In The Know: Tulsa Race Massacre survivors bring reparations case to capitol | Lawmakers should prioritize democratic processes | Indigenous Peoples Day

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

When lawmakers prioritize democratic processes, all Oklahomans benefit: Oklahoma’s 2023 legislative session presented a chance for lawmakers to expand democracy in our state. Despite passing a few bills that will increase access to the ballot for some Oklahomans, the legislature disappointingly entertained and, in some cases, passed other bills designed to significantly limit Oklahomans’ ability to participate in the democratic process. At a time when citizens feel increasingly frustrated with the democratic process, lawmakers should be working to more deeply engage residents rather than pushing them away. [Cole Allen / OK Policy]

  • Factsheet: What to know about Online Voter Registration in Oklahoma [PDF]

State Government News

Tulsa Race Massacre survivors bring reparations case to state Capitol: A century after their homes were burned and scores of their neighbors were killed in the Tulsa Race Massacre, victims of the 1921 attack brought their case for reparations to the state Capitol for the first time on Thursday. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Little progress on Race Massacre recommendations, legislative committee told [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s death penalty system is broken, commission tells lawmakers: Oklahoma should return to a moratorium on the death penalty and implement the 46 recommendations made by the Death Penalty Review Commission, a panel of experts told state lawmakers Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

  • Execution moratorium urged during interim study [Tulsa World]

Tax Commission releases Parental Choice Tax Credit rules for public comment: The Oklahoma Tax Commission proposed its rules for the new Parental Choice Tax Credit program and opened public comment. After getting passed during the spring’s legislative session, the new private school tax credit program will provide refundable tax credits for students enrolled in private school and homeschool. [KGOU]

Lawmakers consider starting nuclear energy program in Oklahoma: Advocates urged state lawmakers to consider bringing nuclear energy technology to Oklahoma as the federal government has set aside billions in an effort to incentivize expansion efforts nationwide. [Oklahoma Voice]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Special session, House Speaker search, Ryan Walters testimony and more: The panel discusses the short special session called by Gov. Kevin Stitt to cut taxes, the search for a new U.S. House Speaker could include Tulsa Congressman Kevin Hern and State Superintendent Ryan Walters releases an education budget cutting $47 million from schools. [KOSU]

Opinion: Oklahoma democracy would work better if people knew about open meetings, records: One of the best uses of time for any public official is one of the free seminars being offered by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office in partnership with the Oklahoma Press Association. This program has been offered through the decades to educate public servants on their legal obligations for meetings and records. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Stitt’s call for sunshine in Oklahoma spending could light way for public participation: For years now, the state’s multi-billion dollar budget has largely been built behind closed doors over four months. The process evokes images of dimly lit back rooms where only a handful of select legislators — and likely influential lobbyists — determine the priorities of the entire state. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Editorial: Now isn’t the time to cut personal incomes taxes; Oklahomans need better services: On the same day the Oklahoma Legislature was ordered into special session by Gov. Kevin Stitt to consider reducing or eliminating personal income taxes, a report requested by the governor was released, stating that the child welfare system needs more workers, resources and salary. Oklahomans get the government we pay for. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Opinion: Rep. Ross Ford: Oklahoma congressional delegation can stop the federal government from grounding state’s aerospace industry: Here in Oklahoma, our aerospace industry is soaring to new heights. There are more than 1,100 aerospace firms with hubs in Oklahoma. Today, those companies support more than 206,000 jobs and drive over $44 billion into our state’s economy every year. [Rep. Ross Ford / Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Opinion: Native American Day has significant meaning in Tulsa with observances on land settled by Indigenous people: This year the city’s Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission will host the day (Oct. 9) starting at 9 a.m. at Dream Keepers Park at 21st Street and Boulder Avenue. A parade begins at 11 a.m. [Cheryl Cohenour / Tulsa World]

  • Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission to Host Native American Day Festivities Oct. 9 at Dream Keepers Park [City of Tulsa]
  • 20+ ways you can celebrate Native American Heritage Month, Indigenous Peoples Day in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Opinion: Access to mental health services 24/7 key to having successful outcomes: As we approach World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, we need to shine a light on this area of health care that has long been stigmatized. It’s time to break the silence and create a more supportive, healthy world for everyone. [Larry Smith and Josh Cantwell / Tulsa World]

Education News

Tulsa Public Schools utilizing Walk to Read help students build skills: Walk to Read is a literacy intervention approach first implemented by the district in 2021-2022 as part of its efforts to offset academic delays brought on by COVID-19. The model incorporates small groups of students who are placed together based on shared similar areas of needed improvement as demonstrated on standardized tests, such as letter recognition or blending letter sounds together. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Guest: Ryan Walters is a master of contradictions, and Oklahoma education is paying the price: Local school boards are an important way that parents are given the opportunity to have input into “what is best for their child.” Yet, Walters’ continued threats to take control of Tulsa Public Schools and, now, Western Heights school district, are attempts to remove the opportunity for parents to have a say in “what is best for their child.”  [Janis Blevins / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: It’s time for teachers to change Ryan Walters’ narrative and share positive stories: I don’t know about everyone else, but the negative messaging coming from the state schools superintendent’s office is exhausting, not to mention over exaggerated and sometimes downright false. But it doesn’t have to be. [Emily Busey-Templeton / The Oklahoman]

Opinion, Rep. John Waldron: Difference between ‘A’ and ‘F’ schools is affluence: In the next few weeks, A-F report cards for schools and school districts will be issued based on last year’s test scores and other data. But what separates an F school from an A school? What separates the schools at the top from those at the bottom? Affluence. [Rep. John Waldron / Tulsa World]

Editorial: Hitting kids in school doesn’t improve education or mental health: Oklahoma ranks No. 5 in the country of students getting hit by school officials, disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minorities. It’s legal, but it’s time to stop. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

Oklahoma film about teen depression and suicide to be released on World Mental Health Day: Kyle William Roberts spent the better part of a decade working on his sophomore feature film “What Rhymes with Reason.” Now, the Oklahoma City moviemaker is watching the teen drama get its national release on the perfect day: Oct. 10, which is World Mental Health Day. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: It’s Banned Books Week. The fight continues for kids to read, learn in Oklahoma: For the State of Oklahoma, Banned Books Week falls in a particularly poignant month. October, also 2SLGBTQ+ History Month, will mark two years since the ACLU of Oklahoma and partners filed litigation against our state’s classroom censorship law, created by the passing of HB 1775. The vague language of this law restricts what can be taught in Oklahoma classrooms regarding race and gender, placing severe limitations on what Oklahoma students are learning. [Cindy Nguyen / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Chickasaw Nation contributes $1.5 million to OKC planetarium [Journal Record]
  • Center for Nonprofits opens new headquarters in OKC [Journal Record]
  • Edmond’s Pelican Bay leaked 20,000 gallons of water each day this summer [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“The reason the commission listed the reparations for survivors and reparations for descendants … is because they were the most important thing we think that’s needed to restore what was stolen from this community and also the best way to provide justice to the descendants and the survivors.” 

-Vivian Clark-Adams, a member of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, speaking at an interim study on compensation and programs for victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Number of states with holidays – either official or designated – that honor Native Americans on the second Monday in October, which is also recognized as Columbus Day in many places. Oklahoma’s Native American Day was signed into law in 2019, and it is observed by the state alongside Columbus Day. [Pew Research] | [The Oklahoman]

Policy Note

Goodbye, Columbus? Here’s what Indigenous Peoples’ Day means to Native Americans (2022): Indigenous Peoples’ Day advocates say the recognition helps correct a “whitewashed” American history that has glorified Europeans like Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who have committed violence against Indigenous communities. Native Americans have long criticized the inaccuracies and harmful narratives of Columbus’ legacy that credited him with his “discovery” of the Americas when Indigenous people were there first. [NPR]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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