In The Know: State superintendent candidates debate | Child tax credit | Judicial races on Nov. 8 ballot | 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

Judges on the Ballot in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know: Oklahoma is one of 39 states where voters have a role in selecting judges. On Nov. 8, 2022, Oklahoma voters will decide whether to retain four Supreme Court justices and five Court of Civil Appeals judges. In addition, voters in some counties will vote to elect district and associate district court judges. Judicial elections usually don’t attract as much publicity as other races, so we’re taking a look at how judges are chosen, what’s at stake in the elections, and how you can learn about the candidates. [Cole Allen / OK Policy] | [2022 General Election Voter Resources]

Oklahoma News

State Superintendent candidates Ryan Walters and Jena Nelson square off in debate: State Superintendent candidates Ryan Walters and Jena Nelson joined Fox 25 on Tuesday in an exclusive debate ahead of the general election happening Nov. 8th. Tuesday’s debate on FOX 25, the only televised debate between the two candidates, saw the two candidates vying to succeed current State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister who is running for governor against incumbent Kevin Stitt. Includes video of the debate and a fact check. [Fox 25

  • Replay: Jena Nelson and Ryan Walters debate for Oklahoma state superintendent [The Oklahoman]
  • 5 takeaways from the state superintendent debate between Ryan Walters and Jena Nelson [The Oklahoman]
  • Nelson, Walters face off in only state superintendent debate of general election [Tulsa World]
  • Book, bathroom controversy highlighted in superintendent debate [The Norman Transcript]
  • Culture questions: State superintendent race pits Jena Nelson against Ryan Walters [NonDoc]

Walters Advocates ‘Patriotic Training’ For Oklahoma Teachers: State Superintendent candidate Ryan Walters says if elected he will mandate patriotic training for teachers. Walters says he wants this training from Hillsdale College available for all history teachers in the state if elected, but the Oklahoma Education Association says the state shouldn’t be nationally outsourcing trainings but using our own state resources instead. [News On 6]

All States Lost Ground on Nation’s Report Card. Oklahoma Slipped More Than Most: Students across the country lost significant ground in reading and math amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to newly released national assessment data — but Oklahoma students’ scores slipped more than most. The data offers the clearest picture yet of academic setbacks incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and comes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card. Unpredictable shifts to virtual and distance learning, trauma from illness and death, and an ongoing teacher shortage have made pandemic-era schooling difficult. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Column: Odds are stacked against Oklahoma families. How child tax credit reform could help: Oklahomans’ quality of life and familial values should not be sacrificed at the expense of starting a family, nor should businesses suffer because parents want to provide more opportunities for their families. Soaring inflation and escalating child care costs make the decision to either start or grow a family difficult for parents who fear raising their children in poverty. [Monica Collison Guest Column / The Oklahoman

Voting and Election News

What Stitt Has and Hasn’t Done to Address Oklahoma’s Poor Health Outcomes: Sedentary lifestyles, poverty, lack of insurance and poor access to medical and mental health care plague Oklahomans, ranking the state among the nation’s unhealthiest. Gov. Kevin Stitt promised to use his business acumen to make Oklahoma top-10 in public health. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma’s Democratic candidate for governor uses education policy to build momentum (audio): Education has become a major political issue in the U.S. and one that Republicans tend to use to their advantage. But in Oklahoma, a Republican stronghold, things might start to favor Democrats. [NPR]

OKC puts sign code update on pause after ACLU threatens lawsuit: An update to Oklahoma City’s code regulating signs has been delayed over First Amendment and artistic freedom concerns, city officials confirmed Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

As RSV surges nationally, Oklahoma cases begin to rise: Oklahoma is seeing the beginnings of a rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, as hospitals across the country are dealing with a troubling surge of the virus, which tends to affect young children. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma DA Candidate Runs on Dropping Charges Against Officers Who Killed 15-Year-Old: Oklahoma County, the largest in the state, will choose a new top prosecutor for the first time since 2007. A conservative firebrand seeking the job promises to “support the police, not persecute them.” [Bolts, in collaboration with The Frontier]

In a twist involving Oklahoma County DA race, missing woman arrested in Mexico: A missing woman and her husband have been found in Mexico, two weeks after one Oklahoma County district attorney candidate accused the other at a debate of being complicit in their disappearance and possible murders. [The Oklahoman]

Okmulgee slayings: Victims’ families file wrongful death suit against person of interest and his wife: Families of three of the four men found dismembered in Okmulgee County this month are suing the “person of interest” police have identified in the criminal case, along with his wife. [Tulsa World]

  • Order prevents person of interest in Okmulgee killings from selling his property [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Chesapeake Energy trims workforce ahead of oil properties sale: U.S. shale gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.O) last week cut about 3% of its workforce, according people familiar with the matter, as it readies a sale of South Texas oil properties. [Reuters]

How did Oklahoma fare in latest unemployment reports?: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate rose slightly in September for the second straight month but remained below the national rate, according to new figures from the U.S. Labor Department that also show a rise in hourly wages. [The Oklahoman]

Hobby Lobby founder says his business has a divine owner: ‘I chose God’: The founder of an Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts retail chain is making news for following principles he says are rooted in prayer and the Bible. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

OU appoints interim director of polytechnic institute: The University of Oklahoma has announced that James J. Sluss Jr. will serve as interim director of the OU Polytechnic Institute, pending OU Board of Regents’ approval. [The Norman Transcript]

TCC, Tulsa Tech sell jointly owned building on Skelly: Officials with Tulsa Community College and Tulsa Tech have approved the sale of an office building they have co-owned for nearly 30 years. [Tulsa World]

James Halligan, former OSU president and state senator, dies at 86: James Halligan, former Oklahoma State University president and state senator, died Tuesday in Oklahoma City at the age of 86. Halligan served as OSU president from 1994-2002 and guided the Cowboy family in the aftermath of a 2001 plane crash that killed 10 people associated with the men’s basketball program. [The Oklahoman]

General News

Exposing the Financial Costs of Climate Change—and Denial of the Climate Crisis: Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, declared that the blacklist bill would put an end to what he called “energy discrimination.” Which is another way of saying that the state should go back to discriminating in favor of oil. That mix of tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industries has amounted to as much as $500 million annually in recent years. [Mother Jones]

Exhumations resume for DNA to ID Tulsa Race Massacre victims: Some of the 19 bodies exhumed for testing in an effort to identify victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and then reburied in an Oklahoma cemetery will be removed again starting Wednesday to gather more DNA. [Associated Press]

Column: Local support is important for victims who attempt to leave abusers: Many state programs and organizations are making strides to address this issue, but we can all play a part when it comes to helping friends, family and even strangers who are in abusive relationships. [Kayla Woody Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Incoming Tulsa city councilor refers to council candidates as ‘literal fascists’ and a ‘Nazi’: Incoming Tulsa City Councilor Laura Bellis didn’t know she was being recorded earlier this month when she described three challengers in next month’s City Council runoff elections as “literal fascists,” and one of the three as a “Nazi.” But now that the video is out, Bellis — who was elected in August to represent District 4 — wants the public to know she does not use those words lightly. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“There’s nothing in this data that tells us there’s a measurable difference in the performance of states and districts based solely on how long schools were closed.”

– Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which manages the administration of the annual Nation’s Report Card of school assessments [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s national rank for education spending for 50 states and the District of Columbia, ahead of only Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada [Education Data Initiative]

Policy Note

One country, two histories: What does it mean to be an American?: Two approaches to American history that have captured public – and critical – attention recently are best known by their dates. The 1619 Project reframes U.S. history, focusing on slavery and its ongoing legacy. The 1776 Report, commissioned by President Trump and released in January 2021, and the separate 1776 curriculum – produced by Hillsdale College in Michigan – champion a traditional view of America’s founding. Visits this spring to classrooms where both approaches are being used offer insights into the differences in what’s highlighted in each – but also show the similarities: extensive discussion, reading and analyzing texts, and expectations for students to contribute to society. Educators at the schools talk about the need to create informed citizens, ready to participate in the work of democracy. [Christian Science Monitor]

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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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