In The Know: Why cost-cutting states are turning more friendly to teachers

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

Bill Watch: Whoa, we didn’t see that coming! Every legislative session is a mix of the expected and unexpected. Along with key bills that we’ve been tracking closely from the start, the session has also featured several pieces of less heralded legislation that were not on our — or most people’s — radar but that have now gained some steam. In this edition of our Bill Watch series, we look at some of the bills we are now paying closer attention to that have come from out of left field. [OK Policy]

In The News

Suddenly, cost-cutting states turn friendly to teachers: Schoolteacher raises of $5,000 are on the table in Texas — a proposed pay hike that ranks among the biggest in the U.S. since a wave of teacher unrest began last year. But protests aren’t why the money is suddenly available. [AP News] Lawmakers are one week from Oklahoma education funding deadline. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Five Things to Know About the Teacher Shortage: In Oklahoma, 30,000 teachers have left the profession in the past six years. That’s the eye-popping statistic that stands out in the latest Oklahoma Teacher Supply and Demand report, and it represents a loss of an average of 10 percent of the state’s teaching workforce — compared to a national average of 7.7 percent attrition. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma Legislature to resume regular workload: The Oklahoma Legislature returns to a full schedule this week after taking it easy the past 10 days. For the next three weeks, lawmakers will be shepherding Senate bills and joint resolutions through House committees and House bills and joint resolutions through Senate committees. [Tulsa World]

Effort underway to release nonviolent offenders: Colleen Johnson was stunned to learn she would be released four years early from the Oklahoma City Community Corrections Center. A life tangled in abuse and drug addiction landed the Kansas native in prison for a sentence of five years, but she was granted an early release in December by order of the governor. [NewsOK]

Federal behavioral health program that helps thousands in northeast Oklahoma set to lapse: A federal program credited with improving mental health and substance abuse treatment for thousands of northeastern Oklahomans is scheduled to expire at the end of this month, and no one seems to know exactly what will happen if it does. [Tulsa World] Markwayne Mullin: Why we need community behavioral health clinics. [Markwayne Mullin / McAlester News]

Senator says “almighty dollar” stalled bill for more nurse independence: Lobbying and “the almighty dollar” stalled a bill in the state Legislature to give more independence to nurse anesthetists, according to a key senator who vowed to press the issue again next year. “We didn’t get to have the conversation we need to have, and that’s a shame,’’ said Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud. “Yet again, the almighty dollar prevailed, and that’s a shame, too.” [NewsOK]

Digging up money for roads: Bill would allow production tax on aggregate materials: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that supporters say could be a game-changer for county commissioners and others responsible for maintaining roads and bridges, especially in rural areas. House Bill 1404 would create a gross production tax on aggregate materials like sand, gravel and granite mined in Oklahoma. [Journal Record]

Legislators grapple with school, prison bills: The Oklahoma Legislature has seen many bills come and go since the floor hearing process began, and the deadline for bills to leave their chambers of origin has passed, leaving about 810 measures still alive. The legislation still on the table will be moved to committee hearings in the opposite chamber. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Candidates for Oklahoma GOP chair want unity and the 5th District seat: Candidates running for chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party say their focus will be on unifying the party and regaining the congressional seat won by an Oklahoma City Democrat in last year’s elections. The race to succeed Pam Pollard as party chair has so far attracted one candidate from Oklahoma County and two from Tulsa County. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma youth call for gun reform at Capitol rally: Dozens of high school and college students gathered along the south side of the Oklahoma State Capitol on Saturday to demand gun reform and an end to gun violence in the state and across the country. [NewsOK]

Woman sues for workplace discrimination at OU: A former University of Oklahoma employee is suing the school’s board of regents, claiming workplace discrimination and retaliation. Dierdre Williamson has claimed age, pay and racial discrimination in a lawsuit against that moved to Oklahoma City federal court this week. [NewsOK

Cyclist’s death highlights OKC infrastructure needs: The death of a cyclist Thursday who was hit by a car along Classen Boulevard has drawn attention to the lack of cycling infrastructure outside of Oklahoma City’s growing downtown. [NewsOK]

‘Never, ever going to forget’: 180 years since the end of the Cherokee Trail of Tears: Ethnic cleansing. Genocide. Those are powerful words that many Americans might associate with other, far-off lands and times: Armenia. Bosnia. Rwanda. Nazi Germany. But historians say it also happened in this country. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa World editorial: McCall bill would give Oklahoma school teachers tax credits of up to $1,000 a year for supplies they buy for their classrooms: The state House has approved an income tax credit of up to $1,000 to reimburse school teachers for money they spend on classroom supplies. House Bill 2502, proposed by House Speaker Charles McCall, would pay back teachers for a long list of supplies, including paper, pencils, tape, construction paper and “similar supplies used and useful in a classroom” bought after Jan. 1, 2020. The simpler solution would be for the state to fund schools adequately and for public schools to turn that money around efficiently in a variety of ways, including classroom supplies. [Tulsa World]

Point of View: Program is a sound investment in Oklahoma’s future: The Oklahoma’s Promise program (then called the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program) was created by the Legislature in 1992 to encourage more students to aspire for college, prepare academically in high school and ultimately, earn college degrees. [Glen Johnson / NewsOK]

Hofmeister: Parental incarceration hurts kids: There is a heartbreaking correlation among two areas where Oklahoma ranks worst in the country: Adverse childhood experiences and incarceration. Adverse childhood experiences – which include exposure to violence, neglect and abuse, parental incarceration and divorce – carry a devastating legacy of negative outcomes in adulthood, including chronic health problems, high-risk behaviors, even early death. [Joy Hofmeister / Muskogee Phoenix]

Lori D. Franklin: Oklahoma needs more social workers: Oklahoma drastically needs more social workers. Our citizens are requiring more services than ever, and we need more social workers to meet that demand. Our field is experiencing faster-than-average growth (12 percent) compared to other professions. [Lori D. Franklin / Tulsa World]

William Kellough: Diversion from prison offers opportunity on many levels: Ten years ago, a program was created for Tulsa County women whose drug addictions and trauma all but guaranteed long prison sentences. Women in Recovery provided a unique and powerful path for prison avoidance and has helped salvage hundreds of lives. [William Kellough / Tulsa World]

Ginnie Graham: It’s never too late for Tulsa to support equal rights for women: The Tulsa City Council has a chance to be on the right side of history by approving the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment. Councilor Lori Decter Wright has proposed a resolution for a Wednesday vote that would support the ERA. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“People who say ‘get over it’ — they just really don’t understand and haven’t taken the time to educate themselves on these issues because they still impact us today. Just because history is painful, doesn’t mean you need to forget it. So much of our history is sad that at some point you’ve got to empower the people by thinking of it in terms of being resilient and celebrating that we’re still here.”

-RaeLynn Butler, Creek Nation historic and cultural preservation manager, speaking about the forced march of Indian tribes to Oklahoma [Source: Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


The number of payday loans Oklahomans took out in 2017.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How this GOP lawmaker realized Kansas should expand Medicaid: When I was first elected in 2016, I was hesitant about expanding Medicaid in Kansas, like many of my fellow Republicans. We have all heard the myths about how it would ruin our state, and I shared in those fears at first: the anxiety that it means much bigger government, with intimidating fiscal obligations that could break the bank. And what would happen if the federal government ended the program? But after studying the issue, listening to both sides and researching what other states have done, I not only voted for expansion both in 2017 and 2018 — I became an expansion advocate. [Rep. Tom Cox / Kansas City Star]

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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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