In The Know: State Department of Education admits it didn’t review Tulsa teacher training audio | Abortion laws impact clergy, social workers | 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.

New from OK Policy

A contrast in focus about Oklahoma’s education needs (Capitol Update): With the failure to provide increased public-school funding, and with the focus on restrooms by the state’s top appointed education leader during the runup to an election, one must wonder why Oklahoma has a teacher shortage crisis. Perhaps some teachers have concluded that that’s what Oklahomans want. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

State Department of Education now admits audio from a Tulsa teacher training was the same as the slides: Contradicting earlier statements, the Oklahoma State Department of Education now admits that audio from a Tulsa teacher training found to violate a state law banning some teachings about race was actually the same as text from slides that it determined were OK. [The Frontier]

  • Tulsa superintendent talks new programs, opportunities amid recent controversies [KJRH]
  • Tulsa World Opinion podcast: House Bill 1775 is a dumb law but we’re dealing with it (Audio) [Opinion / Tulsa World]

Clergy, social workers fear fallout from Okla. abortion laws: Strict anti-abortion laws that took effect in Oklahoma this year led to the quick shuttering of every abortion facility in the state, but left questions for those who work directly with women who may seek their advice or help getting an abortion out of state. [AP]

  • Outlawing abortion in Oklahoma: The rush to get sterilized post-Roe [KTUL]

State Government News

Gov. Kevin Stitt appoints Ken McQueen as new Oklahoma energy secretary: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday appointed a former oil executive and Environmental Protection Agency official to serve as his energy secretary. [The Oklahoman] As of Sept. 3, Ken Wagner will no longer be Oklahoma’s secretary of energy and environment, having been replaced with Ken McQueen in the latest personnel change in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet. [The Journal Record]

Oklahoma officials react to growing threats aimed at FBI: There have been no threats reported at the FBI’s Oklahoma City field office in the last week, but they are still paying attention to the increased hate aimed at the agency. Oklahoma lawmakers have helped fuel the distrust in the FBI. [KFOR]

Voting and Election News

Energy firms help fund candidates seeking to regulate Oklahoma’s oil and gas sector: More than one-fourth of all campaign funds received by the frontrunner for an open Oklahoma Corporation Commission seat have come from political action committees, most related to energy production, an example of how much attention this down-ballot race receives from the powerful sector it is tasked with regulating. [The Oklahoman]

Democracy Watch: How Cumbersome is Oklahoma’s Ballot Initiative Process?: After Kansas voters decided to protect the state’s constitutional right to abortion care earlier this month, reporter Carmen Forman of The Oklahoman published an article about the possibility of a similar question appearing on the ballot in Oklahoma. Here’s a brief primer on how citizen initiatives make the ballot in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch]

Health News

Monkeypox shows disparity in black gay and bisexual men: As a result of tightly connected sexual networks, monkeypox may have found a new niche for spreading — among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and bisexual men. Moreover, Black gay and bisexual men are already showing disproportionate rates of monkeypox infection compared to non-Black MSMs — mainly in the South. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Criminal Justice News

How funding mental health services could reduce incarceration in Oklahoma: Signs of Oklahoma’s strained mental health care system run throughout the state’s jails and prisons, which incarcerate people with mental illnesses at disproportionately high rates. [Big If True] From OK Policy: The legislature made important steps forward on criminal justice this session. More remains to be done. | Follow through on SQ 781 by funding treatment and rehabilitation services

First prison wife of death row inmate Richard Glossip says he “used me for financial gain”: In a sworn statement sent to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, the first prison wife of death row inmate Richard Glossip wrote that she feels used and “did not get anything out of the relationship.” [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa County DA says law enforcement facing ‘fentanyl crisis’ due to lack of regulation at border: In 2021, the Eastern District of Oklahoma prosecuted 28 fentanyl-related cases. By the first of this month, that number had already doubled to 56. [Tulsa Public Radio]

Economy & Business News

Analyst: Decline in gas prices may end this week: A two-month decline in gasoline prices may be coming to an end this week due to an increase in wholesale prices and motorist demand, a national analyst said. [Tulsa World]

Report: Foreclosures on the rise in OKC: Oklahoma City is among the top 10 metropolitan areas where foreclosure filings are on the rise, according to the latest report from real estate data provider Attom. The report shows 1 in every 854 housing units nationwide had a foreclosure filing in the first half of 2022. In Oklahoma City 1,003 filings were reported from January through June, an increase of 394% from 203 filings from the same period last year. [The Journal Record]

Education News

OSSAA exploring future NIL legislation for high school athletes: As NIL continues dominating college athletics, its effects slowly are seeping down to high school landscape. Currently, 14 states allow high school student-athletes to profit off NIL, while a handful of others remain unsure because of a lack of clarity in legislation. [Tulsa World]

  • OKC district’s nearly $1B bond issue will be on November ballot. What would that go toward?: [The Oklahoman]

General News

Southern Baptists say denomination faces DOJ investigation: Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have confirmed that several of the denomination’s major entities are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in the wake of its multiple problems related to clergy sex abuse. [AP via The Journal Record]

Remembering Aug. 15, 2021, when a generation of Afghans grew old overnight: For those still stuck in Afghanistan, the bitter story of Aug. 15, 2021, is not over yet. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma County commissioners dole out ARPA funds [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma County approves first round of ARPA funding, contracts for new jail [The Oklahoman]
  • We asked every Tulsa City Councilor candidate the same 11 questions. Here are their answers on a variety of topics facing Tulsa [Tulsa World]
  • Tulsa mayor’s PAC not planning to weigh in on Tuesday’s City Council elections, he says [Tulsa World]
  • Projections show OKC’s MAPS 4 will collect $100M extra. Where will that money go? [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We keep treating this as a criminal justice issue, when really it is a civil issue that we need to get people in the right kind of treatment and keep them in treatment. Until we do that and realize we shouldn’t be arresting mentally ill people on misdemeanors or low-level felonies, we’re going to continue to have a problem, and it’s going to get worse.”

-Robert Ravitz, chief public defender for Oklahoma County, speaking about the rising need for mental health and substance use treatment services that have been compounded by increased homelessness. The unsheltered are also more likely than others to experience police encounters and arrest. [Big If True]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who live in a “child care desert,” which means there are either no providers within their ZIP code or too few available slots. About 68 percent of Oklahomans living in a rural area are in a child care desert. Available child care is especially low among certain populations, such as the 57 percent of Latinx families who report struggling to find licensed child care providers. [Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness]

Policy Note

Demanding Change: Repairing our Child Care System: The pandemic illuminated how indispensable child care is for the well-being and economic security for our children, families and communities, while simultaneously revealing the system’s many shortcomings. Child care has been underfunded for decades, resulting in an inadequate supply of high-quality programs and too many families priced out of the system. Providers can only charge what families can afford, which often translates into near-poverty wages and limited benefits (if any) for early educators. It is no secret that COVID-19 exacerbated these past and present challenges. [Child Care Aware of America]

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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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