In The Know: Minority students set to become new majority in Oklahoma schools

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

Minority students set to become new majority in Oklahoma schools: At a recent school event, the principal of Lee Elementary told a joke about the new school year’s super hero theme, but it failed to elicit a response from Rogero Romero. When the principal paused in her speech, Romero turned his head to the left and listened as an interpreter translated the joke into Spanish, which resulted in a wide grin from Romero as he patted the head of his granddaughter, who will begin prekindergarten next week at this south Oklahoma City school [NewsOK].

An Oklahoma Agenda for Broad-Based Prosperity: Years of shrinking funding have undermined Oklahoma’s most important public investments in education, public health and safety, and other core services. At the same time, Oklahoma families are living in an economy marked by limited access to good-paying jobs, persistent poverty, and lack of upward mobility, even before a weakening oil and gas industry made the situation worse. In response to this continuing crisis in our state, we’ve published a new policy agenda for Oklahoma that can help turn these negative trends around [OK Policy].

Tulsa Talks organizer works to effect change with community input: DeVon Douglass did something last week in a Tulsa public meeting about race relations that needs to be commended. She brought a laugh. From everyone. She kept control of the microphone. She stopped booing and meandering stories. Just when things got a bit intense, she bit through the tension to steer everything back to a productive pace [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

Glanz’s name dropped from Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office training center: Former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s name is being removed from the official name of a $2.4 million training facility that was to have been his crowning achievement after three decades as the county’s top law officer. County commissioners agreed to the change Monday morning at the recommendation of Sheriff Vic Regalado, who said a survey of his department revealed “overwhelming” support for dropping Glanz from the building’s name [Tulsa World].

Four Oklahoma City-area teachers among finalists for state award: Four teachers from the Oklahoma City metro area are in the running to be the state’s top teacher. They were among 12 educators named finalists for 2017 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year on Monday during the EngageOK summer education conference. Rebecka Binion, a fifth-grade teacher at Linwood Elementary in the Oklahoma City school district, called it a “huge honor to get to represent the profession and what we’re doing every day” [NewsOK].

New program gives poor offenders a get out of jail free card: The criminal justice system can be a cruel revolving door for the poor. It can be costly for taxpayers as well. A program put in place by the public defender’s office and judges is making the process easier, and more affordable, for the poor and at the same time easing some of the costs of holding defendants in jail. The justice system rarely moves quickly. But in the case of the poor, it can be glacial [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

DHS backs off closing area offices: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has backed off from the possibility of closing DHS offices in several counties and there are no plans to revive the idea at this time. That’s according to state DHS spokesman Mark Beutler. “We have decided at this time we will not be closing any offices,” Beutler said [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise].

Oklahoma Struggles With The Success Of Its Renewables Tax Policy: Oklahoma currently provides a zero-emissions tax credit in the amount of $5/MWh of electricity generated using renewable energy resources from a zero-emission facility such as a wind turbine (or approximately 20% of the federal production tax credit, which is currently $23/MWh). The credit is available during the 10-year period following the date the facility is placed in operation and is refundable up to 85% of its face amount [North American Wind Power].

Oklahoma democrats join thousands in Philadelphia: Many democrats from Oklahoma have joined thousands of others in Philadelphia gearing up for the party’s national convention. They will spend the week trying to counter the attacks made last week by the Republicans, and also deliver a message of party unity. The leak of emails from the Democratic Party Headquarters shows an attempt to support Hillary Clinton and to derail Bernie Sanders’ campaign [KSWO].

Quote of the Day

“When I worked for Senator Nickles, he was still working on bills from when he first got there, 19 years earlier, whereas when I was with [Mayor Bill LaFortune], he said ‘We’re going to have a Vision Summit’ and then three years later the BOK is under construction. The velocity of change is so much greater at the local level. Nationally, it’s philosophical. Locally, it’s tangible.”

-Tulsa Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum (Source)

Number of the Day


The number of Oklahoma women per 100,000 killed by firearms in 2014, 2nd highest in US.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In Search of the Felon-Friendly Workplace: Rick Plowman’s business, installing suspended ceilings in offices, schools and hotels, could use new blood. But hiring is tough, he tells the man sitting in his office. The 20-somethings he sees haven’t had the work ethic, haven’t had the hustle. The man listening, Scott Anders, is a federal probation officer — and he spots the opening he came for: He pitches Mr. Plowman on the notion of hiring more ex-cons. “What we really want is just for them to have an opportunity to interview with you,” Mr. Anders says [NY Times].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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