In The Know: Gov. Fallin calls for earlier release of inmates

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.

Today In The News

Fallin orders earlier release of inmates: Gov. Fallin is pushing the Oklahoma Board of Corrections to loosen its policies governing when most prisoners serving time for “85 percent crimes” can be awarded early-release credits [Oklahoma Watch]. Fallin’s memo directs the board to make a policy change that was recently voted down by the Legislature after it was labeled “soft on crime” [Oklahoma Corrections Professionals].

American Indian Cultural Center opens first installation: With lawmakers recently providing a $25 million bond to finish construction, the museum just unveiled its first permanent outdoor installation. The stainless steel structure “Touch to Above” was created by Cherokee father-and-son Bill Glass, Jr. and Demos Glass [Indian Country Today].

What this panhandle county tells us about the future of Oklahoma: With a population that is majority-Hispanic for all age groups 44 and below, Texas County, OK offers a glimpse into the opportunities and challenges of a rising generation of Hispanic Oklahomans [OK Policy Blog]. Over a four-year period between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014, the Hispanic population has increased by an estimated 48,158 people, while the number of non-Hispanic whites has increased by 17,687 [Tulsa World].

Big gaps between Oklahoma’s lowest performing schools and the rest: At the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in Oklahoma, the graduation rate is 37 percent, compared with 87 percent at the rest of schools. There are also major proficiency gaps between white and black students and between white and Hispanic students, according to results compiled in a White House report [NewsOK].

Some Oklahoma schools switch to 4-day school week to attract teachers: A lot of schools in Oklahoma are juggling flat budgets with increasing costs. Getting teachers to work for the meager starting salary is also a struggle. That’s why some districts in Oklahoma pay teachers in time – four days a week, instead of five [KGOU].

Draft of new Oklahoma English and math standards posted online: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is encouraging Oklahomans to review current version of proposed preK-12 academic standards for English and mathematics. The standards have been posted here. They will also be the subject of town hall meetings to be held 5:30-7 p.m. today at the EngageOK Summer Education Event at Oklahoma City’s Cox Convention Center.

State seismologist at center of human-induced earthquake controversy leaving Oklahoma: Oklahoma state seismologist Dr. Austin Holland has confirmed plans to leave the job for a position with the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico. He said it was an opportunity to cut down from his 80-hour work week [NewsOK].

Attorney General Pruitt’s latest EPA lawsuit likely to go nowhere: U.S. District court Judge Claire Eagan ordered Pruitt to file a brief explaining why he thinks her court has the jurisdiction to hear the suit on a “proposed” rule. Two judges in other districts have already ruled they do not have such authority. The order means Pruitt’s request for an injunction will likely be delayed until after the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is finalized in August, so his lawsuit might be of no relevance [OK Energy Today].

Record rains shut down Port of Catoosa: Incredibly strong water flows and silt buildup along the navigation system meant that barges were unable to enter or leave the port between May 9 and June 28. It’s the longest period of time in the history of the port that they haven’t been able to ship cargo [Tulsa World].

Former Cherokee Chief Chad Smith sues to overturn election: Former Cherokee Chief Chad Smith asked a tribal court Monday to throw out the June 27 election in which current Principal Chief Bill John Baker won a second term and to disqualify Baker as a candidate. The lawsuit says Baker improperly made campaign expenditures in 2014, when Cherokee law restricts them to six months before and after elections [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“Certainly, my stress levels or what I will be stressing about are going to change significantly with this change. The main factors were all factors that I take home at the end of the day: the stress and the sheer number of hours. I want my kids to remember more about me than, ‘My dad worked hard and studies earthquakes.”

-Oklahoma state seismologist Austin Holland, who is leaving the state to join the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico. Holland said low staffing levels at the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the rapid increase in earthquakes had him working 80 hours per week (Source).

Number of the Day


Cost of full‐time infant care as a percentage of median income for single mothers in Oklahoma in 2014.

Source: Child Care Aware

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

We cannot rely on the internet to teach our children: There are limits to what digital learning technology can do, and we have to remember that great teaching has always been a primary driver of academic growth. Students who receive individualized instruction 98% better than the average for students who don’t [Quartz].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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