In The Know: Remedies to teacher shortage; no specific threats to election system; runoff tests teacher’s political movement…

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.

[There are less than two weeks left to purchase your ticket for our 10th Anniversary Gala. We hope you will join us on Thursday, September 13th to honor former Speaker of the House Kris Steele and former state Superintendent Sandy Garrett with our Good Sense / Good Cents award. We will also welcome The New Yorker magazine’s humorist and feature writer Ian Frazier as our keynote speaker. Individual tickets and sponsorships are available now.]

In The News

As teacher shortage nears crisis, other states may offer remedies: The latest counts of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma capture a stubborn reality: Classrooms across the state are being staffed by a teacher who isn’t fully trained or prepared. In just three months, state officials have already given emergency certification to 2,153 teachers who haven’t obtained certificates in the subject they will teach –surpassing the record from all of last school year. [Oklahoma Watch] Teacher shortage prompts record 2153 emergency certifications in Oklahoma. [CNHI]

No specific threats to election system going into Tuesday’s primary runoff: State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax assured voters on Monday that there were no specific threats to the state’s election system heading into Tuesday’s primary runoff. Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. [Tulsa World] Tulsa World editorial: Five reasons to go vote Tuesday [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] For a list of voting resources and election deadlines, visit our 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections page. [OK Policy]

Runoff in District Near Pauls Valley Tests Strength of Teachers’ Political Movement: Tuesday is Oklahoma’s primary runoff election and in House District 20, an educator is campaigning to oust Republican incumbent Bobby Cleveland, who’s held the seat for six years. It’s a theme that’s playing out in races across the state, and the outcome of the runoff south of Norman could test whether Oklahoma educators are part of an election moment — or a true political movement. [KOSU]

Fact check: Are state superintendent candidates certified educators? Several of the candidates for state superintendent of public instruction brought up their certification or classroom experience on Friday at a forum hosted by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. Of course, whether a candidate holds a teaching certificate isn’t the only issue voters should consider, but I thought voters might find it valuable if I  fact-checked the candidates’ claims. [Oklahoma Watch]

Senate leader names budget committee chairs: It’s one of those things that goes largely unnoticed but is as important as anything the legislative leadership does. Last week Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat named his Appropriations subcommittee chairs who will serve under Appropriations Committee Chair Roger Thompson. All Senators are members of the Appropriations Committee, but the nuts-and-bolts budget work is done in six subcommittees. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Medical Marijuana applications roll in over the weekend: Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program generated more than $2 million in fees over the weekend, but the agency won’t get to spend it for a while. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority opened its applications for licenses on Saturday. Residents submitted more than 2,000 applications in a matter of days. Half of those were for personal use. [Journal Record] Questions remain as thousands of Oklahomans apply for medical marijuana licenses. [KOCO

Medical marijuana working group now taking public comments via email: Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Working Group is now accepting public comments through email. The legislative group heard public comments for the first time at its regular meeting last Wednesday. Nearly two dozen Oklahomans signed up to speak after two doctors presented to the board. [Public Radio Tulsa] Muskogee backs off on stricter medical marijuana ordinances. What have other cities done to address SQ 788? [Tulsa World]

$1.8 million grant to improve health, wellness of Oklahoma schoolchildren: A new project aimed at improving the health and wellness of schoolchildren in Oklahoma is about to start, with the help of a $1.8 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Oklahoma State Department of Education says “Project Get Fit! is designed to improve student access to nutrition, increase physical education opportunities and increase access to case management services for students with chronic health conditions.” [News On 6]

Latest proposed truancy ordinance reduces fines, eliminates possible jail time for parents, guardians: The latest version of the city’s proposed school truancy ordinance excludes any mention of jail time for parents and guardians of children who are truant and reduces substantially the proposed fines. The proposal was discussed Monday during a meeting of the Truancy Prevention Task Force at City Hall. [Tulsa World] Tulsa has better options than punitive responses to truancy and homelessness. [OK Policy]

Courthouse protest targets Betty Shelby’s teaching law enforcement training class: Elected officials and faith leaders criticized the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office on Monday for allowing former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby to teach a course on surviving critical incidents, saying it is a step backward for race relations in Tulsa. “We’re saying that you need to get another teacher,” said state Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, backed by about three dozen protesters outside the Tulsa County Courthouse. [Tulsa World]

Black Lives Matter marks five years, OKC group remains active: Men were hanging erotic paintings on the walls of a Sheridan Avenue art gallery on a Wednesday afternoon when Rev. Sheri Dickerson walked in. A poet and member of Individual Artists of Oklahoma, she was excited about preparations for “Biting the Apple,” the group’s annual risqué show and fundraiser. [NewsOK ????]

Five to be inducted into Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame: Five Oklahoma women will be inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame on Sept. 27. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women the ceremony is open and free to the public. This year’s inductees are Susan Chambers, Jane Jayroe Gamble, Joan Gilmore, Willa Johnson, and Kay Rhoades. [NewsOK]

Federal Transit Administration awards Cherokee Nation $1.3m for electric buses: The Federal Transit Administration has awarded the Cherokee Nation $1.3 million through its Low- or No-Emission Grant Program. The funding will cover 90 percent of the cost for two new buses — and not just any buses. The buses fall in line with more than the tribe’s commitment to shrinking its carbon footprint. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Former OU researcher defends scientific freedom while facing climate change questions: Calling himself a scientist, stormchaser and educator, former University of Oklahoma Vice President Kelvin Droegemeier adamantly defended freedom of scientific inquiry from political influence while facing questions on climate change from a Senate panel. [NewsOK]

American, Oklahoma flags to fly at half-staff on state property in honor of the late Sen. John McCain: Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday directed all American and Oklahoma flags on state property to fly at half-staff to honor the life of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. The flags will be flown at half-staff through 8 a.m. Sept. 4. McCain died Saturday after a battle with brain cancer. [Tulsa World] GOP senator praises McCain but says he’s ‘partially to blame’ for White House flag controversy. [CNN]

Quote of the Day

“We are starting to see the effects of the teacher shortage and it is scary since we are so close to OSU. Teacher raises should help increase the number of applicants but may take some time to realize the progress. All professions pay top dollar to attract what they feel is the very best so why shouldn’t education try to do the same?”

– Morrison Public Schools Superintendent Jay Vernon [CNHI]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who couldn’t vote in 2016 because of felony convictions, up from 0.8% in 1980

[The Sentencing Project]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

To Keep Women From Dying In Childbirth, Look To California: When Cayti Kane delivered a baby boy via cesarean section last year, her team of doctors was prepared. Kane had been diagnosed with placenta accreta, a condition that increased the likelihood of a dangerous hemorrhage during delivery. When that happened, she had an emergency hysterectomy. Kane and her son went home healthy. Complicated, high-risk deliveries in the United States often end tragically. An American woman is three times as likely to die from childbirth as a woman in Canada and six times as likely as a woman in Scandinavia. [NPR]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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: Remedies to teacher shortage; no specific threats to election system; runoff tests teacher’s political movement…

  1. “All professions pay top dollar to attract what they feel is the very best so why shouldn’t education try to do the same?”

    The answer is in the following articles, from just this week:

    Only the last of these is from a blog rather than an accepted news source, and it is best at prescribing paths forward. All outline the basic answer–we won’t pay what teachers are worth in the future because our finite time and declining resources will be redirected to these existential concerns. It won’t just be education that gets less, but all social services and issues such as advocated here on this site, fighting it out over whatever gets left once the 1% and their mandarins, nomenklatura, and courtiers siphon off theirs as they always do and will have every incentive to do even more. This was arguable three decades ago. It ceased being arguable after the Kyoto treaty except by deniers.

    Climate deniers come in two types. The first is exemplified by the piece above about the former OU exec. But those types are well known and their arguments are being submerged by the minute, in some cases literally. The second type, though, is more dangerous because they claim to accept that climate change is happening and in fact belittle the first type of denier. But then, like the school superintendent quoted above, proceed to think, talk, and act as if nothing is changing and, worse, that at some point, we’ll go back to the good old days when such quotes had some degree of credibility if not likelihood. This second group of deniers is in fact far bigger than the first and be more subject to attack when the situation is far worse and harder to deal with by the coming generations because of the second group’s hiding behind the first group to justify its own lack of attention, strategy, and confrontation.

    We are currently seeing every day the many new effects of climate change and its related threats (potable water accessibility, erratic food and energy supplies and delivery, physical and mental health, and already aged infrastructure built for different temps and climates, economic growth) with only a bit more than 1 degree C (1.8C) of global temp increase. The second group of deniers has proclaimed 2 degrees a target while the sunnier scientists say we can live with 1.5 increase (just less than 3 degrees F). Tell the Katrina/Harvey/Maria victims, the drought-ravaged areas, the sinus sufferers in places never bothered before that 1.5 is okay. And remember that all this is with the emissions from 2-3 decades ago, not those we are putting out now, which are at levels last seen by dinosaurs. As stated in the links, there will be NO “new normal.” Change will be the constant and the past and all its linear data will be irrelevant in our now nonlinear world.

    What this means for school superintendents (also, state and local agency directors, elected officials, and policy thinkers) should be to any sentient person (so there goes all hope, I hear you saying) that they have to get themselves, their staffs, and their charges aware, ready, and above all resilient in the face of historical change. The days when the above quote was meaningful are gone, as are reasonable public service expectations based on assumptions of those and current times. This will be clear even to the second group of deniers well in time to be the topic for a very soon-to-come OPI anniversary celebration . . . and ALL the anniversaries after that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.