In The Know: Teacher pay raises now in effect

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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

‘It’s a historic and exciting day for Oklahoma’: Teacher pay raises now in effect: Wednesday — a day when few schools were in session across the state — was touted as a hallmark day for education in Oklahoma. The bill that codified the teacher pay raise that passed in March in conjunction with the Oklahoma teacher walkout took effect Wednesday. The average $6,100 for the more than 40,000 teachers across the state is now the law of the land [Tulsa World]. Five things to know as OKCPS starts a new school year [NewsOK]. Oklahoma City high school students can win new car by having perfect attendance [KFOR].

Day Before First Day of School, and OKCPS Still Needs Teachers: Many kids are heading back to school this week, and several districts still have positions that need to be filled. Oklahoma City Public Schools starts school on Wednesday. Superintendent Sean McDaniel said they still have openings. Parmalee Elementary School has an opening for a special education teacher. Head Principal Michelle Lewis said the summer leading up to this was challenging [KFOR].

Oklahoma School Districts Schedule Election Day Holiday: At least seven Oklahoma public school districts plan to make Election Day a holiday this year to encourage teachers and staff to vote. The Oklahoman reports that the state’s two largest districts, Oklahoma City Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools, have scheduled Nov. 6 as an off day. Muskogee, Ada and Shawnee schools have also marked Election Day as a holiday [AP News].

Tulsa Public Schools is pledging to fix ‘pervasive racial disparities’ in indicators of student success: Tulsa Public Schools is pledging to fix the systemic inequities that exist in the district. It will start by admitting that there’s a problem. The Tulsa school board saw a draft of a resolution Tuesday that acknowledges that the city has a long history of racism and that “race continues to be the strongest predictor of success in our country.” The resolution, if adopted in its current form, would pledge to correct “pervasive racial disparities” that “exist across key indicators of student success throughout Tulsa Public Schools, including discipline, reading proficiency, achievement, attendance, advanced course participation and graduation rates.” [Tulsa World]

Board of Health Reverses Course, Approves Looser Medical Marijuana Rules: The nine-member Oklahoma State Board of Health unanimously passed new medical marijuana emergency regulations at a special meeting Wednesday. The new emergency rules, which were updated just a few hours before the vote, are less than a third of the length of the regulations approved at the board’s July 10 meeting [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Medical marijuana becomes hot issue in oklahoma AG race [NewsOK].

Campaign Filings Show Oklahoma Anti-Medical Marijuana Group Was Heavily Financed by Energy Industry: Opponents of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana ballot measure raised and spent more than a million dollars in a little more than a month in an effort to defeat State Question 788, with oil and gas interests pouring more than half a million dollars to the effort, newly released campaign finance reports show [The Frontier].

Should Lieutenant Governor Be a Salesman or Troubleshooter? Here’s What the Candidates Think: The average Oklahoman probably doesn’t think much about what the lieutenant governor does. Most are no doubt too busy worrying about their own jobs. But Dana Murphy and Matt Pinnell have contemplated the position a great deal, and they’ve come to differing conclusions [Tulsa World].

Walmart, Costco Step up Financial Backing Efforts in Support of Eye Care State Question: As Oklahoma’s November elections come into focus, large retail companies are boosting efforts to back a state question that would allow eye doctors to practice in their stores. State Question 793, if approved, would expand where optometrists and opticians can practice and sell eye care products, allowing them to operate in big box retail stores [The Frontier].

Referee Hears Arguments in Ethics Commission’s Funding Lawsuit Against the State: The Oklahoma Supreme Court was asked Tuesday to stay out of a funding dispute between the Ethics Commission and state leaders. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission sued Gov. Mary Fallin, legislative leaders and others alleging its funding was not sufficient to enable it to perform its constitutional duties after the agency was given $710,000 [Tulsa World].

Washington County Judge Guilty of ‘Gross Neglect,’ ‘Oppression in Office,’ State Supreme Court Justice Writes: The Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court alleged in a document filed late Wednesday that Washington County District Judge Curtis DeLapp is guilty of gross neglect of duty, oppression in office and asked that DeLapp be removed from judicial office. As a result, DeLapp will face a trial the following month in front of a panel of judges from across the state [The Frontier].

Regulators Order PSO to Make Additional Refund to the Utility’s Customers: State regulators on Wednesday ordered Public Service Co. of Oklahoma to return $428 million to its customers. The funds are savings the company received through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved an order requiring a return of that amount in a case brought before the agency by Attorney General Mike Hunter [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City Council Moves Ahead with Opioid Litigation: The Oklahoma City Council joined the opioid fight Tuesday, hiring an outside legal team to sue pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and others viewed as responsible for the addiction crisis. The council’s vote was unanimous and came without comment, after discussions and negotiations that lasted much of the summer. A lawsuit could be filed in state court within a couple of weeks [NewsOK].

TV Series Highlights Missteps in Julius Jones’ Death Penalty Case: The Last Defense documentary series focuses on death row inmates who seem to be innocent. In episodes five through seven, the series presented a powerful case that Julius Jones, a former John Marshall High School honors student, did not receive a fair trial in the horrible 1999 Paul Howell murder case. Jones was subsequently sentenced to death [NonDoc].

Governor Wants Rape Kit Answers: Oklahoma’s task force that was created to review how agencies handle rape kits has met again to discuss further work. The Oklahoman reports that the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence met Monday for the first time since submitting its report to lawmakers in June. The report recommended protocols for how to handle the more than 7,200 untested rape kits, how long law enforcement agencies should keep rape kits and how future kits should be tested [Public Radio Tulsa].

Licensed Child-Care Options Drying up for Oklahoma Parents: Child-care options are becoming harder to find in Oklahoma. This has some parents scrambling ahead of the upcoming school year. In the last month, two highly-rated Oklahoma City child-care centers announced they would be closing their doors. Oklahoma City Community College closed its child development center in late June. Around that same time, OSU-OKC announced its center would be closing Aug. 10 [KTUL].

‘This Is an Urgent Issue’: Delaware County Residents Air Chicken House Worries: Frustration and worry filled the air as about 135 people packed the pews and stood at the back of Eben Ezer Lutheran Church in Oaks on Sunday afternoon. The area residents said the number of contract poultry houses in eastern Oklahoma has grown exponentially, and they made it clear that the number of concerned people is growing, as well [Tulsa World].

‘It’s Been Almost 100 Years, and People Still Don’t Know’: Virtual Reality Project to Bring Black Wall Street History to Life: Looking through Agnes’ eyes, spectators will see a young love and life cut short. They will see a community burned to the ground, and Agnes with it, for reasons beyond her 14-year-old self. Agnes isn’t real, never was, but she could have been. She is the story of 1921 Black Wall Street from the mouths of survivors, from witnesses, newspaper clippings and books [Tulsa World].

OU Professor Tapped by President to Be Head of Office of Science and Technology Policy: President Trump has tapped  Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, who serves as secretary of science and technology on the governor’s  executive Cabinet, to serve the country as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Donald Trump announced he intends to nominate Droegemeier, of Norman, to the post [OK Energy Today].

Quote of the Day

“It’s a crucial step forward, but many more must be taken. The challenges facing Oklahoma classrooms cannot be remedied by a one-year fix any more than one time on a treadmill makes you ready for the Olympics. It’s time to build on this significant momentum.”

-State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, speaking about the Oklahoma teacher pay raise that went into effect Wednesday [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Average income of the top 1 percent of earners in Oklahoma in 2015. The state average for the remaining 99 percent was $52,533

[Economic Policy Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Are Too Few College Students Asking for Federal Aid? Many factors can affect the FAFSA completion rate, but one that stands out is the economy. When it’s doing well, fewer students see a need to apply to college, especially if it means taking on debt. “FAFSA completion and college-going are countercyclical to the health of the economy,” the NCAN report stated. “Given the low national unemployment rate, the relative strength of the American economy is not likely to push prospective students on the margin to enroll” [Hechinger Report].

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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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