In The Know: New laws go into effect | Implementing community schools would better serve child well-being in Oklahoma | Oklahoma’s 2 largest school districts now both led by Black women, a first in state history

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Implementing community schools would better serve child well-being in Oklahoma (Capitol Update): The recent 2024 KIDS COUNT® Data Book – published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and its state partner the Oklahoma Policy Institute – is not good news for Oklahoma. The report is a national and state-by-state comparison of child well-being. Oklahoma ranked 46th overall. There are likely many explanations. Among the solutions suggested by the report is more investment in community schools. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Notable new laws go into effect today in Oklahoma: What to know about cursive, immigration: From immigration bans to mandatory cursive handwriting, Oklahomans saw tons of proposed bills circulate through the news cycle during the 2024 legislative session. Here’s a look at some notable bills going into effect Monday, July 1. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma lawmaker promises to address ‘archaic’ election practice: A county in Southern Oklahoma just picked its new sheriff by pulling a name out of a bucket. Now, a state lawmaker has promised new legislation to change the state’s procedures for tied elections. [KOSU]

Shift in command: Retired admiral to take over embattled Oklahoma veterans department: The Oklahoma Veterans Commission announced Monday the selection of another retired admiral to head the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency embroiled in controversy since 2023. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

Federal judge stops Oklahoma immigration law from taking effect, Latino community reacts: A federal judge said Friday that Oklahoma’s new immigration law cannot take effect because it undermines federal authority by allowing local police to engage in immigration enforcement. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Muscogee Language Dictionary App supplements learning resources: A new Muscogee language dictionary is now available for your smartphone. Two authors, an application developer and language speaker teamed up to bring the Muscogee Language Dictionary App to mobile devices, supplementing language learning and preservation efforts. [KOSU]

Voting and Election News

Former board alternate sues Oklahoma State Election Board: A former Oklahoma County Election Board alternate is suing the Oklahoma State Election Board after it alleged she made false claims. Jenni White was fired from her alternate position on the Oklahoma County Election Board in February after questioning the absentee ballot counting process. Former member Cheryl Williams was also removed. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Oklahoma City demonstrates progress for mental health services in new report: Oklahoma City is increasingly diverting mental health calls to crisis response teams, rather than to police officers, according to a recently released report. From October 2023 to May 2024, the city reported a 27% reduction in mental health-related calls dispatched to the field, dropping from 1,361 to 990, according to the recently released Transformation Progress Report. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Senators say they weren’t involved in prison contract negotiations despite DOC claim: Although Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Steven Harpe told members of the corrections board last week that several state lawmakers were part of the team that helped negotiate a new contract with the GEO Group, at least two of those lawmakers said they had no knowledge of any meetings and were not involved in any negotiations with the GEO Group. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Camping Bans Found Constitutional Despite Lack of Shelters: Punishing people experiencing homelessness for sleeping outdoors is not cruel and unusual punishment, even if too few shelter beds are available, the United States Supreme Court said Friday after reviewing City of Grants Pass v. Johnson et al. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economy & Business News

$51 million federal tech grant could bring up to 56,000 new jobs to Tulsa: Tulsa will receive about $51 million from the federal government for tech innovations and production projected to create up to 56,000 additional jobs in the next 10 years, officials said. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Divisive order showcases Oklahoma’s push for more Christian religion in schools: Ryan Walters’ directive that Oklahoma public schools should teach from the Bible raised more questions than it answered. Put simply, Walters wants a Bible in every public school classroom, and for every teacher to give lessons from the Bible. [The Oklahoman]

Former Barresi aide, failed Tulsa school board candidate appointed to statewide charter school board: A former aide to State Superintendent Janet Barresi and a failed Tulsa school board candidate have just been appointed to the state governing board that could help decide the next legal steps in the fate of a proposed Catholic charter school whose case may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s 2 largest school districts now both led by Black women, a first in state history: Oklahoma reached a new milestone on Monday with a new superintendent taking office in Oklahoma City Public Schools. For the first time, Black women are simultaneously leading the state’s two largest school districts, OKCPS and Tulsa Public Schools. [Oklahoma Voice]

Community News

Looking forward and back as the Civil Rights Act turns 60: It’s been 60 years since the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Many have cited its impact and other federal laws that came in its wake, including one protecting the right to vote for all citizens and another banning discrimination in housing. [AP/ The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“It is our shared belief that every child should see themselves represented in the educators and leaders who guide them in their educational journey.”

-Jamie Polk, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent said in response to the history-making appointments of two Black women selected to lead Oklahoma’s two largest school districts, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Ebony Johnson became the first Black woman to lead the Tulsa Public Schools as superintendent last December.  Research has shown a positive impact on minority students’ test scores and long-term outcomes when they have a teacher of their same race. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Percentage of white U.S. households that receive benefits in the first year that a corporate tax break goes into effect. This is disproportionate to the the 67 percent of U.S. households that are white. In contrast, Black and Hispanic households, comprising 12 percent and 9 percent of U.S. households respectively, each receive only 1 percent of the benefits that remain in the U.S. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

Policy Note

Who Benefits and Who Pays: How Corporate Tax Breaks Drive Inequality: Policies that provide corporate tax breaks and allow corporate tax avoidance exacerbate racial and income disparities in our economy. These policies limit revenue raised that could finance public investments that benefit everyone. They also shift the distribution of income in favor of the owners of corporate assets, who are disproportionately wealthy and white. Finally, corporate tax policies funnel resources to foreign investors who own a large portion of shares in U.S. corporations. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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Kandis West is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Communications Director for the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus. She spent nine years in the Olympia/Tacoma area of Washington organizing compensation campaigns for teachers for the Washington Education Association. Kandis has a proven track record of increasing community engagement, public awareness and media exposure around the most pressing issues that impact citizens. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism.