In The Know: Key facts to know about Medicaid expansion proposal, How does Epic Charter Schools stack up academically?, Tulsa-area districts hope to fill teacher vacancies before start of school

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.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Updates) Lawmakers scramble to come up with Plan B on health care expansion: Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, and Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, chaired the first meeting of their joint healthcare working group last week. The pair introduced a bill last year to create a form of Medicaid expansion, but Governor Stitt wanted to wait a year to give himself time to develop an alternative.  [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

In The News

Jail Trust votes to establish Oklahoma County Jail administrator position: In a 6-2 vote Monday, the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority or, Jail Trust, established a new position of Jail Administrator – a separate position from County Sheriff. [Free Press OKC] In the coming months, the Oklahoma County jail will be operated by an outside jail administrator rather than through the sheriff’s office. [The Oklahoman]

Key facts to know about Medicaid expansion proposal: The Healthcare Working Group, a bipartisan legislative committee charged with deciding whether to endorse Medicaid expansion or other policy moves, kicked off its work last week and is expected to unveil recommendations before next year’s session. Meanwhile, a signature-collecting drive is underway to put a state question on a 2020 ballot to accept expansion. [Oklahoma WatchClick here for our OK Policy’s information page on SQ 802.

How does Epic Charter Schools stack up academically? Check out student proficiency test scores: Epic Charter Schools trails statewide averages on all 14 state tests for students in grades three to eight and posted proficiency rates on four of those tests on par with or even lower than the perennially low Tulsa and Oklahoma City inner-city districts. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa World editorial: A new school year should push the state forward to meet continuing needs of education funding: Most Oklahoma public schools resume classes this week. Locally, Bixby, Jenks and Sand Springs reconvene Tuesday. In Tulsa, Union and Broken Arrow, the first day is Wednesday. The beginning of the school year is naturally an exciting, optimistic time: New students come to new classrooms eager to learn. [Editorial Board / Tulsa WorldThe budget passed last session included $157.7 additional dollars for public K-12 education.

Oklahoma teachers, student join Tulsa superintendent for back to school discussion at Woody Guthrie Center: A panel of educators and one student from the Tulsa and Oklahoma City school districts didn’t hold back on the issues of state funding for education, teacher preparation and class sizes at a Saturday discussion. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa-area districts hope to fill teacher vacancies before start of school: The district reported having 32 vacant teacher positions as of Friday, averaging fewer than one per school. District officials believe those vacancies will be filled by the time school starts. [Tulsa World]

Public schools increasingly enter virtual learning landscape: Even as enrollment in virtual schools like Epic Charter Schools continues to grow, many Oklahoma public school districts have been slow to respond, hesitant to innovate. But now, in a sudden statewide shift, public school districts are aiming to make up for lost time and lost students by launching nontraditional programs of their own. [Enid News & Eagle]

Face-off over gaming compacts amps up, as tribes launch marketing campaign: The back-and-forth between the Oklahoma governor and Native American tribes over gaming compacts appears to be amping up: Some tribes have launched a multi-faceted media campaign promoting the benefits they bring to the state. [Oklahoma WatchWhat’s That? Tribal Gaming Compacts

ODOC facing correctional officer shortage: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said it needs 600 cadets, and that doesn’t include current corrections officers. The DOC said the number of empty officers’ positions is actually much higher. [News9]

Oklahoma County files petition against opioid manufacturers: Oklahoma County has filed its official petition against opioid manufacturers for allegedly creating a public nuisance in the county. The petition, filed Friday, also accuses the companies of fraud, negligence, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment and punitive damages. [The Oklahoman]

Professionals address high rates of opioid abuse in Carter County at town hall meeting: After a week full of events addressing the opioid epidemic, several panelists and community members came together in a town hall meeting Friday to discuss how to move forward. [Ardmoreite]

Emergency wind farm rules introduced by state regulators: New proposed emergency rules designed to protect U.S. military installations from wind farm encroachment were announced Monday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. [OK Energy Today]

County assessor takes oil companies to court: Payne County District Judge Phillip Corley is being asked to decide how much property tax seven different energy companies owe the county for 2019. The companies and Payne County Assessor James Cowan disagree on the value of their taxable property to the tune of $273 million. [Stillwater News Press]

Norman City Council revisits medical cannabis ordinance changes: Norman City Council will try to clarify the medical marijuana ordinance amendments that were tabled during last week’s meeting. [Norman Transcript]

MAPS 4 poll questions need for new stadium: An independent poll of Oklahoma City voters shared with city officials over the weekend shows strong support for building a mental health facility and housing for the homeless on the MAPS 4 sales tax issue, but much less for new sports facilities. [Journal Record ????]

Black leaders and mayor recall past civil rights gains – point to future needs: Sunday, black leaders vowed to continue the fight for racial justice as they recalled past gains of the Oklahoma City Sit-ins 61 years ago and sanitation strike 50 years ago. A service commemorating those two events was held at Fifth Street Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City with the Prospect Baptist Church choir providing music leadership. [Free Press OKC]

Bynum signs executive order adding gender identity, expression to city’s nondiscrimination policy: Mayor G.T. Bynum on Monday signed an executive order extending the city of Tulsa’s nondiscrimination policy to protect more of the LGBTQ community. [Tulsa World]

Cole says questions abound about Cherokee delegate to Congress: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole predicted Monday that it will take a long time to resolve the Cherokee Nation’s claim that it has a treaty right to a delegate to Congress. Cole said the full House would likely have to approve any such change to its membership. [The Oklahoman]

O’Rourke talks domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City visit: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Monday toured the sites of two Oklahoma massacres that he attributed to the kind of hatred and racism still dividing the country. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We’ve had two sessions and we’ve gone from cutting to reinvesting. Not enough, but we are reinvesting. How are we going to catch up if we think $1,200 is like ‘yay.’ We have to make sure we don’t get complacent about it.”

– Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist, noting that Oklahoma still has work to do in order to get back to the education funding levels of 2008 [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahoma’s 77 counties that contained a food desert in 2017.

[Source: Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In rural areas, homeless people are harder to find — and to help: In many rural places around the country, the ongoing addiction epidemic strains the social safety net, which advocates say puts more rural people at risk of becoming homeless. But the scattered and hidden nature of homelessness in rural places makes it an especially hard problem to measure and address. [NPR]

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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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