In The Know: State board approves first taxpayer-funded religious charter school | Lawsuit challenging CRT ban stalled | Oklahomans losing ground on homeownership | Capitol Update

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.

New from OK Policy

Examining the death penalty in Oklahoma: Insights from last week’s interim study (Capitol Update): The House Judiciary-Criminal Committee conducted an interim study on the death penalty last week at the request of Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow. The interim study was more substantive than one might expect, with several witnesses pointing out weaknesses in the state’s legal process that leave open the possibility of a wrongful conviction. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Nation’s first religious charter school receives green light to open in Oklahoma next year: The nation’s first Catholic charter school cleared its final bureaucratic hurdle and could open next year, barring a court order forbidding it. St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Charter School will be the first state-funded religious school. The school, created by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa, is expected to open for the 2024-25 school year with a first-year enrollment goal of 500 students. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma board approves proposed contract for nation’s first publicly funded religious school [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • Oklahoma board OKs proposed St. Isidore Catholic charter school contract [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board approves contract for nation’s first religious public charter school [KFOR]

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmakers respond to act of war on Israel: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered U.S. and Oklahoma flags on state property to be flown at half-staff on Monday in support of Israel. Various Oklahoma lawmakers issued statements of support for Israel and of condemnation of the brutal violence initiated against Israel by the Hamas terrorist organization over the weekend. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma lawmakers consider updates to graduation requirements for bolstering workforce performance: The interim study on graduation requirements that was held at the Capitol brought together leaders in education and Oklahoma lawmakers to determine the steps Oklahoma needs to take to give students a world-class education. [KOKH]

  • Accountability key to flexibility in high school curricula, panel told [Tulsa World]

Experts to Oklahoma lawmakers: Corporal punishment not effective long-term, has detrimental consequences: This spring, despite national outrage, lawmakers failed to pass a bill prohibiting corporal punishment on students with disabilities. At a legislative interim study Thursday, lawmakers questioned experts on the impacts of corporal punishment. [KOSU]

Tulsa Race Massacre reparations: State studies proposals: For the first time in decades, lawmakers at the Oklahoma State Capitol held a hearing to study progress on recommendations for reparations to survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma legislators study tax penalties hurting small businesses: The study, led by state Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, highlighted issues with usage of agricultural sales tax exemptions and high interest rates that make it difficult for taxpayers to pay penalties, resulting in business closures. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma state Representatives Alonso-Sandoval, Pae Organize Study on Artificial Intelligence: A bipartisan study on the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) will be held at the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 10. [The Oklahoma City Sentinel]

Federal Government News

Brecheen endorses Jim Jordan as Tom Cole lashes out over McCarthy’s ouster: Oklahoma’s newest member of Congress is the first in the delegation to pledge allegiance in the fight for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, while another continued to lash out at colleagues over what he clearly considers a wrong move. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Native American Day brings tribal leaders to Tulsa with message of resilience: “This is a great day,” said Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation principal chief. “There is progress afoot as Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated across the United States. And because this event is getting better and better, there is progress in the great city of Tulsa, and I am proud to bear witness to it.” [Tulsa World]

First Americans Museum hosts Indigenous People Day celebration: The event featured everything from social dances, music and food, to a food sovereignty panel discussion and access to community resources. For many, it’s a day of celebration for Native communities and remembrance of their histories. [KOSU]

  • OKC Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day at First Americans Museum [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

What’s on the ballot for the October 10th special election in Oklahoma: Voters in 22 counties across Oklahoma are heading to the polls on Tuesday to consider school bonds, municipal propositions, and party representatives for Senate District 32 in Southwestern Oklahoma. To view a sample ballot, visit Oklahoma’s voter portal. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Prison Held Inmates in Shower Stalls for Days: State personnel at Great Plains confined several prisoners in two-by-two-foot shower stalls for days with limited access to basic necessities, two correctional officers allege in an incident report obtained by Oklahoma Watch. [Oklahoma Watch]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma child poverty rates on the rise across the state: The Oklahoma child poverty rate continues to rise across the state. Recent data shows the issue is only getting worse. [KFOR]

Housing agency cuts off Oklahoma waitlist for Section 8 rental assistance: A state agency that funnels federal dollars for rental housing programs throughout Oklahoma will stop accepting new applications amid a continued housing shortage for low-income families. [Oklahoma Voice]

Study of homeownership shows Oklahoma losing ground: Historic home price inflation and rising mortgage interest rates have coupled to put homeownership outside the reach of a rising number of Americans, including in Oklahoma. In fact, a recent study of factors influencing homeownership revealed that Oklahomans may have lost more ground than would-be buyers in most other states. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Help Wanted: Oklahoma retailers tread toward holidays: Oklahoma retailers looking to increase staffing heading into the holidays may have a tough time due to the state’s high rate of employment and hiring challenges. [Journal Record]

Education News

Groups challenging Oklahoma’s critical race theory ban want action on stalled lawsuit: Educators, students and civil rights groups challenging Oklahoma’s law against “critical race theory” are urging a federal judge to take action in their two-year-old lawsuit, saying teachers are in their third year of self-censoring and students are being deprived of a “culturally inclusive education.” [The Oklahoman]

Seeking to address low scores, Ryan Walters promotes the ‘science of reading’: Since he took office, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters has made improving Oklahoma’s reading scores one of his core priorities, but his clashes with legislators and his focus on culture-war divides have left little air in the room for breathing life into reading pedagogy. Nonetheless, the topic is one Walters wants to discuss, and he has worked to amplify the existing Science of Reading Academies program created in 2021 by his predecessor, Joy Hofmeister, as a way to address sagging reading scores during the pandemic. [NonDoc]

FOX25 digs into communications between PragerU and Oklahoma Department of Education: Just how far did a controversial curriculum company go to get into Oklahoma classrooms? FOX25 went looking for that answer, and is bringing you the communications between the representatives from PragerU and the State Department of Education. [KOKH]

533 teachers take advantage of Oklahoma signing bonus program to address vacancies: After 533 teachers took advantage of a signing bonus from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Superintendent Ryan Walters said he wants to make the program permanent. The department spent $16 million to recruit hundreds of teachers to the state, which was paid for using current agency, state and federal funding. [KOCO]

General News

Tulsa Massacre survivor Hughes Van Ellis passes away at 102: Hughes Van Ellis, the youngest of three last known living 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, passed away at 102 years old on Monday. [Black Wall Street Times]
  • Hughes Van Ellis, one of the last known survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, dies at 102 [CNN]

Quote of the Day

“We’ve been bragging a lot in the last few years about how much money we’ve saved. Well, it’s time to spend some of that in the areas where we claim to care the most, which is for our kids… And it’s hard in a state where we have a balanced budget, and every dollar sends you into a political conversation about what our priorities as a state are.”

– Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC, on Oklahoma’s high child poverty rate and the urgent need for state policy solutions to provide relief for those who need it most. [KFOR]

Number of the Day


Living wage per hour for a childless adult in Oklahoma. For a single adult with one child, the living wage in the state rises to $32.96 per hour. [MIT Living Wage Calculator]

Policy Note

Young Americans are struggling to gain economic ground. Building a better school-to-career pipeline can help: Brookings partnered with Child Trends to look more closely at the factors shaping upward mobility during a formative period in people’s lives: their teens to age 30. We wanted to get a fuller picture of whether people from families with lower levels of education and income find steady, decent-paying employment in adulthood. The findings were stark. Almost 60% of the study population experienced minimal earnings growth through their 20s and, at age 30, earned less than $20,000 per year. More than half of adults from modest backgrounds earn so little that they struggle to cover the basic costs of living. [Brookings]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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