In The Know: Oklahoma school report cards released, bill would increase accountability for state’s charter schools, and more

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

(Capitol Update) A look at redistricting in Oklahoma: An initiative petition to create an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Oklahoma recently was filed by a group called “People Not Politicians.” The proposal would be on the ballot next year as SQ 804 and beginning after the 2020 census, the commission would do the redistricting now done by the Legislature. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

Report cards released for every Oklahoma public school: Statewide grades for Oklahoma public schools have dropped in evaluations of the 2018-19 school year. Oklahoma School Report Cards were released Monday with A-F grades for every public school, every school district and for the state as a whole. [The Oklahoman] The second year of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s revamped school report cards saw an increase in the number of Tulsa Public Schools sites with failing grades. [Tulsa World] The state’s schools grades are slipping, according to new report cards. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Yearly public school report cards released showing strengths, weaknesses. [Free Press OKC] OK Policy analysis shows that progress has been made recently on restoring funding for essential services like education, but it will be a long rebuilding project to full budget recovery.

Lawmaker files bills to increase accountability of state’s charter schools: Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, filed two bills Friday to continue his efforts to improve administrative and financial accountability of Oklahoma’s virtual and brick-and-mortar charter schools. SB 1099 would require sponsors of brick-and-mortar charter schools to provide additional oversight of charters. [Shawnee News-Star] OK Policy has found that virtual charter schools are a cause for concern.

Interim study examines state’s merit system reform: State Rep. Mike Osburn (R-Edmond) hosted an interim study recently before the House Government Efficiency Committee to examine possible changes to the merit system for state employees. State agencies use the merit system as their human resources management structure. Around two-thirds of the state’s more than 30,000 employees are classified within the merit system. Osburn, who chairs the House Government Efficiency Committee, said he had concerns regarding how the merit system may hinder effective human resources practices. [Edmond Sun]

Does investigative tool cloaked in secrecy give prosecutors too much power?: In the multicounty grand jury system, Oklahoma prosecutors have a powerful tool to investigate allegations of crimes and public corruption across counties. But their power is not unlimited. A presiding judge is needed to approve subpoenas, and case law from several court rulings over the years places a check on prosecutorial conduct. Now the multicounty grand jury is back in the spotlight, with attorneys from separate court cases alleging that Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater misused the grand jury process. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tulsa World editorial: Opening of Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice offers building with hopeful tone: Tulsa families and youths in crisis now have a more comfortable, safe and welcoming building for sorting out their legal challenges and trauma. After years of fighting for funding and searching for space, the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice opens next week. About 6,000 youths a year go through the center for issues including adoption, child custody, juvenile offense and child abuse or neglect. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] KIDS COUNT shows Oklahoma in bottom 10 states for child well-being.

Lawsuit challenging school name change to proceed: Oklahoma County District Judge Richard C. Ogden denied a motion by Oklahoma City Public Schools to dismiss the lawsuit during a hearing. The district contends it complied with board policy when it renamed Northeast Academy. Renaming Northeast Academy, a predominantly black school, was criticized by parents and alumni who said the name change wipes away the school’s history and legacy. [The Oklahoman]

School’s in session: New Positive Tomorrows campus to open next week: Estimations are that there may be 6,000 children in the Oklahoma City metro area whose families struggle with homelessness to one degree or another. Many enroll in other public schools; some may bounce from one school to another. Positive Tomorrows, which will have an enrollment capacity of about 210, will offer a place for more stability and continuity, especially for those who might qualify as chronically homeless. [Journal Record 🔒]

Norman ranked most inclusive city in the state: Norman is the most inclusive city for Oklahoma’s LGBTQ community, according to a national group’s annual ranking. The municipalities were assessed by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which used its Municipal Equality Index to tally its scores. [Norman Transcript]

Cherokee Nation, OSU host topping out ceremony for joint medical school: Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University marked the topping out of their new Tahlequah medical school on Monday. The final beam for the OSU School of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation was hoisted into position, putting it on track for the first cohort of students to start in August. [Public Radio Tulsa]

New exhibit highlights Cherokee influence on Will Rogers’ life: He is known as the Cherokee Kid, but discussion about Will Rogers’ Cherokee heritage usually ends there as people move on to discuss his worldwide fame, prolific film career and influential political humor. A new exhibit, which opened this weekend at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, tells the previously untold story – how Cherokee history and culture shaped Oklahoma’s Favorite Son. [Claremore Progress]

Burial committee sets meeting date to review scanning results: The 1921 Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Carver Middle School, 624 E. Oklahoma Place, to review findings of subsurface scanning earlier this fall at Oaklawn Cemetery and Newblock Block. The committee is looking for unmarked burials from Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre. Officials at the time documented 37 deaths from the massacre but acknowledged widespread rumors of a higher — and perhaps much higher — death toll. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We recognize that when our kids’ families live in poverty and when schools have concentrations of poverty, those schools need additional resources in order to help those students achieve. But we don’t give it to them, and then we give them a grade that only reflects the lack of resources that we’re providing.”

-Tulsa School Superintendent Deborah Gist speaking about recently released school report cards [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$12.9 Billion

The total economic impact that tribes made in Oklahoma in 2017. In addition to direct contributions, tribes generate billions in production by companies that support tribes’ business operations.

[Source: Oklahoma Native Impact]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

STUDENT VOICE: “Colleges and universities need to remove barriers that prevent Native students from thriving in college”: A University of Tulsa student writes about how higher education can better meet the needs of students from tribal communities by addressing their ignorance of the realities, histories and cultures of Native communities. Colleges and universities need to remove barriers that prevent Native students from thriving in college. [Hechinger Report]

Note: November is Native American Heritage Month. We recognize and celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma.

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