In The Know: State Board of Ed OK’s revised budget without across-the-board pay raises | Independent counsel to review Glossip case | 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. 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.

State Government News

Budget request OK’d as Ryan Walters chairs first meeting of overhauled state Board of Education: Newly elected State Superintendent Ryan Walters received approval Thursday for a revised fiscal year 2024 budget request with $150 million for teacher incentive pay and $100 million for early-grade reading instruction. It was Walters’ first Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting since he was sworn into office. He faced a barrage of bipartisan questions and criticism earlier this week when he appeared before a State House committee without details of his new budget request. [Tulsa World]

  • Ryan Walters leads first State Board of Education meeting, amends budget request [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma State Superintendent Walters proposes education budget changes, no across-the-board teacher raises [StateImpact Oklahoma]
  • Ryan Walters’ $150 million teacher incentive pay plan advances to Legislature [The Oklahoman]
  • State Supt. Ryan Walters’ funding plan approved by Board of Education [KOKH]
  • Column: Lawmakers give Walters poor marks on first report [Arnold Hamilton Column / Journal Record]

Tribal Nations News

Tribes, Oklahoma must work out ‘fine details’ for legal sports betting: House Bill 1027 involves a tiered fee structure for tribes, where they pay more of a percentage of their revenue based on how much money they take in. That resembles the state’s exclusivity payments for tribes under the model gaming compact. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Attorney General Drummond hires independent counsel to review Richard Glossip case: Death row inmate Richard Glossip is getting a new review of his innocence claim, this time from an independent counsel hired by the state’s new attorney general. [The Oklahoman]

  • Richard Glossip’s death-row case to be reviewed by independent counsel, Oklahoma AG says [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma AG appoints independent counsel in Glossip case [Public Radio Tulsa]

Multiple Oklahoma sheriffs openly defy new Department of Justice ruling on firearms: Multiple Oklahoma sheriffs, including those in Oklahoma and Logan counties, say they will not enforce a recent U.S. Department of Justice ruling on firearms. In January, the Justice Department formalized a rule to address “stabilizing braces” and accessories used to “convert pistols into short-barreled rifles” to be fired from the shoulder, ordering that any weapons with such accessories that constitute rifles under the National Firearms Act must be registered. [The Oklahoman]

Carjacking investigation leads to officer-involved shooting in northwest Oklahoma City: A police officer is on administrative leave after firing his gun this week during a carjacking investigation at an apartment complex in northwest Oklahoma City. Police said Master Sgt. Ronnie Waugh, a 20-year officer, fired his gun after he “perceived a threat” from a man who had fled from a stolen vehicle. No one was hit by the gunfire. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

A decade of scandal at Epic Charter Schools: As more news emerges about embezzlement schemes at Epic Charter Schools, it might be difficult to keep up with the saga. That’s why StateImpact’s Beth Wallis asked Oklahoman newspaper reporter Nuria Martinez-Keel to get us up-to-speed on the last decade of Epic’s scandals. Martinez-Keel covers education at The Oklahoman and has been with the publication for four years. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Oklahoma Senate bill could end student-teacher privacy: A new Oklahoma State Senate bill seeks to transfer decision-making power from teachers to parents. At 14 pages and over 3,600 words long, State Sen. Cody Rogers (R-Tulsa) wants Senate Bill 131 to completely overhaul the state’s Parents’ Bill of Rights. It’s a wide-reaching bill touching on many issues, most notably sex education, but covers several areas of parental consent. [KOKH Fox 25]

Public Colleges in Oklahoma Must Account for ‘Every Dollar’ Spent on Diversity Over the Past 10 Years: Public colleges in Oklahoma are hurrying this week to compile details on “every dollar” spent over the past decade on diversity, a response to a prompt from a state education leader. It’s another example of heightened interest by a Republican state official in documenting, and potentially curbing, colleges’ efforts to promote equity and inclusion. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

‘You’re doing it right,’ US education secretary says after visiting Francis Tuttle: U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said he was impressed by what he’s seen of Oklahoma’s CareerTech system after visiting with students and teachers at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. [The Oklahoman]

State board vote could close Sovereign Community School in six months: An Oklahoma City charter school is on a path toward closure after four years of financial and academic disarray. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted 4-1 on Thursday in favor of issuing a notice of termination to Sovereign Community School. The Indigenous-focused charter school educates 109 students in fifth through 12th grade at 12600 N Kelley. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

‘The world is taking notice’ of Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma, new chamber leader says: “Film and television production are becoming a booming business in Oklahoma,” he said, specifically mentioning “Reservation Dogs,” “Tulsa King” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” among 28 different projects that came to the Tulsa area in 2022. [Tulsa World]

General News

‘Not just counting people.’ Volunteers comb freezing OKC to gather key data on homeless: Lt. David Dale, Oklahoma City Police Department’s homeless outreach team supervisor, spoke to her first on Thursday during the 2023 Point in Time census and survey of people experiencing homelessness. Then Point in Time team members Alex McGowan-Rayburn and Karen Martinez struck up a conversation with the woman and learned that she began abusing drugs shortly after her father died. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“You’re waking people up at 4 o’clock in the morning to take a fairly lengthy survey in return for a bus pass, and people are very willing to do that for you. It reinforces the idea that they’re not homeless people — homelessness doesn’t define them. They’re just people ― brothers and sisters, moms and dads, sons and daughters — that are in a temporary rough patch, and they behave pretty much like you and I do.”

– Homeless Alliance Executive Director Dan Straughan speaking about Oklahoma City’s Point in Time survey about people who are experiencing homelessless [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


About 95 percent of Oklahoma children (~700,000) learn in public schools that span 1,800 locations throughout all 77 counties statewide. In 2019-2020, Oklahoma had 177 private schools serving about 32,650 students. [Oklahoma State Department of Education] | [National Center for Education Statistics]

Policy Note

Voucher Programs Gain Strength With Help From the Courts
The movement to publicly fund tuition for students to attend private schools has gained momentum on the heels of a handful of recent court decisions—raising concerns for some advocates who fear consequences for public schools. [EducationWeek] 

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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