In The Know: New state program allows students to take ACT for free

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

New state program gives Oklahoma juniors opportunity to take ACT for free: State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister announced Wednesday that a new, voluntary opt-in program would allow Oklahoma’s high school juniors to take the ACT for free. The the Oklahoma State Department of Education has earmarked $1.5 million from its assessments budget to pick up the costs for all public high school juniors to take the college-entrance exam in 2015-16. Although some lawmakers have questioned the decision, education advocate have lauded the move [Tulsa World].

State Department of Education to reconsider redactions: After the state Department of Education said that a rule forced them to redact graduation data from nearly 60 percent of the state’s school district, they will reconsider that rule. The state Board of Education is set to hear a proposal on Aug. 27 that could change an existing rule that requires data with fewer than 10 students be redacted. That meeting will be held in Lawton [Oklahoma Watch].

State pension systems report major decline: A panel overseeing the state’s seven pension systems reports each experienced a major drop in investment earnings over the last fiscal year compared to both the previous year and the average 10-year rate of return. The Oklahoma Pension Commission reported Wednesday the $28.8 billion invested across its pension systems gained an average of 3.6 percent during the fiscal year that ended June 30. That compares to an average gain of 19.9 percent during the previous fiscal year [Daily Journal].

New school meals program to ease child hunger: A new tool called community eligibility provision, which became available nationwide last year, gives high-poverty schools, groups of schools, and school districts the option to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students. This reduces hunger and eliminates the stigma that some students feel receiving a free meal. In pilot states, it has been overwhelmingly successful. Children who are aren’t hungry do better in the classroom. Because schools can eliminate income eligibility paperwork, staff is able to work on other tasks – most importantly, helping children learn [Journal Record].

Oklahoma breaks earthquake records: Last year, Oklahoma had 585 earthquakes. But this year, Oklahoma has had more than that in less than nine months. About 20 minutes before midnight Monday, Oklahoma topped last year’s total with its 586th earthquake of magnitude 3 or greater. The state has averaged 2.5 quakes a day in 2015. If that rate continues, Oklahoma would have more than 912 quakes this year [EnergyWire].

Disturbing facts about domestic violence in Oklahoma: Oklahoma police answer about 120 domestic violence calls per week. A ten-year study found that 41 percent of all homicides in Oklahoma were linked to domestic violence. About one-third of Oklahoma murdered every year are murdered by their husbands [NewsOK].

Tulsa sheriff incurs nearly $13,000 in legal fees in two weeks: Embattled Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s office invoiced $12,839 in legal fees in two weeks in June while fighting a grand jury investigation following the shooting death of an unarmed suspect by a reserve deputy. The legal battle spilled into July, along with the grand jury selection process. That means more expenses were incurred that haven’t yet been released [Tulsa World]. In a related case, former Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates’ attorneys have filed a motion seeking to remove their client as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit including [Tulsa World].

State bans tobacco at schools: A law that went into effect just in time for the new school year bans the use of tobacco products on school property throughout the state. That includes any building housing pre-K through high school classes, including private schools. Off-campus school activities and sanctioned events and activities also are covered [Tulsa World].

Feds to release details on case against Oklahoma Sen. Brinkley: State Sen. Rick Brinkley has been charged with federal crimes as a result of an investigation into embezzlement accusations. Brinkley agreed this month to resign from the Senate, effective Dec. 31. He is expected to move up his departure now that he has been charged. Brinkley has been accused of embezzling more than $1.8 million from Better Business Bureau of Tulsa. He was a top official at the nonprofit organization for more than 15 years [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“As Gov. Fallin has noted in her ‘Oklahoma Works’ initiative, by 2020 more than 60 percent of Oklahoma jobs will require much more than a high school diploma. Young people deserve an opportunity to pursue the American Dream, and in most cases that means a pathway to college or career strategies.”

– State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, speaking about a new program that allows all Oklahoma high school juniors the opportunity to take the ACT free of charge (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of grade levels Oklahoma’s 8th grade math score expectations are behind New York, the state with the highest expectation.

Source: Hechinger Report.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Helping Inmates Pay For College Could Dramatically Reduce Incarceration: Recent attempts to reduce the U.S. prison population have focused on reforming mandatory minimum sentencing and reclassifying crimes, but the Obama administration wants to expand reform efforts to prisoner education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are expected to unveil a program Friday that will offer Pell grants — financial aid for college courses that doesn’t need to be repaid — to some inmates as part of an experimental pilot program. [FiveThirtyEight].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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