In The Know: Last day to apply to join our team as a field organizer, Raising the kindergarten age in Oklahoma may leave some children out, Oklahoma issues first annual classroom grants

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

Today is the last day to apply to join our team as a field organizer for Together Oklahoma in northeast Oklahoma: Organizers will work to expand our membership base, support our volunteer leaders, and equip and train individuals for effective advocacy. Organizers will develop local outreach strategies and convey our policy proposals throughout their region in an engaging and empowering way. The deadline to apply is today, Friday, August 16th at 5:00 pm.

In The News

Raising the kindergarten age in Oklahoma may leave some children out: A controversial proposal in the Oklahoma state legislature would delay the age kids would be eligible to start kindergarten and put Oklahoma on-trend with dozens of other states. But some childhood experts say the trend may not serve Oklahoma kids well. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Another bill considered last session would have moved the age cutoff for students to enter Pre-K as well. 

Oklahoma issues first annual classroom grants: Oklahoma’s top school official announced Wednesday the first disbursement of classroom grants funded through a program that allows individual and corporate taxpayers to donate a portion of a state tax refund. A total of $70,000 has been awarded to 50 Oklahoma teachers through individual grants up to $5,000. [The Oklahoman]

Dwindling state funding forces universities to tap other sources for capital projects: As colleges and universities struggle in the face of continued cuts to state higher education funding, institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to fund vital construction projects and renovations. At the same time, aging infrastructure and expanding student populations have made it impossible for campuses to avoid investing in much-needed capital projects. [Journal Record ????Though cuts to higher ed have received less attention than K-12, they’ve been more drastic.

OxyContin maker Purdue agrees to provide research data: The maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin has agreed to provide access to proprietary research and other data to researchers at Oklahoma State University to help them find causes and treatments for drug addiction. Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma announced the agreement Thursday in a joint statement with the university. [AP News]

Attorney certain tribal gaming compact will be renewed: An attorney who was involved in negotiating the compact that has provided a legal framework for tribal governmental gaming operations in Oklahoma for 15 years said Thursday he has no doubt that the compact will renew in January. “We were pretty alarmed that anyone would seriously take an alternative view,” attorney William Norman said in an email to The Journal Record. [Journal Record ????What’s That? Tribal Gaming Compacts

Despite ‘warmer’ letter to tribal leaders, Stitt’s position on gaming compacts remains unchanged: In an effort to kick-start negotiations, Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday sent a letter to tribal leaders suggesting both sides put aside their disagreement over when the tribes’ gaming compacts with the state expire. But the governor’s position on the compacts remains unchanged. [Tulsa World]

Buettner named OHCA chief of staff: Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Kevin Corbett has named Ellen Buettner chief of staff. Buettner most recently served as chief of legislative affairs for the Oklahoma Office of Attorney General. Prior to her service at the OAG, Buettner spent 10 years at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services serving in a variety of roles, including assistant general counsel, director of human resources, and senior director of governmental relations and public accountability. [CHNI NewsWhat’s That? Oklahoma Health Care Authority

‘We have to be responsible’ Sen. Marty Quinn said on healthcare reform: State legislators convened for the first meeting of a bipartisan working group aimed at finding solutions to increase access to health care and providing insurance coverage for more citizens. House Speaker Charles McCall compared the group to the one held to discuss implementation of medical marijuana last summer. [Claremore Daily ProgressNeed more information on the state question that would put health care expansion on the ballot next year? Click here for our SQ 802 resource page.

Interim study trying to reduce robocalls: A Duncan state senator is hoping he can devise a plan to stop those pesky robocallers who are flooding Oklahomans’ phone lines. State Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, said he’s planning to hold a interim study at the Capitol about the issue. A constituent complained that he had to change his number because he was receiving so many robocalls. [CHNI News]

State entity to rejoin Department of Commerce in 2020: The administrative entity of the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development is making an organizational move back to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen said the move will take effect Jan. 1. [The Oklahoman]

GRDA board approves $40,000 raise for CEO, votes to decommission plant’s coal-fired unit: The Grand River Dam Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a $40,000 per-year raise for the state agency’s CEO and president Daniel Sullivan during the board’s monthly meeting on Wednesday. [The Frontier]

Criminal Justice Advisory Council studies MAPS 4 proposals, annual report: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council met August 15. A local non-profit explained their mission, the first Annual Report of the council was reviewed, and representatives of three MAPS 4 proposals provided recaps of their City Council presentations. [Free Press OKC]

Mental health experts: Mental health just one piece of larger mass shooting puzzle: While statements made by several Oklahoma politicians make it clear they believe the key to preventing mass shootings lies in increasing mental health funding rather than tightening gun laws, mental health experts believe the solution is more nuanced. [The Frontier]

Bynum explains why he did not sign letter urging Senate to act on gun safety proposals: “I don’t sign group letters,” he said. “Anytime that I have an issue with the state or federal government, I contact my colleagues in those areas directly and talk with them directly about it.” [Tulsa World]

Centennial committee letting community decide how to tell its story: From the moment the first shots were fired nearly a century ago, one of the fiercest controversies surrounding Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre has been who gets to tell the story and how. It is not a strictly black-white issue. Many narratives have contended for primacy. The commission formed to coordinate activities surrounding the centennial of the massacre quickly ran into the same issue. [Tulsa World]

Innovations in oil industry boost production, efficiency: Technology has transformed the oil and natural gas sector, allowing companies to stay in business during price drops and eventually to expand while remaining cost-conscious, according to speakers at the Tri-State Oil and Natural Gas Convention in Woodward last week. [The Oklahoman]

Poll: Joe Biden has early lead with Oklahoma Democrats: Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field among Oklahoma Democrats just more than six months before the state’s presidential primary, but the party’s state chairwoman believes that edge may be fragile. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“In a state where we have high rates of childhood poverty and we have high rates of childhood ACEs those kids need to get in a system that’s going to attend to their needs and get them the services they need, those educational and social services— and for many kids that system is school.”

– Diane Horm, director of the Early Childhood Education Institute in Tulsa, on why it may be damaging to some kids to raise the start age for kindergarten and pre-K programs [StateImpact]

Number of the Day

76 billion

Number of opioid pills distributed in the United States from 2006-2012, approximately 245 per American

[Source: Associated Press]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

An Unanswered SOS: An alarming number of school children are in crisis. So is the school counseling system that’s supposed to support them: Arizona may be in the worst shape, but states in general offer little recourse for this growing cry for help. School districts across the country are grappling with a lack of mental health resources. Menard worries that, like many school counselors, she is so overwhelmed by the number of students and their problems that it impedes her ability to build a rapport with the most troubled students. “A lot of kids are falling in the cracks,” she says. She is particularly troubled that she may have missed the warning signs when one of her students committed suicide two years ago.  [Governing]

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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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