Oklahoma

Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Educators Say Legislation On Spending Flexibility Could Increase School Inequality

Superintendent of Blanchard Public Schools, Jim Beckham, says if schools used property taxes for teacher pay, there’d be big inequities from district to district.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Superintendent of Blanchard Public Schools, Jim Beckham, says if schools used property taxes for teacher pay, there’d be big inequities from district to district.

Oklahoma lawmakers have butted heads for years over how to increase funding for education, but one recurring idea has been to give schools more flexibility in spending the money they already have.

A new bill filed by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, is the most recent attempt to do this.

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Authorities Investigating Oklahoma Rig Explosion, Deadliest U.S. Drilling Accident In Years

Inspectors and emergency crews surveying damage at Patterson-UTI's rig 219, which exploded and caught fire Jan. 22.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Inspectors and emergency crews surveying damage at Patterson-UTI's rig 219, which exploded and caught fire Jan. 22.

Federal and state authorities are investigating the cause of the deadly explosion and fire at a natural gas drilling rig in southeastern Oklahoma on Monday.  Five workers died in what appears to be one of the country’s deadliest onshore drilling accidents. Continue Reading

How Increasing The Minimum Wage Could Lead To Healthier Babies

Baby Jacob weighs 7.14 pounds - some infants aren't as lucky.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact

Baby Jacob weighs 7.14 pounds - some infants aren't as lucky.

Jacob is just a few hours old when registered nurse Amy Burnett begins one of the simplest measurements to tell if a newborn is healthy — their weight.

“You want to make sure that they are naked, they have no diaper, and you bring him to the scale,” she says as she removes his tiny Pampers.

She gently picks him up, confidently balancing his body on her forearm like a football. Her purple gloved fingers encircle his neck as she hits a button on the scale, which beeps loudly, zeroing it out.

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Research on Tulsa Program Suggests Statewide Pre-K Has Long-Term Benefits

Preschool teacher, Irene Castell, works on counting with a small group of students.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Preschool teacher, Irene Castell, works on counting with a small group of kids.

Kids are scattered around the preschool classroom at Zarrow International School in Tulsa. It’s loud and chaotic, but it’s organized. Some students paint pictures; others write out the letters of the alphabet. The small group sitting around teacher Irene Castell is learning to count and compare numbers.

Castell says many kids would not learn these skills if they stayed home, or went to daycare.

“We always hear back from teachers of kindergartners, ‘We can always tell who’s been to pre-K,’” she says.

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Industry Group Challenges Proposed Ballot Question To Raise Oil And Gas Taxes

The state's largest industry group has mounted a two-pronged legal challenge to the proposed SQ 795.

The state's largest industry group has mounted a two-pronged legal challenge to the proposed SQ 795.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association on Wednesday filed two separate state Supreme Court challenges to a proposed state question that would ask voters to end industry discounts and impose a broad 7 percent tax on oil and gas production to fund teacher pay raises and early childhood education.

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Parents Still Fighting To Remove Humphreys From School Board

John Rex Elementary in  downtown Oklahoma City.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

John Rex Elementary in downtown Oklahoma City.


A group of about 20 parents asked Oklahoma City Public School Board members on Monday to kick former OKC Mayor Kirk Humphreys off the board of a local charter school.

Humphreys recently equated homosexuality to pedophilia while on a Sunday morning talk show, and many John Rex Charter School parents feel his comments were homophobic, and disqualify him from serving on the charter’s board of directors.

Jaricha Scales says his words go directly against the charter school’s creed her children are supposed to follow.

“How can we hold our students accountable, and not our board members?,” Scales asked during public comment.

Spokesperson for OKCPS, Beth Harrison, says while the district does authorize the charter contract for John Rex, its board has very little influence over whether Humphreys stays or goes. Harrison says that decision would be up to the John Rex Board of Directors.

Carrie Jacobs, who is on John Rex’s Board, says discussions are ongoing about what, if anything, should happen.

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