In The Know: Oklahoma superintendent vows to fight for $5K teacher raises

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

Oklahoma superintendent vows to fight for $5K teacher raises: Oklahoma’s state superintendent said a ballot measure to increase taxes to fund teacher pay increases isn’t ideal, but she’ll support it to address the state’s shrinking pool of educators. Speaking Wednesday in Owasso, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the Legislature should have increased teacher salaries last session, rather than leaving it to voters. The proposal, which is on the November ballot, calls for a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund higher education and $5,000 pay increases for teachers [Tulsa World]. Our statement on SQ779 is available here.

Judge Denies Betty Shelby’s Request For Special Arraignment In Crutcher Death: A judge denied a request for a special arraignment for Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby. Shelby is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, September 30, 2016, in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. She’s charged with 1st-degree manslaughter in the case. Her attorney filed a motion in Tulsa County District Court on Thursday morning, requesting the arraignment be moved up a day [NewsOn6]. It is unknown whether immediate medical attention might have saved Crutcher or at least offered him a fighting chance. But the perceived lack of quick action by police sparked initial uproar similar to that carried by the lethal shot itself [Tulsa World].

‘Born Sober,’ But Always Plentiful: How Oklahoma Got Its Liquor Laws: Oklahomans are considering some of the biggest changes to the state’s liquor laws since the end of prohibition. If approved, State Question 792 would amend the state constitution and alter a system with roots planted during the days of Indian Territory. Oklahoma’s liquor laws can make outsiders do a double-take. Low-point beer. No refrigeration at liquor stores, which are closed on Sundays. Looking for wine at a grocery store? Forget it [KGOU]. Information about Oklahoma’s 2016 State Questions is available here

AG Scott Pruitt defends revisions on state questions that some deem controversial: Attorney General Scott Pruitt last week rebuked criticism of his revisions to four ballot measures. Pruitt said his job is to explain the measure. “The process is very, very important,” Pruitt said. “I take it very seriously. We work hard at it.” He said critics of his revisions want the measures to pass. “They think my job is to market the initiative,” Pruitt said. “That is not my job. My job is to explain the effect of it.” [Tulsa World]

Prosecutors, reform leaders clash over state question to reduce drug possession offenses to misdemeanors: Some Oklahoma prosecutors are speaking out against State Question 780, which would reduce drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. A person could be convicted over and over on a misdemeanor drug charge, and it would never become a felony. “I will have a conversation with a family with a guy who’s been six times in the county jail for meth, and then he kills somebody. And, I will have to tell them, if the law hadn’t change, I might could have stopped this guy,” said District Attorney Greg Mashburn [KFOR].

Political candidates answer mental health focused questions at forum: Mental Health Coalition of Enid hosted a political forum Wednesday evening with Senate District 19 candidates and the House District 40 incumbent and candidate. Candidates answered questions ranging from opioid overdose to medical transportation. The 11 questions were prearranged and removed from a closed box by moderator Alan Clepper. The final question was provided by the audience and pre-screened by the coalition [Enid News].

Where Mental Health Depends on Finding a Ride: There was a time in Carol Barnes’ life when the prospect of losing her car would have worsened her already severe anxiety and depression. When she was struggling with her disorders during the mid-2000s, Barnes said, losing her only means of transportation would have meant losing access to her mental health providers. …Transportation is often one of the biggest barriers for those in rural areas seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment, according to rural mental-health workers interviewed by Oklahoma Watch [Oklahoma Watch].

Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington, Sadler Arts in Muskogee among four Oklahoma schools with National Blue Ribbon recognition: Four Oklahoma schools, including one in Tulsa and one in Muskogee, were recognized by the U.S. secretary of education Thursday as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2016, putting them among 329 schools nationwide to receive the award this year. Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Sadler Arts Academy in Muskogee, L. Mendel Rivers Elementary School in Altus and Northwood Elementary School in Piedmont received the recognition based on “overall academic excellence,” according to a news release [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City Public Schools expands its advanced placement program: Convincing Southeast High School student Heidy Briones to enroll in advanced placement courses was easy. Before she began her freshman year, Briones asked a recent graduate how they secured college admission. The answer was simple: Enroll in the high school’s advanced placement courses. “If you have someone you look up to in high school, you will take the same path,” said Briones, now a senior, as she explained her approach to high school academics [Oklahoma Gazette].

Data show higher education’s value, priorities: Recent public statements have included erroneous data about Oklahoma’s state system of higher education. I believe Oklahomans want and deserve the facts. Despite what some will say, as state support for a college education continues to drop, more of the cost shifts to parents and students. As a result, a college education could become out of reach for some Oklahomans — at a time when a college degree has never been more valuable [Glen D. Johnson / Tulsa World]. The link between education levels and state prosperity is clear [OK Policy].

Schiedel signs off at OETA: The executive director and general manager of the state’s Public Broadcasting Service network has resigned, OETA’s board of directors announced Thursday. Dan Schiedel told the board in a letter Monday that he plans to explore other professional opportunities, Chairman Garrett King said. Mark Norman, the station’s current vice president of technology, has been named interim director until the board chooses a successor. Friday is Schiedel’s last day at the network [Journal Record].

Drought spreading across Oklahoma, U.S. Drought Monitor indicates: The U.S. Drought Monitor says drought-stricken areas are spreading across Oklahoma. The monitor more than 19 percent of the state is in moderate drought, including metropolitan Tulsa, other parts of northeastern Oklahoma and southern Oklahoma. In addition, more than 3 percent of the state is in severe drought, particularly some eastern and south central Oklahoma counties [Tulsa World].

Why a Remote Corner of Oklahoma’s Panhandle Might Be The Perfect Place to Throw a Star Party: The Oklahoma Panhandle is empty and hard to get to. The region attracts few people, very little industry and none of the light pollution that accompany both. It’s a remote location that’s earning a national reputation as the perfect spot to stare deep into space. Terry Zimmerman adjusts the eyepiece on the 12.5-inch f5 Dobsonian he built from a kit — technical talk for a telescope that’s so tall, you have to climb a stepladder to take a peek. “Right now I’ve got it set on M13,” he says, focusing the scope on the globular cluster of stars in the constellation Hercules. “It looks like a snowball or a popcorn ball.” [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Quote of the Day

“Is that ideal? I don’t think it’s ideal. I think it’s long overdue. And it is with regret that we have not been able to do that sooner.”

– State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister, on State Question 779, the proposed penny sales tax increase to be used in part to give teachers a raise (Source). Our statement on SQ779 is available here. You can learn more about State Questions on the ballot in  November here.

Number of the Day


Number of same-sex couples in Oklahoma who are raising children

Source: Williams Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Skipping Meals, Joining Gangs: How Teens Cope Without Enough Food At Home: When Lanarion Norwood Jr. was 9 years old, he opened his family’s refrigerator to find it almost empty. His grandmother, unemployed because of disability, had run out of food for the month. So Norwood did what many young children adamantly resist: He went to bed early. Sleeping, he reasoned, would help him suppress hunger, and he knew the next day he could eat at his Atlanta school. That memory is one of Norwood’s earliest recollections of being hungry, but not his last. As a teenager, his food concerns grew with his appetite. “I would plan out my meal[s],” Norwood says, now a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta [NPR].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoma superintendent vows to fight for $5K teacher raises

  1. Because the family of person killed by the misdemeanor meth murderer will be too overcome with grief to respond properly to DA Mashburn, here’s something that the family members can make into a laminated hand-out to give him at that moment:

    “Because you and your self-interested and deluded fellow archangels among OK prosecutors insisted on using prisons overwhelmingly to deal with public safety unlike other states that had far better reductions in crime with far less prison, the money for treatment programs and for better community support for meth addicts went lacking, leading to the death of our loved one. In your quest for reelection and more power, prestige, and professional standing among your equally fermented colleagues, you continued to invoke the least effective public policy mechanism for keeping victimization low. Had you been even slightly intelligent and informed, much less truly concerned, about what works and doesn’t in stopping crime and turning addicts into violent criminals, we and other Oklahomans every year would never have to hear the blathering, self-serving spew that has kept this state one of the most crime-prone and public safety-deficient of all the states in this country. Our loved one would very likely still be here if not for you and your colleagues, and your inability to even comprehend how that could be possible would in a decent world serve as your disqualification for ever being allowed to touch any kind of public policy. Thank you and don’t let the door hit you.”

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