classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Report: Oklahoma Leads The U.S. In Per-Pupil Education Cuts

Oklahoma leads the nation in education cuts based on per pupil spending, and those cuts are nearly double those of the next-closest state. A report out last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Oklahoma's per-pupil funding fell by nearly 27 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2017. “Cuts made to the Oklahoma Department of Education were greater than necessary to cover the fiscal year 2016 shortfall,” the report says. “To correct for this, the...
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Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel gestures as he answers a question at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, July 30, 2008.

The state auditor’s office released findings Tuesday from an investigation into the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. The findings say the sheriff’s office unlawfully spent department funds under John Whetsel’s leadership.

According to the review, the department failed to pay healthcare contracts even though money was available at the time. Auditors also determined Whetsel purchased nearly $1 million worth of vehicles while other obligations weren’t met.

Carla Quillen, a proponent of SQ 780/781 stands outside her office on Aug. 30, 2016
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahoma’s prisons are crowded, and the state continues to incarcerate offenders at the second- highest rate in the nation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Two state questions on the November 8 ballot aim to ease both of those strains.  

emerald ash borer
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Scientists have found an invasive, tree-eating beetle in far northeastern Oklahoma, and the ash trees headed to a Spavinaw lumber yard are at risk from the pesky insect.

Johnson Lumber Co. owner Darren Johnson told The Journal Record’s Brian Brus he hasn’t seen any damage yet, but he’s still hoping for a hard winter to slow down the emerald ash borer beetle.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren (left) speaks as Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby looks on during a news conference after The Big 12 Conference meeting in Grapevine, Texas, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016.
LM Otero / AP

After months of speculation and discussion, the Big 12 Conference decided against expansion. The announcement came after Monday’s six-hour meeting with the conference's university presidents and the commissioner.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren is the chairman of the conference's board of directors, and he said the decision was unanimous. 

Video Breakdown: State Question 779

Oct 17, 2016

As KGOU and KOSU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

Remembering Chickasaw Tribal Elder Jerry Imotichey

Oct 17, 2016

Earlier this month Here & Now visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma — a center not only for culture and history, but also the preservation and revitalization of the critically endangered Chickasaw language.

Among the 30 or so remaining native speakers we met was Jerry Imotichey. He grew up speaking Chickasaw, and called the language and culture his “soul.”

People hold signs at a "protest for justice" over the Sept. 16, 2016 shooting death of Terence Crutcher, sponsored by We the People Oklahoma. The rally took place in Tulsa on Sept. 20, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

The Tulsa Police Department paid more than $216,000 in overtime in the immediate aftermath of the September 16 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer.

The expenses covered increased staffing of patrols for demonstrations, marches, the funeral and news conferences after Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher.

State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, on the Senate floor Tuesday, May 17, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, plans to explore vaccination issues during the 2017 legislative session.

In an interview Friday morning, the Oklahoma City Republican told eCapitol’s Tyler Talley vaccination rates have plummeted over the last decade, and he said it’s his duty as a physician to advocate for vaccinations:

He explained that there was once a 95 percent Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination rate among kindergartners in Oklahoma.

Bob Nance and Gary Watts, attorneys for eight Oklahoma school districts that successfully sued to have the Oklahoma Tax Commission change how it calculates motor vehicle tax disbursement.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A group of school districts won a case Friday against the Oklahoma Tax Commission, and it could change how millions of dollars are distributed.

Oklahoma schools get a chunk of every vehicle registration and excise tax paid to the state. Last year, lawmakers changed the formula and the Oklahoma Tax Commission had to interpret how to divide those motor vehicle taxes.

Leah Thompson Carter, of Bartlesville, lost her son to a prescription drug overdose and is afraid she will lose another. Here, she speaks at the Suicide Awareness Summit in Bartlesville in September.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

For many Oklahomans, the tug of war between drug addiction and the wait time for treatment can be a one-sided competition: The power of addiction often wins.

Those who lack insurance or cannot pay out of pocket often find themselves on a long waiting list that prioritizes the most severe drug addiction cases. If the person isn’t pregnant or injecting drugs, he or she will not receive state-funded treatment or will be forced to wait, sometimes weeks, until a spot opens up.