In The Know: How OKC schools will be recommended for closure; OK sees 4th-most per capita fatal police shootings; & more

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

Proficiency rates will factor in Oklahoma City school changes: Academic performance is one of 10 criteria that will help determine how some schools in the Oklahoma City district are recommended for closure or consolidation this year. Oklahoma’s largest school district is operating at about 60 percent of capacity and faces $11 million in cuts to state aid over the next two years based on projected enrollment declines. [NewsOK ????]

Oklahoma finishes 2018 with fourth-most per capita fatal police shootings: Oklahoma had at least 33 fatal officer-involved shootings in 2018, the second-most the state has seen in more than a decade. That figure was the fourth-highest per-capita rate in the nation according to an analysis by The Frontier. [The Frontier]

Oklahoma has 231 county commissioners, 7 are women: Of the 231 county commissioners in Oklahoma, seven are women. State law requires each of the state’s 77 counties to elect three county commissioners. Among other things, they oversee the county’s budget, its jail and its roads and bridges. Only one in 11 Oklahoma counties have a woman on their board. [Journal Record]

What They Make: The salaries of public officials: After Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt is inaugurated this month, he will be arguably the most powerful public official in Oklahoma. But he’ll be far from the highest paid. Stitt will earn $147,000 a year as governor. More than 900 state employees earn over $100,000 a year and more than 100 of them are paid more than the governor, according to a recent analysis of salaries of various state, county and local officials performed by The Oklahoman. [NewsOK ????]

Stitt to face learning curve with state government, observers say: When newly elected Gov. Kevin Stitt takes the reins of Oklahoma’s government later this month, observers say he’ll face some challenges that will need to be quickly addressed. From finances to lingering economic issues to stubborn agency heads that he’ll find difficultly controlling, the political novice will likely have his hands full in the first months of his term, observers said. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Osborn prepares for move from Legislature to labor commissioner: Leslie Osborn, a former state representative from Mustang who developed a reputation as a Republican moderate, with a bit of a maverick streak, said she plans to continue efforts for occupational licensing reform and champion workforce development as Oklahoma’s next labor commissioner. [NewsOK ????]

Wayne Greene: Three steps to clean up the Legislature’s reputation — and its reality: A new Legislature is rolling into the state Capitol any day now. Whether the members will live up to the sad, caricatured stereotype many Oklahomans have in mind when they think of their state government is yet to be seen. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

Tulsa World editorial: Being a Top 10 education state starts with providing top funding: Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt joined a Twitter chat among teachers and school administrators last week and asked how to measure education success. During his campaign, Stitt promised to put Oklahoma public schools in the “Top 10” in the nation. But that was left undefined. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Theresa Cullen: For teachers, new year’s resolutions should involve keeping the Legislature resolute in support of education: As an educator, it is one of my personal resolutions to communicate with legislators throughout this year and let them know that I am an engaged voter. We use social supports to help reach our personal resolutions. Why are we not using this same idea of social support to reinforce our legislators on their legislative resolutions this year? [Theresa Cullen / Tulsa World]

Laura Dester center grabbed the headlines. But state’s child-welfare reform remains system-wide under eyes of oversight panel: Transitioning the Laura Dester Children’s Center from a shelter to a treatment facility has garnered the spotlight, but the state also is grappling with improving the quality and array of foster care while screening out unsafe homes, according to a report released last week. [Tulsa World]

Settlement to provide student loan debt relief for more than 1,100 Oklahomans: Career Education Corporation will forgo collecting more than $2.2 million in student loan debt from 1,131 Oklahomans as part of a national settlement, Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Friday. [NewsOK]

Water boil order issued for system in Pushmataha County: The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is advising users of the Sardis Lake Water Authority in Pushmataha County to boil water before consuming it or to use bottled water. The agency said Friday the advisory was issued due to high turbidity in the water and loss of pressure following a line break. [AP News]

Group readies endangered species lawsuit to block OKC from pumping water out of river: A group organized to protect an ecologically sensitive river in southeastern Oklahoma is preparing a lawsuit accusing multiple governments of violating the Endangered Species Act. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Wildlife Department to debut new online licensing system Monday: The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is rolling out a new digital licensing system for hunters and anglers on Monday that features a mobile app for smartphones. Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of the Wildlife Department, said the new system will be more convenient and user-friendly for Oklahoma sportsmen and women. [NewsOK]

Muscogee (Creek) Nation chief vetoes proposal to restore Free Press Act: Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd on Friday vetoed an act that would have restored Mvskoke Media as an independent agency. He offered five objections to the legislation. The measure would have repealed a piece of legislation abolishing the tribe’s Free Press Act. [Journal Record]

Shutdown leaves food, medicine and pay in doubt in Indian Country: For many Americans who are not federal workers or contractors, a shutdown is a minor inconvenience. A trip to a national park may be canceled. A call to a government office may go unanswered. But for Native American tribes, which rely heavily on federal money to operate, a shutdown can cripple their most basic functions. [New York Times]

Quote of the Day

“As we look to this new year, and we make personal resolutions — I challenge you to make one to remain engaged and support our legislators on issues important to us. For me, I want to continue to share my voice as an educator in the state and keep an eye on bills related to education. The voice of people of Oklahoma is not about two weeks pacing in front of the Capitol with signs, but sustained engagement with our elected officials.”

-University of Oklahoma education professor Theresa Cullen [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s change in inflation-adjusted expenditures per student from FY2014 to FY2016. Oklahoma was one of only four states to decrease education expenditures during this time period.

[Source: National Center for Education Statistics]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The geography of opportunity: Work hard and get ahead. That, in a nutshell, is the American dream. For that bargain to thrive, Americans need access to the kind of jobs that reward hard work, or a local economy that lets them start a business. And increasingly those opportunities are not spread evenly across the American landscape. Virtually all the jobs created in the past decade have occurred in a handful of U.S. cities, and business creation is at a 30-year low. What this means is that the American dream is alive and well for some Americans, and out of reach for others. And which group you’re in depends greatly on where you live. What this means is that the American dream is alive and well for some Americans, and out of reach for others. And which group you’re in depends greatly on where you live. [Politico]

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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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