In The Know: Epic Charter Schools’ expansion into Texas in limbo, Unemployment rates improve over last year, Oklahoma ‘making progress’ on policies to help battle cancer

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

Epic Charter Schools’ expansion into Texas in limbo amid new revelations about criminal investigation: Epic Charter Schools’ expansion into Texas has been halted just a few weeks before the start of the new school year. On June 5, Epic publicly announced it had a deal with iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas, or iSVA, a public charter school, to offer students there in grades 3-12 its blended learning model, which combines online and in-person instruction. iSchool Virtual Academy’s governing board approved the contract with Epic on June 14. [Tulsa World]

Unemployment rates improve over last year: Most Oklahoma counties and the state’s largest metro areas showed improvement in June unemployment rates compared to last year, despite a statewide worsening since May. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission released a report Thursday showing the June 2019 unemployment rates for all 77 Oklahoma counties ranged from a low of 1.9% in Alfalfa county up to a high of 6.2% in Latimer and McIntosh counties. [The Oklahoman] Unemployment is only one indicator of economic recovery, and focusing only on that can give a distorted picture of how we’re doing. See the first paper in our State of Work in Oklahoma series for more information about our economic health.

Report: Oklahoma ‘making progress’ on policies to help battle cancer: Oklahoma is one of 29 states and D.C. making progress on instituting cancer-fighting policies, according to a new report. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network “How Do You Measure Up?” report says Oklahoma meets four of eight policy benchmarks for fighting cancer. [Public Radio Tulsa] Expanding access to health coverage would mean fewer cancer deaths in Oklahoma.

Regulating Buds: Local dispensaries say new rules won’t impact business: After Oklahomans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2018, there was much talk about what changes to the new law would be made, as many voters and lawmakers have asserted that State Question 788 was too broad. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Arnold Hamilton: Issues around which rural, urban Oklahoma can unite: Two worlds, one state. It isn’t a slogan that would be a candidate for Oklahoma’s rebranding efforts, but it is a fair depiction of Sooner life as the 21st century’s second decade comes to a close. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Court upholds sentence for ex-cop convicted of rape: An Oklahoma court on Thursday upheld the rape and sexual assault convictions and 263-year prison sentence of a former Oklahoma City police officer whose case has been watched closely by the Black Lives Matter movement and some conservatives. [Journal Record]

Defense releases video from ex-gubernatorial candidate’s shooting of process server: A former Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate who is jailed on felony charges related to a shooting and alleged threats against the University of Tulsa pleaded not guilty to the charges on Thursday, and his attorney released surveillance video of the shooting. [Tulsa World]

Pretending to hear taught me how to live: I know the way it feels when a hearing aid shatters between your teeth. The crunch of plastic shell. Gritty springs and screws rolling across the molars. Standing in the privacy of my bedroom, the pre-teen version of myself spat the remnants into a sock and tucked them into my chest of drawers. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office says ICE officers staying in county jail: The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office has “no plan” to remove ICE officers from the county jail according to a statement released Thursday morning amid intense local debate on the issue. [The Oklahoman]

In marathon session, City Council hears proposals for MAPS 4: Wednesday the City Council and a standing-room-only crowd heard MAPS 4 proposals for public transit improvements, affordable housing, arena improvements, and a criminal justice diversion hub. The third special meeting of the Council to hear MAPS 4 proposals lasted a whopping eight hours. [Free Press OKC]

7-day event in Duncan to address opioid epidemic response: Duncan has been selected as one of four Oklahoma communities that will take part in a seven-day-long event addressing the opioid epidemic response. The program is part of a $1.4 million dollar grant from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Duncan Banner]

OKCPS teachers prepare to add emotional awareness to education: Mental health is a major focus of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Pathway to Greatness plan. For the new year, each elementary school will have a full-time counselor. Teachers are also adding a personal touch to keep students emotionally engaged. [News9]

Abortion fight: Tulsa clinic asks judge to delay 2015 law again amid renewed legal challenge: A Tulsa abortion provider is asking a central Oklahoma court to keep on hold a law banning a midterm pregnancy procedure after a judge ruled the measure was constitutional. [Tulsa Word]

Nonprofit steps in to save east Tulsa day care center slated to close because of high crime in area: After its corporate owners decided to shut down an east Tulsa early childhood center due to crime in the area, a nonprofit organization stepped in to save the day. [Tulsa World]

A father is helping Tulsa area kids learn to code through a video-game based curriculum: The center allows children to learn computer coding and problem-solving skills while building video games. The grand opening for the Tulsa branch of Code Ninjas is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 10126 S. Memorial Drive, Suite B. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Chief-Elect Hoskin Jr. announces $30M plan to fix homes, community buildings: Cherokee Nation Chief-Elect Chuck Hoskin Junior announced Thursday a $30 million plan that will largely go toward a backlog of housing repair assistance requests. The funding will come from a special dividend from Cherokee Nation Businesses paid over three years, with 75% of it going toward home rehabilitation. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“In Oklahoma, we have pre-emption, meaning that our local municipalities cannot voluntarily go smoke-free if they so choose. It would take action at the state level to create a smoke-free environment.”

– Scott Tholen of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network on the importance of smoke-free laws  – 1 in 3 cancer deaths in Oklahoma are tied to tobaccco, including second-hand smoke. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day

24%

Number of Oklahomans on Soonercare who were hospitalized for mental illness that received follow-up care within 7 days of leaving the hospital.

[Source: Oklahoma Health Care Authority]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

‘Urgent needs from head to toe’: This clinic had two days to fix a lifetime of needs: They were told to arrive early if they wanted to see a doctor, so Lisa and Stevie Crider left their apartment in rural Tennessee almost 24 hours before the temporary medical clinic was scheduled to open. They packed a plastic bag with what had become their daily essentials after 21 years of marriage: An ice pack for his recurring chest pain. [Washington Post]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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