In The Know: New Oklahoma school board takes over charter oversight, Catholic school Court order | How Indigenous Oklahomans are leading movement to improve 2SLGBTQ youth well-being | What are community schools?

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

What are community schools? (Capitol Update): Community schools represent a place-based strategy in which schools partner with community agencies and allocate resources to provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

New Oklahoma school board takes over charter oversight, Catholic school Court order: The Statewide Charter School Board will oversee seven virtual charter schools and four brick-and-mortar charter schools in Oklahoma. It also takes on the mantle of carrying out a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling rejecting what would have been the nation’s first Catholic charter school. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • New board says St. Isidore’s state contract to stay while lawsuit works through courts [KOSU]
  • New state board puts off compliance with state Supreme Court order on St. Isidore Catholic charter school [Tulsa World]
  • New board takes no action on court order to rescind contract with Catholic charter school [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Charter School Board chooses inaction on controversial religious school contract [The Journal Record]

State Government News

Interim executive director named for Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering: The Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering announced Michelle McFarland will oversee the agency’s operations as it continues to search for a permanent leader. [Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

Opinion: Biden’s new mandate ignores a crisis that has befallen the long-term care profession: The “solutions” proposed by the federal government can still send shivers down our spines. The most recent and frightening example of government sabotage disguised as technocratic problem-solving is President Joe Biden’s sweeping new hiring mandates on nursing homes. [Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell / The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

How Indigenous Oklahomans are leading movement to improve 2SLGBTQ youth well-being: Kendra Wilson-Clements knew from an early age that she had to hide who she was. Wilson-Clements is Choctaw and Two-Spirit and grew up in a strict religious household with South Baptist and Mennonite influences. Wilson-Clements’s rocky relationship with her mother eventually caused her to turn to drugs and alcohol. Years later, Wilson-Clements is sober and using her experience to advocate for others experiencing similar situations through an organization called Cousins. [KOSU]

Arkansas racing commission issues state’s final casino permit to Cherokee Nation Entertainment: The Arkansas Racing Commission awarded the state’s final casino license to Cherokee Nation Entertainment following years of court challenges that have delayed the process. Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials described their organization as a “regional gaming powerhouse” with more than 30 years of experience. CNE, which generates about $1 billion in gross revenue, owns nine Cherokee Casinos in Oklahoma, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa and the recently acquired Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica, Miss. [Oklahoma Voice]

Oklahoma City’s First Americans Museum announces CEO: Oklahoma City’s First Americans Museum has a new leader. Kelli Mosteller is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and is currently Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program. [KOSU]

4 Oklahoma tribal nations to reduce risks with new cybersecurity grant program: More than $18.2 million will be awarded to 32 tribes across Turtle Island because of the new Tribal Cybersecurity Grant Program Awards. The program aims to empower tribal nations to stay ahead of cybersecurity and digital threats by ensuring they have the tools and resources to protect themselves from cyber vulnerabilities. [KOSU]

1839 Cherokee Meat Co. receives USDA grant, upgrades equipment: The Cherokee Nation’s work to further expand food sovereignty was aided by a new grant of nearly $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Third Oklahoma execution of 2024 scheduled for September: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has scheduled Emmanuel Littlejohn’s execution for September 26.In 1992, Littlejohn and a man named Glenn Bethany robbed an Oklahoma City convenience store and the owner, Kenneth Meers, was killed. Each man was tried and convicted of murder separately, though only Littlejohn was sentenced to death. Littlejohn has always maintained that he was not the shooter. [KOSU]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Oklahoma County home values have tripled since 2000. Here’s how much a home cost then, and now: Oklahoma County homes more than tripled in value since 2000, from an average of $74,715 to an average of $264,844 in 2023, an increase of 254% Oklahoma County Assessor Larry Stein reported this week. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Tulsa school board takes no action on uncertified adjunct teachers proposal: Tulsa Public Schools’ board did not take action Monday night on a proposed new policy that would allow for more uncertified adjunct teachers in its classrooms. [Tulsa World]

Which vaccinations do your kids need for school in Oklahoma?: All children two months of age and older must present an immunization record or file for an exemption before they are allowed to attend child care or school in Oklahoma. Here’s a list of vaccinations required in Oklahoma for each school grade. [KOSU]

When is the first day of school? Start dates for Oklahoma City metro area school districts: Though it’s still summer now, kids will soon return to school. Districts prepare this month with board meetings ahead of the Fall semester. These schools in the metro area have their 2024-25 academic calendars already posted. As parents check off school supply lists, classes start as early as Aug. 1. See the full list. [The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

Quote of the Day

“I had to suppress my identity, and so I just made it a personal commitment to really help our 2SLGBT+ youth love themselves, understand who they are, step into their identities, explore their identities and ask questions about it. When they get to speak freely about it, that’s how we get to do away with hate and these policies that we make.”

-Cousins co-founder Kendra Wilson-Clements said demonstrating how her own journey led her to form Cousins, an organization that provides a safe space for young 2SLGBTQ+ people, holding “talking circles” twice a month to come together and heal. [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Minimum cash hourly wage for most tipped workers in Oklahoma. For employers with fewer than 10 full-time employees at any one location who have gross annual sales of $100,000 or less, the basic minimum rate is $2.00 per hour. [U.S. Department of Labor]

Policy Note

Tipping is a racist relic and a modern tool of economic oppression in the South: In most of the country, workers in restaurants, bars, nail salons, barber shops, and various other service jobs are paid differently than workers in virtually all other occupations. For these workers, a large portion (in many cases all) of their take-home pay comes from gratuity or “tips” provided directly from the customer. While employers of workers in nearly all other occupations must pay at least the minimum wage, federal and most states’ laws establish a lower “subminimum wage” for tipped workers that effectively passes the responsibility for compensating these workers from their employers to their clientele. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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.