In The Know: Officials call for end of dangerous rhetoric about education | Questions arise about campaign contribution to Tulsa school board race | Gov. intervenes in criminal appeal

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Officials call for impeachment, ‘end of rhetoric,’ as Ryan Walters calls for investigation: After four days of threats against an Oklahoma elementary school, State Superintendent Ryan Walters has issued a statement saying an investigation is ongoing. The continued threats against Ellen Ochoa Elementary School in Tulsa have intensified criticism against Walters, whose polarizing rhetoric since entering office in January has raised concerns over the safety of teachers and students. Legislators have begun calling for Walters to be reprimanded or impeached. [The Oklahoman]

Walters issues video with new demands for Tulsa Public Schools: State Superintendent Ryan Walters issued a video with new, detailed demands for Tulsa Public Schools just one day after the Oklahoma State Board of Education put off his talk of a state takeover and renewed the district’s accreditation for the year. [Tulsa World]

A group spent $18K to help a Tulsa school board candidate. No one can say where the money came from: Last year, a short-lived Oklahoma political action committee reported spending just over $18,000 on direct mail to help a Tulsa school board candidate unseat an incumbent. The national group, however, never reported transferring the amount of money reported by the state group helping E’Lena Ashley in Tulsa; in fact, the national group ultimately reported to the Federal Election Commission that it never gave any money to the state PAC. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma downsizes state fleet; 655 vehicles to be sold: Oklahoma is downsizing its vehicle fleet. State agencies have turned in 655 underused vehicles that will be sold as surplus. [Tulsa World]

Capitol Insider: State works to provide relief from heat: As temperatures continue to hover around the century mark, the stress is showing in various ways. Efforts are underway to help mitigate effects of the extreme heat. [KGOU]

Tribal Nations News

Gov. Stitt appoints special counsel to force state prosecution of Native American: Gov. Kevin Stitt has intervened in an extraordinary case before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals seeking a route for the state to resume prosecuting some Native Americans on reservations in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

Ryan Walters ordered to pay Oklahoma Ethics Commission over campaign report violations: State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters has been ordered to pay $7,800 to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission for filing campaign reports late 14 times during his run for public office last year. [The Oklahoman]

Is Ryan Walters running for governor? This website says so, but it’s not his: The appearance of what looked like a campaign website Thursday encouraged the notion that state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters was starting a bid to become governor three years before the 2026 election. “This is not from us,” was the immediate response from Walters’ spokesperson and close adviser. [The Oklahoman]

Column: How you vote determines whether your officials will put you or their self-interest first: We try to define leadership. We try to teach it. Some seem born to it. Some are destined to enter at a necessary time. Others — they just have the courage to step into the role. Regardless, in this era, we need leadership of the best kind desperately. [Phil Busey Jr. Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail staff begins cell renovations as crowding issues ease: Oklahoma County jail staff and volunteers recently started another round of renovations inside cells of the 30-plus-year-old building. The hope is that the brighter, improved jail can pass future health inspections. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Report: Rising rent, lack of low-income housing development are slowing Oklahoma’s programs: The Oklahoma Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency released a new report about affordable housing in the state. The report narrowed in on three key findings for Oklahoma’s affordable housing needs. Those findings include rising rents and the lack of housing development are “blunting the impact” of the agency’s programs. [KOSU]

Tulsa’s $75M housing investment: Plan for funding expected by early next year: When it comes to Tulsa’s housing shortage and the attendant homelessness crisis, there are many big numbers out there. None has received more attention — at least not recently — than the $75 million for housing voters approved Aug. 8 as part of the $814 million Improve Our Tulsa 3 capital improvements package. [Tulsa World]

Previous tenants feel stiffed by Stillwater landlords: Nearly half a dozen previous tenants of Campbell Property Management in Stillwater are frustrated and say that they feel stiffed when they leave units owned by Campbell. [KFOR]

Economy & Business News

Extreme heat poses danger for Oklahoma cattle, ranchers: As the extreme heat continues across Oklahoma, it not only poses a threat to humans, but also cattle. According to the Oklahoma Mesonet’s cattle comfort advisor, the state has been in the “heat danger” category for the last several days. [KOSU]

Survey indicates steady regional manufacturing, mixed expectations: Manufacturing in Oklahoma and across the multistate region remained mostly steady over the past month, with some companies reporting slightly higher expectations for the future but also lingering concerns about inflation and keeping jobs filled with workers with appropriate skills. [Journal Record]

Education News

Authorities continue to investigate deadly shooting at Oklahoma high school football game: Authorities continue to investigate a shooting Friday night at a local high school football game that left a 16-year-old boy dead and several others injured. [The Oklahoman]

  • What we know about a shooting at an Oklahoma high school football game [KOSU]
  • Mid-Del Schools resumes classes days after student shot, killed at high school football game in Choctaw [KOCO]
  • Gun scare causes panic at Booker T. Washington vs Bentonville football game [KTUL]

Education notebook: Bond elections, Homework Club, college fairs and more: Monday is the last day to request an absentee ballot for the Sept. 12 special election. Sapulpa and Allen-Bowden each have a multimillion-dollar bond package going before voters that day. [Tulsa World]

Column: When it comes to Tulsa schools case, Walters needs to remember Commandment No. 9: When true emotions of fear are caused by bomb threats directly related to Ryan Walters’ massive distribution of false information, it makes it impossible to hear, and certainly believe, when he states, “I’m working to do whatever it takes for these kids.” [Janis Blevins Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: With a bull’s-eye on Tulsa Public Schools, superintendents are asking who’s next: This year, a pall has been cast over our public education system and our educators by our very own leader of our public schools, the state schools superintendent. Instead of supporting public education, he is working to tear it down with lies, innuendos and hate — a FUD attack of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. The plan is working. [Kyle Reynolds Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: More than mop-up duty: Vital role of school janitors often is overlooked: I’ve said before that if we in Oklahoma are going to improve our education system, it will take the efforts of every adult in the room — from teachers, principals, counselors, deans, nurses, those sweet office ladies, unappreciated cafeteria workers, and last but not least, those awesome, awesome janitors. [K. John Lee Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: No worker left behind: A new eye-opening report on trends that will shape the future of workforce development in Oklahoma and the nation illustrates how CareerTech can and should play a starring role in a growing skills-based economy. [Brent Haken Guest Column / Journal Record]

General News

‘Liberate the soul of the nation’: Thousands gather 60 years after the March on Washington: On Aug. 28, 1963, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial to convey his vision for the future of America — one where a person is judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. On Saturday, 60 years later, thousands gathered once again to celebrate the anniversary of that historic day. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • City Care’s new shuttle provides transportation for people experiencing homelessness in OKC [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa city leaders moving forward with plans to build a convention hotel downtown [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma’s education ranking is among the lowest in the country for a number of reasons, and that ranking isn’t going to change if we are constantly engaged in a political battle of wills. We must get the focus back on student outcomes, and away from political rhetoric.”

-Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, in a statement following days of bomb threats to a Tulsa Union elementary school and one of its librarians after the state superintendent shared a video that prompted the series of threats. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma children living in low-income households where more than 30 percent of the monthly income was spent on rent, mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, and/or related expenses in 2021. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

The Fixes Our Public Defense Systems Badly Need: It isn’t just about constitutional rights and fairness. Underfunded, undervalued public defense is also costly to taxpayers. A few states are showing the way toward meaningful reforms. [Governing]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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