In The Know: More Oklahoma Children Could Be Eating Breakfast. This New Report Outlines How

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

More Oklahoma Children Could Be Eating Breakfast. This New Report Outlines How: The cliché exists for a reason: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Its benefits are well-documented, especially for children. However, 1 in 5 Oklahoma children may not have consistent access to breakfast, jeopardizing their growth and ability to learn. For these children, school breakfast can be a lifeline. Unfortunately, school breakfast participation trails school lunch participation in Oklahoma. Just 58 percent of Oklahoma students who had school lunches also had school breakfast in the 2016-2017 school year, according to a new report from Hunger Free Oklahoma [OKPolicy].

OEA Demands Pay Raise for Teachers and School Staff: Oklahoma lawmakers have three weeks to approve over $800 million in new funding, including raises for educators and school staff, or teachers will walk off the job. That was the ultimatum offered Thursday by the state’s largest teacher union, which has called for an April 2 teacher walkout if its demands are not met. “Oklahoma educators have reached a breaking point,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association [NewsOK]. Oklahoma’s average teacher pay and benefits are among the very lowest in the nation and well below surrounding states [OKPolicy]. School revenue rules could change soon [Journal Record].

Interviews Show Teachers on a Collision Course with Unwavering Lawmakers: It became official Thursday: The largest, most organized voice for Oklahoma teachers issued an ultimatum to legislators that teachers will shut down much of Oklahoma’s public-school system indefinitely unless serious money is found to boost teacher pay and education funding. But signs of headwinds emerged quickly, foreshadowing a political stalemate that could pit hundreds of educators against a Legislature that has repeatedly quashed attempts to raise revenue for teacher pay raises [Oklahoma Watch].

Legislature Should Resist Efforts to Weaken Agency Independence: Are Oklahomans better served by state agencies that preserve their independence or that are more directly subject to the Governor’s control? That’s the key question for Oklahoma legislators this session as they consider a series of bills that would fundamentally alter the appointment and governing authority for some of the state’s largest agencies. Currently, most major agencies are governed by boards or commissions, with the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Pro Tem of the Senate sharing appointment authority for board members [OKPolicy].

Senate Passes Measures to Give Lawmakers More Control over Revenue: The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday passed several measures that would give lawmakers more control over revenue.But Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman, said the measures are “accounting maneuvers” to let politicians tell voters they increased funding for various agencies. Sparks said the measures are essentially rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Until the Legislature gets more revenue, the ship is still sinking, Sparks said [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Exploring Plan for Medicaid Work Requirement: Oklahoma will develop a plan within the next six months on how to add work requirements into its Medicaid program. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Tuesday issued an executive order requiring the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which manages the state’s Medicaid program, to file the plans to her and the state legislature [The Hill]. Most Medicaid-eligible adults who can work already do, and ​most of the rest have barriers to employment ​that ​a work requirement won’t fix [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma House votes to eliminate educational, experience requirements for prison wardens: Wardens in Oklahoma’s corrections system would no longer have to meet education or experience requirements under legislation approved Thursday by the state House of Representatives. Wardens currently must have at least a bachelor’s degree and six years of corrections experience. House Bill 2631, by Rep. Greg Babinec, R-Cushing, would eliminate those prerequisites and would substitute training to be determined by the Department of Corrections for training by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, known as CLEET, as a requirement for what are known as correctional peace officers [Tulsa World].

Criminal justice reform battle continues: Oklahoma voters have spoken. Were Gov. Mary Fallin and lawmakers listening? The question is apropos after a week in which the state’s prison industrial complex may be winning an important, behind-the-scenes battle over criminal justice reform. You will recall it was only 16 months ago voters embraced two ballot initiatives aimed at overhauling the state’s lock ‘em up and throw away the key approach to crime and punishment [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

Interfaith Leaders Seek House Chaplain Revisions: A chaplain program at the state Capitol has come under fire once again as several leaders from the interfaith community publicly called for an Oklahoma lawmaker to reverse new guidelines they deem discriminatory. The Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma and other interfaith groups hosted a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday, with representatives from five faith traditions asking that Rep. Chuck Strohm reverse new rules he recently imposed on the House Chaplain of the Day/Chaplain of the Week program [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Lawmaker Sues Texas Political Consultant: An Oklahoma lawmaker is suing a Texas political consultant over a tracking device that was placed on his truck. The Oklahoman reports Republican Rep. Mark McBride of Moore filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court on Wednesday. The lawsuit names Austin-based Democratic political consultant George C. Shipley and the person who hired him as defendants [Washington Post].

Medical Examiner’s Office Settles into New Digs: After years of arguments among officials, abandoned plans and drawn-out negotiations, the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is working in its new building. The office lost its national accreditation in 2009 in part because its outdated facility didn’t meet industry standards. Lawmakers began working to move the office out of the crumbling building, which was in such disrepair it damaged equipment, about a decade ago [Journal Record].

Six Things to Know About Efforts to Audit Untested Rape Kits in Oklahoma: A task force that’s working to determine the number of untested rape kits in the state will meet Thursday for the first time since a deadline passed for law enforcement agencies to audit their evidence rooms and report their number of untested kits. The task force will meet at 1 p.m. at the District Attorney’s Council in Oklahoma City [NewsOK].

Sunday Alcohol Question Could Go to County Voters: The streets of downtown Tahlequah are typically empty on Sundays, since most businesses are closed. But on Monday, the Tahlequah City Council passed a resolution supporting the modernization of Cherokee County alcohol laws. The resolution comes ahead of Oklahoma’s Oct. 1 law change, which will do away with low-point beer – the only alcoholic beverage restaurants are currently permitted to sell on Sunday [Tahlequah Daily Press].

In Oklahoma County, TSET Funds Work to Place Physicians in Medically Undeserved Communities like Spencer: Sheleatha Taylor-Bristow doesn’t mince words about the impact of the Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment program for physicians to practice in medically underserved areas of the state. Taylor-Bristow, a primary care physician at Community Health Centers’ Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center in Spencer, said without the program, “I wouldn’t be able to stay here” [Oklahoma Gazette].

SGA Asks Legislators to Vote Yes on SB 337, Passes Bills to Sponsor Programs: Some local businesses are struggling to compete with online vendors. During its weekly meeting Wednesday, Oklahoma State University’s Student Government Association urged Oklahoma senators to vote “yes” on senate bill 337 to combat this struggle. Bill 337 calls for the state of Oklahoma to require any internet vendor that does not collect tax to report its sales [OColly].

Oklahoma Continues to Add to the Record Flu Year: Hospitalizations and deaths from the flu in Oklahoma continue in March. The latest stats show more than 43-hundred hospitalizations and 228 deaths in this record year. Jamie Dukes with the State Health Department says the older population is the most vulnerable. The most recent deaths are all in the age group 50 years and older. Oklahoma has reported only one pediatric death and none under age four [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma Opioid Deaths Continue to Rise: New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests drug overdose deaths declined in some states — but not in Oklahoma. Drug overdose deaths dropped in 14 states, making health officials hopeful that policies aimed at curbing the death toll may be working. But preliminary numbers from CDC show drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma rose by 12 percent, to 844 people. That’s higher than in previous years, but not by much [KGOU]. 

Quote of the Day

“I know as a member of the House that five minutes prior to session at the beginning of a stressful day, when we know there will be contentiousness on the floor, that time of reflection, that time of learning is a great opportunity to hear from persons of all different backgrounds and faiths as we prepare for the difficult work that we do. To exclude people from that process is just wrong. I stand with this group happily and look forward to moving past this discriminatory process to a time where we’ll return to having persons of all faiths speak to us and help us learn from them.”

– Representative Jason Dunnington, speaking on the recent alterations to the House Chaplain program that restrict legislators from nominating chaplains that are not of the same faith tradition as the sponsoring representative. (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of counties in Oklahoma where the 2016 population was lower than in the first Census after statehood (1910).

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Everyday Chaos of Incarceration: Chaos is a norm, though it sounds oxymoronic to say so. I haven’t experienced a truly good night’s sleep — a sound, comfortable sleep — in two decades. Too much chaos. Too much uncertainty. That brings me to violence, which in prison is the ultimate norm. Over the years, I’ve been stabbed, cut, clunked, almost raped, and had the crap kicked out of me on numerous occasions. And in self-defense — especially back when I was young and considered “pretty” by the sexual predators — I’ve been forced to do a number of those things myself [The Marshall Project].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: More Oklahoma Children Could Be Eating Breakfast. This New Report Outlines How

  1. OK teachers and their supporters should pay attention to WV’s resolution of its teacher strike and the potential for legislative shenanigans and public backlash:

    “At the conference committee hearing, Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said the deal comes with a caveat — the Senate only agreed to fund the raises via “very deep” cuts to the budget, including a $20 million slash to general services and Medicaid.

    These cuts go beyond already planned fiscal reductions to the Department of Commerce and Division of Tourism. Senate Republicans maintained throughout negotiations that they were skeptical of Justice’s revenue estimates.

    “There’s going to be some pain because, with this, we have not agreed, or we will not be using any of the $58 million of the governor’s [new] revenue estimates,” Blair said.”

    ‘We have reached a deal’: WV schools reopening after Justice signs pay raise bill

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