In The Know: State Ed Board approves ’emergency’ rules about implementing HB 1775 | Medicaid expansion and health equity | 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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma board approves rules banning certain race theories: Public school teachers in Oklahoma could have their teaching licenses suspended for teaching certain concepts about race and racism under new rules approved Monday by the State Board of Education. [AP News] On Monday morning and into the afternoon, Oklahoma’s State Board of Education weighed a number of big topics in one of its last meetings before the start of the school year in August. The board approved new rules around House Bill 1775, which dictates that students should not be made to feel uncomfortable based on their identity. The board also took over the administration of Western Heights Public Schools. [StateImpact Oklahoma] As for consequences for a school’s failure to comply with House Bill 1775, the emergency rules state that “at a minimum” the state accreditation status of the school be downgraded to “Accredited with Deficiency” and that the school be given one academic year to correct such deficiencies. [Tulsa World] The approved rules include a requirement for school districts to develop a process for the public to file complaints regarding violations of the provision. [NonDoc] The board approved on a 5-1 vote the emergency rules to implement a new law that prohibits the teaching of certain topics on race and gender. Board Member Carlisha Williams-Bradley, who is Black, dismissed the debate on critical race theory and said HB 1775 and the accompanying rules propel fear in teaching America’s true and accurate history. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Tulsa Race Massacre’s ongoing health impact, Medicaid expansion, to be focus of upcoming virtual discussion: How the recent expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma could help with community health disparities that trace back to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will be the subject of an upcoming virtual program. “Medicaid and Health Equity: 100 Years After the Tulsa Race Massacre,” which will include a documentary and panel discussion, is set for noon-1 p.m. Friday, July 23. [Tulsa World]

State health commissioner not for or against hospital workforce COVID vaccine mandates: With more hospital systems in the state announcing requirements for their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep their jobs, Oklahoma’s top health official said Friday he does not support or oppose such policies. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Leaders urge Oklahomans to get vaccine as CDC says vaccinated teachers, students don’t need masks. [KOCO]
  • Mississippi state officials urge residents 65+ to stay home, Okla. governor remains quiet [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Stitt’s secretary of education joins two district leaders in 2022 race for state superintendent: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of education has joined two Oklahoma school district leaders in the 2022 election to succeed State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who is term-limited. [Tulsa World] Walters, whom Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt named secretary of education in September 2020, registered his campaign committee with the Ethics Commission on July 9 and has a campaign kick-off event planned for this evening, which Stitt is scheduled to attend. [NonDoc] Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace and Peggs Public Schools Superintendent John Cox have already announced their campaigns. [The Oklahoman

Oklahomans sue to reverse unemployment benefits cutoff: Several Oklahomans are taking the state to court, alleging Gov. Kevin Stitt doesn’t have the authority to terminate coronavirus-related unemployment assistance programs. [The Oklahoman]

Despite anti-hate crime bill, Oklahoma’s Asian American community faces difficulties: Lyn Detpthong, a single mother balancing her job as a full-time nurse with ownership of a Thai restaurant, thought the worst of her struggles were ending earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic began to ease. But starting in April, her Del City restaurant, Tasty Thai, was the target of burglary and vandalism — not once, but four times. [The Express-Star]

Tribal Nations News

FBI reports case growth since McGirt v Oklahoma ruling: The FBI posted a “story” online Thursday, July 8, regarding the growing case load within its Oklahoma City field office over the past year since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 5-4 McGirt v Oklahoma ruling July 9, 2020. Since the federal court ruling in the McGirt case, the FBI’s Oklahoma City field office has managed “thousands of cases,” according to the FBI’s online post, which lacks a byline. The post states that, prior to the ruling, the OKC office handled “about 50 criminal cases a year involving Native Americans.” [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Tulsa World investigates: Oklahoma Highway Patrol fatality pursuits, deadly shootings: Stolen property or traffic infractions prompted all but one of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol vehicular pursuits that killed 18 people the past five years despite policy requiring troopers to weigh if the benefits of apprehension are worth a chase’s risks. [Tulsa World]

Crime center proposal would add closed-circuit cameras to help TPD patrol streets, large events: The Tulsa Police Department would like a better picture of what’s going on around town. So as city officials contemplate how to spend millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds, Chief Wendell Franklin has an idea: Use some of the money to establish a real-time crime information center that would include the use of closed-circuit television surveillance cameras. [Tulsa World]

Pardon and Parole Board votes to hold Julius Jones’ second hearing under new rules: Death-row inmate Julius Jones’ stage two commutation hearing will take place under new rules to give the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board additional time to consider his case. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Increased demand for gasoline leaves Americans paying more at the pump: Fueled by a pandemic that left them stir crazy, folks are hitting the road at a robust pace this summer, driving up the demand for gasoline. At 10 million barrels per day, gasoline demand set an Energy Information Administration record last week, according to the AAA auto club. [Tulsa World]

Cannabis cultivation booming in Delaware County, with boutique grower offering peeks inside medical marijuana operation: Nestled in a small area of Grand Lake is one of the state’s smallest marijuana-growing operations that has many neighbors wanting to take a peek inside. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Western Heights community celebrates state takeover, calls for resignations: Chants calling for the resignations of Western Heights Board of Education members erupted from community members at the conclusion of tonight’s board meeting, which followed a State Board of Education decision earlier in the day to take over governance of the troubled district for the 2021-2022 school year. [NonDoc] The troubled school district in southwest Oklahoma City is without a superintendent after the Oklahoma State Board of Education suspended the certification of its top administrator, Mannix Barnes. Western Heights has lost about 40% of its employees since Mannix Barnes became superintendent in 2019. [The Oklahoman] The move is intended to bring the district back into compliance with state accountability measures that all public school districts must follow. [OKC Free Press]

  • Board of Education acts on HB 1775, Western Heights [NonDoc]

In pursuit of a better democracy or something else: Oklahoma latest state to require high schoolers to pass citizenship test: Oklahoma recently joined several other states in requiring students to pass the same citizenship test administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to graduate from high school. The measure was put forth by House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell who told The 74 that people who possess a greater understanding of American government would be less likely to riot. [The 74]

Oklahoma Local News

  • With more funding expected, Main Street Enid planning more programs, services this year [Enid News & Eagle]

Quote of the Day

“With this legislation, with these rules, we’re robbing students of the opportunity to have a high-quality education, to think critically about the world around us and to build a more just society.”

-Carlisha Bradley, Oklahoma State Department of Education Board member who cast the only “No” vote on implementing the emergency rules surrounding HB 1775, a new law passed this spring that will have a chilling effect on teaching race-related issues. [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Number of complaints reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Education or its officials about districts teaching critical race theory in local schools. 

[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education via The Oklahoman]

Policy Note

Efforts to Root Out Racism in Schools Would Unravel Under ‘Critical Race Theory’ Bills: A wave of legislation in some states aims to severely limit how teachers and schools address race—a campaign that district leaders and experts say would squash a range of efforts to root out discrimination, bias, and racism experienced by students of color. Such initiatives, they say, acknowledge in some way conscious and unconscious acts of racism by individuals and the government. [Education Week]

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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.

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