In The Know: Oklahoma Supreme Court clears path for November vote on sales tax initiative for education

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 Supreme Court clears path for November vote on sales tax initiative for education: The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday that clears the way for Oklahomans to vote this November on whether to increase the state sales tax by 1 cent per dollar to pay for $5,000 teacher pay increases and other educational purposes. Supreme Court justices ordered modifications to the ballot title to eliminate bias and make the purposes of the sales tax initiative more clear, but rejected a court challenge that could have kept the issue off the November ballot [NewsOK]. Read our statement on the proposal here.

Academic standards, tests discussed as Hofmeister launches town hall series on new federal education law: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on Monday said the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act will ensure greater state autonomy over public education matters, and many changes are still in store. At Broken Arrow High School, Hofmeister hosted the first of a series of required stakeholder input events at “EngageOK on the Road,” the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s annual summer education conference [Tulsa World]. ESSA maintains annual testing and reforms teacher evaluations [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City school board set to consider charter school expansion: Charter school expansion is back in play, and supporters of KIPP Reach Academy say they are in a much better position heading into Monday night’s Oklahoma City School Board meeting. In recent days, a group of elected officials, business leaders and community activists has met individually with school board members and Superintendent Aurora Lora to address concerns or misconceptions about the high-performing middle school [NewsOK]. The school board approved a modified charter school expansion [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City schools working to hire 100 teachers: The district says they’ll work to get emergency certifications for qualified people who didn’t go to school for a teaching degree to fill those spots. The hiring push comes after deep budget cuts and layoffs that caused students to walk out of school straight to the Capitol [KOCO].

Time for Oklahoma to off the runoff: When August 23rd rolls around next month, you can be sure that lots of things will be on Oklahomans’ minds: kids going back to school, the upcoming Labor Day weekend, and the start of college football season, to name a few. What probably won’t be on the minds of most Oklahomans are the primary runoff elections that will be held in a handful of districts across the state that day [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City streets may be focus of next MAPS initiative: The next MAPS could become part of a full-court press to repair crumbling streets. Mayor Mick Cornett said last week MAPS 3’s successor looks to be “something to improve our streets.” Voters could be asked to extend the 1-cent MAPS sales tax at the same time they consider renewing Oklahoma City’s borrowing authority for street, drainage and parks projects [NewsOK].

When Outsourcing Works: Many public services are now outsourced. From education and transit to garbage pickup and park maintenance, there’s a notion that nongovernmental organizations can do things better. Certainly, privatization has seen its share of successes and failures. But one of those successes is economic development — at least in Oklahoma City. Since the beginning, economic development in Oklahoma City has been handled not by a public entity as in many cities, but by the Chamber of Commerce [Governing].

Tulsa Talks event on police violence set for Tuesday evening: Greenwood Cultural Center will host Tulsa Talks: Beyond Conversation on Police Violence with local law enforcement agency leaders on Tuesday evening. DeVon Douglass, a policy analyst with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, will moderate the 6 p.m. panel that follows up on a previous Tulsa Talks forum that was community-based and drew hundreds of people to the Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“The conversations happening because of State Question 779 are long overdue. This campaign will continue to talk about the importance of giving our teachers a pay raise and investing in our schools because we can no longer allow public education to be dismantled brick by brick.”

– OU President David Boren on the proposed sales tax increase for education (Source). Read our statement on the proposal here.

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma adults who received dental services 2013-2014, the 2nd lowest in the US (tied with Mississippi)

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

For Detroit’s Children, More School Choice but Not Better Schools: On the face of it, Ana Rivera could have had almost any choice when it came to educating her two sons. For all the abandoned buildings and burned-down houses in her neighborhood in the southwest part of this city, national charter school companies had seen a market and were setting up shop within blocks of each other, making it easier to find a charter school than to buy a carton of milk. But hers became the story of public education in a city grasping for its comeback: lots of choice, with no good choice [New York 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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