Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to produce in-depth and investigative journalism on public-policy and quality-of-life issues facing the state.

Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. Our goal is to promote and deepen public and private debate that makes a difference in the lives of Oklahomans.

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Tulsa Public Schools

At all elementary and middle schools and some high schools in the Houston Independent School District — 220 in all — every student begins the day with a free breakfast right in the classroom.

The result: fewer absences and discipline problems and an increase in math scores, according to the district’s former superintendent Terry Grier.

FBI Traces Racist Messages to Tulsa, Norman

Feb 7, 2017

Federal agents investigating racist messages sent shortly after the 2016 presidential election interviewed three men who graduated from Tulsa-area high schools in recent years, obtaining search warrants for the home and phone of one of them, federal court records show.

Online retail giant Amazon will start collecting sales tax from Oklahoma customers in March – a move that will send tens of millions of dollars to state and local governments.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday confirmed the arrangement, first reported by Oklahoma Watch the day before, and said collections will begin on March 1. State, city, town and county governments will receive their first extra revenues as early as May. With the change, Oklahoma will become the 40th state where the Seattle-based e-commerce company collects and remits sales and use taxes.

Betsy DeVos, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, has given millions in campaign contributions to politicians across the country.

Some of that fiscal muscle trickled into Oklahoma during the last election cycle through a pro-school-choice “Super PAC” that, notably, opposed so-called “teachers’ caucus” candidates in many instances. (The caucus arose out of many educators’ frustration over what they view as low education funding levels and teacher pay.)

A recent federal court ruling could open a new wave of redistricting challenges across the country. And that includes Oklahoma, where Republicans now control 78.5 percent of the statehouse seats – a 10 percentage-point increase since the GOP-controlled Legislature redrew legislative boundaries five years ago.

David Bitton

Oklahoma is one of 25 states requiring three years of math for graduation, according to the Education Commission of the States.

Eighteen states require four; the others require two, have graduation requirements set by local school boards or have proficiency-based graduation.

David Bitton / Oklahoma Watch

Participation in advanced-level math and science classes in high school is a strong predictor of success in college, regardless of the grade earned in the class or whether it results in college credit, studies show.

oksenate.gov

Women, already underrepresented in the state Legislature, will hold fewer seats in 2017 despite a surge in the number of female candidates this year.

Those results, coupled with Hillary Clinton’s failed bid to become the first woman president, have left many women in Oklahoma feeling that their representation in politics has been dealt a blow.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

After 23 years in the child-care industry, Laura Hatcher is edging toward a decision she doesn’t want to make.

The 51-year-old Antlers resident runs one of the four licensed day-care facilities in Pushmataha County in southeast Oklahoma. But she questions whether she can keep her doors open beyond another year or two because running the business is getting more expensive and difficult.

“It’s a struggle and I’m working 11, 12 hours a day,” she said. “If it continues the way it is, I’m not going to be able to keep going.”

The lineup for November’s general election ballot will be settled after candidates in one congressional and 13 legislative races face off Tuesday.

The run-off elections will feature the top two vote earners from the June primaries in races where no candidate received at least 50 percent of the votes.  

Districts in much of the state won’t vote because their legislative and congressional match-ups for the general election have already been set.

Here are five things to keep in mind about Tuesday’s elections:

Republican Races Dominate

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