In The Know: As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City

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.

Today In The News

As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City: Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools are segregated at the same rate black students were before a court- ordered desegregation plan that bused black students to white schools. In 1970, a year before busing began, 71 percent of black students in the district attended a school with black enrollment of 70 percent or higher. Last year, 71 percent of Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools attended a school with Hispanic enrollment of 70 percent or higher, according to The Oklahoman’s analysis of data provided by the district [NewsOK].

Teacher union president’s observances about OKC school district merit attention: Aurora Lora, named superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools in July, has said many times that she plans to stick around awhile. It’s safe to say Ed Allen, head of the local teachers union, hopes that’s the case. This isn’t solely because Allen likes what he has seen from Lora during her two-plus years in Oklahoma City (she was assistant superintendent before getting the top job). Instead, it’s because he believes the district badly needs a long-term leader to effect the sort of change that is needed [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid: It’s well known that state aid funding in Oklahoma has struggled in recent years — since 2008 we’ve cut per student state aid by 24.2 percent after inflation, the largest drop in the U.S. Cuts to state aid affect all school districts in the state, but not all districts are affected equally. Because state aid to local districts is based on a formula that takes into account the needs of students and the local resources of districts to fund themselves, the amount per student that’s funded by the state varies widely between districts. In the 2015-2016 school year, aid went from a low of $16 to a high of $7,740 per student [OK Policy].

Family of Terence Crutcher calls for criminal charges, urges peaceful protests: The family of Terence Crutcher and their lawyers are calling for criminal charges in his death, requesting to see his body and asking that any protests to be peaceful, they said at a news conference Monday afternoon. Four attorneys and Crutcher’s twin sister, Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, shared their reactions to police video and audio of the fatal officer-involved shooting and updated the public on the next steps in the legal process [Tulsa World]. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said the case could result in criminal charges, but people must give the investigation time. U.S. Attorney Danny Williams said the Department of Justice has opened a separate and independent civil rights investigation that will run parallel to the state’s probe and evaluate the officer’s use of force and determine whether a federal civil rights violation occurred [Tulsa World]. The have been 24 officer-involved fatal shootings by Tulsa police and 162 statewide since 2007 [Tulsa World].

When a Policy Alone Is Not Enough: In his first eight sessions as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Kris Steele paid scant attention to crime and punishment. But, in 2008, Steele’s work on the state budget put Oklahoma’s prison system in his sights for the first time. What he saw, he says, “puzzled and dismayed” him. Annual prison spending approached half a billion dollars and, that decade alone, was in the midst of a 41 percent growth spurt, fueled by a quadrupling of prisoners since 1978. For all that spending, though, the prisons were overcrowded, understaffed, and woefully out of date, with pressure building to pour even more money into them [TakePart].

Asset forfeiture reform plan gets attorney general’s support: Those who want to make it harder for police to seize money and property from suspects before conviction now have a powerful ally, Oklahoma’s chief legal officer, Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Sen. Kyle Loveless, who has been a staunch backer of asset forfeiture reform, is hoping Pruitt’s support will help him get past the finish line with legislation on this topic in next year’s legislative session. Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, is in discussions with law enforcement to see if consensus can be reached. He views Pruitt’s support as key [Oklahoman]. Unlikely allies have come together seeking reform of civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

A Conversation about Women in the Legislature: The voices of women in the Oklahoma Legislature are relatively faint: With 21 serving, they make up only 14.1 percent of legislators, although women comprise more than half of the state’s population. In a comparison of legislatures by gender makeup by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oklahoma ranked second lowest in percentage of lawmakers who are women, tied with South Carolina. Wyoming was last. Reps. Elise Hall, R-Oklahoma City, and Emily Virgin, D-Norman, were elected to the Oklahoma Legislature in 2011 at a young age: Hall was 22, and Virgin was 25. Their experiences speak to the challenges and potential for women to take up more seats on the state House and Senate floors [Oklahoma Watch].

Quake frequency declines, seismic energy in Oklahoma climbs: As “Earthquake!” became a household term in Oklahoma, the temblors normally associated with California or Japan produced more questions than answers. Scientists across Oklahoma are working to learn more about why the Sooner State is moving and shaking. Oklahoma Geological Survey, a state research and public service agency affiliated with the University of Oklahoma Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, has almost 20 studies underway to learn more about earthquakes and what causes them, especially in the Arbuckle Formation [Enid News & Eagle].

Canadian County struggles to keep up with growth: Drive down any street in Piedmont, and it won’t be long before you see one of the most obvious symbols of the city’s rapid population growth. Just hope it doesn’t leave you with a blowout. “The streets out here are just horrible,” said Jason Orr, city manager in Piedmont. “We don’t have the money to fix them at all.” Canadian County was Oklahoma’s fastest-growing county last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 Annual Population Estimates. Piedmont saw the most growth in the county, ballooning by 23.1 percent between 2014 and 2015, estimates show. But after years of rapid growth, Piedmont and other communities in the county are struggling to keep up with steadily increasing demands for services [Oklahoman].

Quote of the Day

“I’m pushing for not only a march or a meeting, I’m pushing for a seat at the table where we can affect change in the policies and the culture of the police versus the community.”

-Rodney Goss, a pastor at the Morning Star Baptist Church in north Tulsa, speaking about the African-American community’s response to the police shooting of Terence Crutcher (Source).

Number of the Day


Number of opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma in 2014.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Expanding Medicaid Can Lower Insurance Premiums for All: The Obama administration for years has been pleading with states to expand their Medicaid programs and offer health coverage to low-income people. Now it has a further argument in its favor: Expansion of Medicaid could lower insurance prices for everyone else. A new study published by in-house researchers at the Department of Health and Human Services compared places that have expanded their Medicaid programs as part of Obamacare with neighboring places that have not. They found that, in 2015, insurance in the marketplace for middle-income people cost less in the places that had expanded Medicaid [New York Times].

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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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