In The Know: Tuition rates to increase; Epic accused of manipulating enrollment; driving people into debt

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.

New from OK Policy

OK Policy selects Ahniwake Rose as new Executive Director: Oklahoma Policy Institute announced today that Ahniwake Rose, an Oklahoma native who is currently serving as Deputy Director and interim Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., has been chosen to lead the organization as its next Executive Director. She will replace longtime director David Blatt, who earlier this year announced his intention to step down this fall. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: A bottom 10 state for children: A new assessment of the well-being of Oklahoma’s children shows we have tremendous work to do to ensure that all children are able to thrive. Oklahoma ranks 42nd out of all 50 states for overall child well-being, according to the 2019 Kids Count Data Book, released last week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Oklahoma Policy Institute. [David Blatt / Journal Record] Read more about Oklahoma’s ranking in the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

In The News

Tuition rates likely to increase: A legislatively mandated raise for higher education faculty is further squeezing the budgets of many colleges and universities across the state, school presidents said Wednesday. Despite an additional $28 million cash infusion by the Legislature to help fund higher education, most of Oklahoma’s college students should expect to see their tuition rates to climb an average of $5 a credit hour, officials told the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. [CHNI]

Former Epic teachers describe pressure to manipulate enrollment: Administrators at Epic Charter Schools have been allowing, encouraging or pressuring teachers to manipulate students’ enrollment for years in order to improve employees’ bonus pay, according to at least seven former teachers. Teacher bonuses were dangled like “a carrot” and used to push for withdrawals of low-performing students, the teachers said. [Oklahoma Watch] One in four students at Oklahoma’s largest virtual charter school are automatically disenrolled due to 10 consecutive absences, a rate more than twice the state average. [The Oklahoman]

In Oklahoma, private companies run pretrial services, driving people into debt: Cleveland County Pretrial Services is one of a growing number of private for-profit corporations entering the pretrial services industry in jurisdictions across the country, charging people for their own community-based supervision. This particular company has contracted with Cleveland County, Oklahoma, since 2008, charging people anywhere from $40 to $300 per month (plus occasionally an $8 daily fee for electronic monitoring) for different levels of supervision as they await trial. [The Appeal]

Oklahoma’s Fort Sill has a history of jailing minority groups. Migrant children could be next: Minority groups gathered Saturday at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, to protest plans to house more than 1,400 migrant children there later this summer. But for many among the 200-some that gathered last week, Fort Sill has a history of incarcerating minority groups. The site was used in the 1860s and 70s to jail Native Americans — notably Geronimo — and served as an internment camp for 700 Japanese Americans during World War II. [PRI]

Longtime Tulsa County death-row inmate found dead in prison infirmary: A death-row inmate from Tulsa County sentenced in 1998 reportedly died in prison on June 6. Shelton Jackson, 46, was pronounced dead in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary infirmary after serving 21 years in prison, Department of Corrections spokesman Matt Elliott said in an email. A corrections officer reportedly found Jackson unresponsive about 2:45 a.m. in an infirmary unit cell, Elliott said. [Tulsa World]

Moore lawmakers talk Capitol harmony, rule out GPT increase: Four lawmakers, all with at least one link to local voters, answered a few prepared questions at the end of a luncheon at The Station in Central Park. All of them agreed that this past legislative session was 180-degrees from 2018, which included the teacher walk out and intense bickering over education funding. [Norman Transcript]

Dewey F. Bartlett Jr.: It ain’t rainin’, but Big Oil is pourin’ water down your back: The members of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance are proud to have led the way for a flat 7% gross production tax for all wells to pay our teachers properly. We went as far as organizing an initiative petition drive to let the voters decide. The Legislature compromised at 5% GPT for new wells. [Dewey F. Barlett Jr. / Tulsa World]

Attorney General Mike Hunter says opioid makers tried to ‘brainwash’ prescribers: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Wednesday he believes evidence has shown that Johnson & Johnson was a “kingpin” in an opioid crisis that has killed about 7,000 Oklahomans as the midpoint was reached in a Cleveland County District Court trial. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma’s final witness in opioid trial rips into drugmaker Johnson & Johnson: The final witness for the state of Oklahoma on Tuesday said Johnson & Johnson’s claims that the company bears zero responsibility for the state’s opioid epidemic are “absolutely incorrect” and “is one of the most difficult things to swallow.” [CNN] Emotional testimony was heard in court here Wednesday as Terri White, chief officer at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, defended the state’s response to an opioid abuse and addiction epidemic it blames on Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and other drug companies. [Journal Record]

SeeWorth charter school preps hand-off to OKCPS: Wednesday, SeeWorth Academy Charter School Board concluded the business necessary for turning over operation of the school to Oklahoma City Public Schools, once the sponsor of the school. Monday, July 1, a new alternative school fully within OKCPS called “SeeWorth Academy” will start preparations for the new school year under the leadership of Principal Shane Nelson. [Free Press OKC] The board of directors for Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy charter school approved a motion for an audit on a corporate account during a meeting Wednesday. [NonDoc]

New campus to triple capacity of school for homeless children: Every year, Oklahoma’s only school for homeless children has to turn children away. But with work on its new campus expected to be completed in October, Oklahoma City-based Positive Tomorrows will be able to triple the number of homeless children while expanding the grades it reaches. [Journal Record]

OKCPS board avoids ugly inter-member confrontation – for now: Most of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education members were engaged in a highly unusual inter-board struggle in the courtroom of District Judge Richard C. Ogden Monday. When they started, it was only two hours until the next regular meeting of the board, so anxious looks at the clock in the courtroom were far more frequent than usual. [Free Press OKC]

Joe Harroz spoke to Jones Day, confirms Title IX review: When it comes to the sexual misconduct investigations of former OU President David Boren, current President Joe Harroz says he “was around for the relevant time periods.” Speaking Tuesday after an OU Board of Regents meeting at the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center, Harroz revealed he was interviewed by the Jones Day law firm hired by regents and his predecessor, Jim Gallogly, to investigate allegations against Boren. [NonDoc]

Study shows Muscogee (Creek) Nation has $1 billion-plus national economic impact: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation supports 8,700 jobs and contributes more than $1.4 billion a year to the national economy, according to the tribe’s first-ever large scale economic impact study, released Wednesday morning. In Oklahoma alone, the tribe’s economic impact in 2017 reached $866 million, including $12 million provided to state and local education programs and $7.6 million for roads, bridges and other infrastructure, the tribe said. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Assuming the role of the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute is an absolute honor and I am extremely excited to join the talented OK Policy team, Together we will continue to ensure all Oklahomans have the opportunity to thrive, and I appreciate the confidence that the Board of Directors has placed in me.”

-Ahniwake Rose, OK Policy’s new Executive Director [OK Policy]

Number of the Day

6.4%

Increase in home prices in Oklahoma in the first quarter of 2019 compared to a year ago.

[Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

1 in 4 workers in U.S. don’t get any paid vacation time or holidays: The United States is the only advanced economy that does not federally mandate any paid vacation days or holidays. About one in four workers in the U.S. don’t get any paid vacation time or holidays at all. That particularly affects lower-income workers, part-time employees and small business workers. [CBS News]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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