In The Know: Teacher Shortage Task Force sends requests to Legislature

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

Teacher Shortage Task Force sends incentives, recruiting requests to Legislature: Teachers seeking certification in Oklahoma would not have to pay for costly exams, and the tests would be waived for out-of-state teachers regardless of experience under recommendations made by a group studying the teacher shortage. A preliminary report was issued Thursday at a meeting of the Teacher Shortage Task Force and presented Friday to legislative leaders [Tulsa World]. You can read the full report here.

Topic of education spending heating up ahead of budget talks, legislative session: Education spending is a hot topic ahead of the new legislative session and midyear adjustments, which are expected to result in cuts for local schools. Moore Public Schools just released a slickly edited YouTube video titled “Breaking the Silence,” which has already been viewed 158,000 times. Over the course of 12 minutes, 15 teachers and administrators take turns sharing their struggles in and out of the classroom, as well as their concerns for the state of public education in Oklahoma [Tulsa World].

Fox 25 Special Report: the State of Education: From the teacher shortage, to freedom in the classroom, schools across Oklahoma are suffering as the state looks for solutions. Our journey begins in Alex, Oklahoma, as we head into the trenches, where teachers serve as the front lines of the education emergency. Schools today are called on to do more with less, especially in districts like Alex [Fox25].

Tax Cuts Exacerbating Oklahoma’s Bust-Driven Budget Crisis: Even as Oklahoma’s economy was roaring thanks to an oil boom, Sarah Dougherty watched in disbelief as the Tulsa elementary school her children attend expanded class sizes and eliminated teachers because costly tax cuts and incentives ate up much of the surplus revenue. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and the GOP-led Legislature pushed through the latest cut, a quarter-point reduction in the top income tax rate, two years ago when $100-a-barrel crude buoyed the state’s coffers [Associated Press].

Would expanding the Rainy Day Fund help Oklahoma’s revenue problems?: Rep. Jon Echols (R-OKC) has said he plans to propose a constitutional amendment to remove the cap on how much of current revenues can be deposited into the Constitutional Reserve Fund which is sometimes called the state savings account or “Rainy Day Fund.” The rainy day fund was set up by constitutional amendment in 1985 so in times of a negative economy the state would have savings to draw on for needed public services [OK Policy].

Norman city councilman pleads not guilty in asset seizure case: A city councilman charged with drug crimes related to his employment at a pipe shop pleaded not guilty Friday and immediately posted a $2,500 bond to be released. Holman says the Dec. 1 raid by Norman police and the resulting charges are likely politically-motivated. Holman, who has considered running for mayor, questioned police use of civil forfeiture funds at a city council meeting in August [NewsOK]. Before Norman City Council Member Stephen Tyler Holman was charged with a felony in connection with a raid on Friendly Market, he was an outspoken critic of civil asset forfeiture [Norman Transcript]. Oklahoma’s current forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to seize property without proving guilt of the owner [OK Policy].

Will the Holtzclaw Case Lead to Long-Term Changes?: In one sense, the case against former Oklahoma City Police Officer Dan Holtzclaw was simple, though chilling. A police officer, working the low-income neighborhoods of his beat, used the power of his position to commit a series of sexual assaults against vulnerable women. To some on predominantly black northeast side, the concept of what Holtzclaw was able to do suggests larger injustices that a city, celebrated for its rise from economic ashes, needs to address [Oklahoma Watch].

Medicare payments cut at 13 Oklahoma hospitals: Medicare reimbursement payments to 13 Oklahoma hospitals were cut 1 percent this federal fiscal year because they ranked poorly in preventing certain hospital-acquired infections and other medical complications. The OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma State University Medical Center in Tulsa and Tulsa Spine & Specialty Hospital were among the Oklahoma hospitals whose Medicare reimbursement rates were trimmed 1 percent as of Oct. 1 [Tulsa World].

Ethics Commission questions Democrats’ proposed rule change: Commission Executive Director Lee Slater read the proposed changes, which include amendments to gifts and spending on public officials. Slater also said the rules would essentially deregulate lobbyists while focusing more on principals – the entities that hire lobbyists. The rule would eliminate non-meal gifts but still would allow commendations such as trophies, certificates and plaques, Slater said [Journal Record].

Tribe provides early education for children in poverty: Catie Hamilton’s mother wanted the best for her children. When Hamilton was a toddler, her mother worked as a licensed practical nurse at a nursing home. She worked long, late hours to provide for Hamilton and her brother. Since the family lived on only her mother’s income, Hamilton qualified to enroll in the Chickasaw Nation’s Head Start program when she was 4 years old. The program offered her the educational enrichment her mother didn’t have time to provide [Journal Record]. In one of the poorest counties in the state, the Cherokee Nation runs an early childhood education center for children younger than 4 years old [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“For the Cherokee Nation, an investment in early childhood development and education is an investment in our future. Creating generations of Cherokee Nation citizens who have greater access to critical thinking, as well as exposure to language and math principles, will result in healthier and more productive citizens as adults.”

-Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., on why the tribe is investing in child development centers for children younger than 4 years old (Source)

Number of the Day


The salary of mid-career teachers (age 45) in Oklahoma compared to similarly situated non-teachers.

Source: Oklahoma Teacher Shortage Task Force

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Charging Inmates Perpetuates Mass Incarceration: At least a few localities in nearly every state in the country authorize “pay-to-stay” fees on prisoners for everything from medical costs, to food, to clothes. These fees are difficult for the often indigent prisoners and their families to pay, and can make successful reentry into society near impossible for some [Brennan Center for Justice]. 

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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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