the first time following the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction. [OK Energy Today]

DHS, expert panel at crossroads in relationship: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the panel of three experts overseeing its reforms are at odds. This critical crossroads in the relationship could have an affect on safety of vulnerable children in foster care. The latest bi-annual progress report from the panel, released Wednesday, took a different tone than those in the past. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Prohibition State: Why Is Medical Marijuana Still Banned on College Campuses?: Medical marijuana might be legal in more than half the states, but that doesn’t mean it’s fine to use it on most college campuses. The reason? Marijuana still remains illegal at the federal level and schools are concerned it might put them in jeopardy with the law. [Houston Chronicle]

Quote of the Day

“[Ending the ACA] would wreak havoc in our health care system. And we don’t believe Americans are ready to see that their children are no longer able to see a doctor or that they cannot get treated for a preexisting health condition.”

– Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, on the consequences of Texas’ lawsuit seeking to have the entire Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional (Source)

Number of the Day


The number of medical marijuana patient license applications received during the first week of enrollment with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

Source: Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In Arkansas, ‘Digital Redlining’ Could Leave Thousands Without Health Care: In June, Arkansas began rolling out a controversial change to its Medicaid program. Under a new state plan, all recipients who are able to work will have to log 80 working hours each month, or risk losing access to their health care. But finding a job might not be the biggest hurdle for many people. In order to stay eligible for Medicaid, Arkansas’s recipients must report their working hours each month, and it must be done online—the state doesn’t offer a way to do it via mail, telephone, or in person. [City Lab]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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