In The Know: OEA schools lawmakers on what it will take to avoid teacher walkout

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

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In The News

OEA schools lawmakers on what it will take to avoid teacher walkout: The Oklahoma Education Association on Friday unveiled a massive tax hike plan that it says could pay for teacher raises, add dollars to the classroom and increase state employee pay. Teachers have said they will walk out on April 2 if the Legislature doesn’t provide funding for increased education funding, including a $10,000 pay raise for teachers phased in over three years, with $6,000 raises in the first year. Some state employees are expected to join them in the walkout. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma has many good options to resolve the teacher walkout [OK Policy]

State will soon be top in nation for incarceration: While Oklahoma has always prized individual liberty, it has proven very adept at locking people up. The state has the second-highest incarceration rate in the nation. The prison system is operating at 115 percent of capacity. The Department of Corrections director wants two new prisons and a thousand more guards. [The Oklahoman] 5 Things About Oklahoma’s Incarceration Rate [The Oklahoman] What works to stop crime (hint: it’s not incarceration) [OK Policy]

Educators Across the US Are Using the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike to Inspire Their Own Battle Plans: If Oklahoma teachers walk out of classrooms in two weeks, Mickey Miller will not be among them—though he wishes he could be. The economics teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa is planning instead to pick up extra hours at his second job as a baggage handler at the nearby airport. With his first child on the way, Miller will continue to work the second job just as he had for the last five-and-a-half years. [Mother Jones] Educators plan activism as possible teacher walkout looms [Tulsa World] State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OK Policy]

New law fails to stem flow of prison admissions for drug possession: A voter-approved ballot measure reducing drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor has so far done little to stem the flow of inmates into Oklahoma prisons for that crime. Records show 882 individuals were sent to Oklahoma prisons for possession of controlled substances during the last half of 2017, making it once again the top crime for Oklahoma prison admissions, according to new research by, a national advocacy group for criminal justice reform. [The Oklahoman] SQ 780 is already reshaping Oklahoma’s justice system [OK Policy]

Armed with compassion, locals are keeping watch over their immigrant neighbors: Promptly at noon, the voices of clergy, retirees and others concerned about a wide range of issues facing immigrants and refugees rang out the solemn verses of “We Shall Overcome” around the flagpole of an office building complex in northwest Oklahoma City on March 14. Prayer for immigrants, families, Dreamers, immigration officers and the national government followed the hymn. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Oklahoma teacher breaks down finances and shares her experience: Oklahoma is ten days away from a teacher walkout and no plans have been made by lawmakers. Some say the demands are too high; however, a teacher pay raise plan that’s lower than $10,000 could cause more problems for teachers. Oklahoma teacher and mother, Heather Cody, says a smaller raise would hurt more than it would help. [KTUL] Oklahoma teachers’ real take home pay has shrunk for 10 out of the past 11 years [OK Policy]

Bill Watch: Next week in #okleg: We’re launching a new weekly update to our blog that previews some of the bills we’re watching in the Oklahoma Legislature over the next week. Throughout the week, we’ll continuing sharing advocacy alerts with ways that you can take action on key bills. Although there’s always potential for surprises in the legislative process, we hope this update will help you to be better prepared and informed about these key decisions being made for our state. [OK Policy]

Oklahomans need to support teachers, staff during walkout: Legislators have spent more than a year trying to find a solution to Oklahoma’s budget woes. They’ve suggested taking on more regressive sales and use taxes, while ignoring significant increases to the gross production tax incentive rate. It’s clear that without increased pressure from Oklahomans, our legislators will continue to spin their wheels. [Editorial Board/Norman Transcript]

Families brace for extended school closures during strike: As thousands of Oklahoma teachers prepare to strike and over 100 schools have confirmed they will shut down if a walkout occurs, parents across the state are bracing for a closure of schools, the length of which is anyone’s guess. [The Oklahoman]

Would 5 percent GPT do the trick?: Media reports and murmurs around the Capitol indicate that some Republicans have a greater appetite than ever before to raise the state’s incentive rate for oil and gas gross production taxes from 2 percent to 5 percent. Revenue votes in November and February included GPT at 4 percent, but they each fell short. [William W. Savage III/NonDoc] Reality Check: Restoring Oklahoma’s Gross Production Tax won’t hurt the economy [OK Policy]

Shuttered schools could miss scheduled tests with walkout: Oklahoma’s education funding struggles could be exacerbated if the threatened teacher walkout drags into April, making districts unable to administer federally mandated tests. Students hoping to apply to college, meanwhile, could see their efforts stymied if shuttered schools are unable to administer the pre-set ACT and SAT tests. That’s because teachers’ threatened April 2 work stoppage coincides with the statewide 2018 mandated testing window, which runs from April 2 through April 20. [CNHI]

The movement to throw out judges: From North Carolina to Oklahoma, lawmakers are trying to rein in judges in response to court rulings they don’t like. The latest effort is in Pennsylvania, where 12 Republicans last week introduced resolutions to impeach the Democratic justices who threw out a GOP-drawn congressional map. [Axios]

After years of legislative failure, Oklahoma teachers are ready to strike: No one at the state Capitol can claim they weren’t warned. Teachers are planning a statewide strike starting April 2 unless lawmakers come up with a sustainable plan to fund public schools, including a three-year, $10,000 teacher pay raise. The strike deadline was announced March 6, but anyone could have seen it coming for months — years — before that. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World] Teacher Strikes Are About More Than Salaries. And They’re Not Over. [Mara Pellittieri/Common Dreams] ‘This is not OK’: Cuts are hitting all aspects of public education [OK Policy]

Lawmakers hope walkout can be avoided: As the April 2 deadline bears down on the Oklahoma Legislature to find some revenue before teachers walk off the job, local lawmakers have drifted between optimism and pessimism. Two weeks ago, State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, and State Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, thought the teachers’ threat would provide the incentive to secure an agreement. But then the Oklahoma Education Association said it wanted an additional $1.5 billion spent on education over the next three years, and deliberation fell silent on Capitol Hill. Now, Tahlequah’s legislators again speak with a tone of optimism. [Tahlequah Daily Press

SQ 788 gives Oklahoma doctors another option: Our country is in an opioid crisis. In 2015, 33,000 Americans died of opioid overdose. It is estimated that in America, 91 people die every day due to opioids. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014, states with medical marijuana laws between 1999 and 2010 saw, on average, 25 percent fewer opioid-related deaths than states without such laws. [Scott Michener/The Oklahoman] State Question 788: Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative [OK Policy]

How do you solve a problem like the Health Department?: A commission to improve public health services in Oklahoma recommended setting up a board where local health departments can share their views with the state. Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order Nov. 7 to create a commission made up of state and local health department officials. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“When we announced the possibility of closing schools earlier this month, we intentionally left out a specific plan because we thought the Legislature knew where to find money to properly fund our schools. While we appreciate the efforts to find some answers, they have fallen woefully short.”

David DuVall, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Education Association, at a press conference announcing the organization’s plan to fund raises for teachers and state workers and increase support for state services (Source)

Number of the Day


Share of Oklahoma adults without a high school diploma or equivalency who report going without medical care due to cost, versus just 6.6% of Oklahomans with a bachelor’s degree or greater

Source: State Health Access Data Assistance Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Highly Negative Impacts of Vouchers: How bad are school vouchers for students? Far worse than most people imagine. Indeed, according to the analysis conducted by the authors of this report, the use of school vouchers—which provide families with public dollars to spend on private schools—is equivalent to missing out on more than one-third of a year of classroom learning. In other words, this analysis found that the overall effect of the D.C. voucher program on students is the same as missing 68 days of school. [Center for American Progress]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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