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Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.

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A gavel is shown in a courtroom in the Cleveland County Courthouse.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

George Gibbs is no stranger to District Judge Linda Morrissey’s courtroom.

Pre-kindergarten teaching assistant Rose Mashinda talks to students in a French class at Le Monde International School, a public charter school in Norman.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Students as young as 4 spend the day at Le Monde International School learning to speak, write and read in French or Spanish. On a recent day, a class of boys and girls greeted their principal with an enthusiastic “Bonjour!” Another class crafted Eiffel Towers out of craft sticks.

Gubernatorial candidates Kevin Stitt and Drew Edmondson are shown at an Aug. 24 forum in Oklahoma City sponsored by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

With just over six weeks until Election Day, Republican Kevin Stitt and Democrat Drew Edmondson shared the stage Monday for the first gubernatorial debate with the two major-party candidates.

Students work on computers in a John Rex Charter Middle School classroom at the Myriad Gardens complex in Oklahoma City.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma is moving closer to changing the way it funds schools after a yearlong look at the education funding formula by a group of lawmakers and educators.

Kay Stokes pushes her husband, Roger, in a wheelchair outside of Grace Living Center in Oklahoma City. Grace is one of the nursing homes of which the City of Pauls Valley has become its designated owner.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A handful of small Oklahoma cities have become owners of dozens of Oklahoma nursing homes across the state in the past 15 months, hoping to tap into a federal program that will bring them millions of dollars.

American currency
thinkpanama / Flickr Creative Commons

Political spending by secretive groups that are allowed to hide their donors have already spent what is likely a record amount this year to influence Oklahoma political races.

An Oklahoma Watch review of campaign finance records found so-called “dark money” groups had spent nearly $2.7 million on Oklahoma’s legislative, statewide and congressional races by the end of August.

Members of the state Senate are shown here in May 2018. Seven of the 48 senators are women.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Before the first vote was even cast in Oklahoma’s elections this year, women had already made history.

The University of Oklahoma Medical Center is one of two safety-net hospitals in the state that is facing a loss of federal funds it says it needs to train future health care providers.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The federal government has clawed back another $32 million in Medicaid matching funds as part of an ongoing dispute over Oklahoma’s use of the money to help fund medical schools that treat Medicaid patients.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services notified state officials Aug. 31 that it disallowed a total of $64.2 million in federal matching funds for the 2017 calendar year. The total includes almost $33 million that was previously disallowed.

Textbooks are shown lined up on a desk at Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City in April.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

With its attorney raising challenges, the state Board of Education did not comply by a Sept. 1 deadline with Gov. Mary Fallin’s order to identify for possible consolidation school districts that spend less than 60 percent of their funds on instruction.

A deep-pocketed political newcomer and Republican businessman from Tulsa will face a longtime Democratic Party stalwart and former attorney general in November’s gubernatorial election.

Students enter Lexington Elementary School on April 13 after the school was closed for nine school days during the teacher walkout.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The latest counts of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma capture a stubborn reality: Classrooms across the state are being staffed by a teacher who isn’t fully trained or prepared.

"I Voted" stickers are seen at Oklahoma County Election Commission offices.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

If there is one thing clear about Tuesday’s primary runoff election, it’s that voters and observers are in for a record level of suspense.

Kevin Stitt, candidate for the Republican nomination for Oklahoma Governor, speaks in Guthrie, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.
Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

Newly obtained documents from Wisconsin regulators show gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt personally signed background-check documents for Gateway Mortgage Group in 2008 that did not disclose previous regulatory actions against his company in three other states.

Students at John Rex Charter Middle School in Oklahoma City – sixth graders Finley Cunningham, top left, Direon Kelley, bottom left, Charlie Marshall and Taylor Ellis – sit on cushions in the hallway during a break from schoolwork.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

There are 75 middle-school students in the long, sunlit room, sitting four to a table.

They work quietly and independently on laptops, most wearing headphones. Some fidget, their chairs rocking with them.

Kevin Stitt is shown speaking at a forum hosted by Edmond Republican Women on May 21.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt’s mortgage company did not tell Wisconsin officials about its run-ins with other states’ regulators when it applied for a mortgage banking license a decade ago, according to documents obtained by Oklahoma Watch.

Sue Ann Arnall
Enid News and Eagle

An outside group funded by Sue Ann Arnall, an Oklahoma City philanthropist, spent more than $65,000 to defeat an Oklahoma County district court judge who presided over her 2014 divorce case with billionaire oilman Harold Hamm.

Only four of 28 candidates for statewide elected office in Oklahoma have voluntarily released specific details about their personal finances similar to what is typically disclosed by federal candidates and state-level candidates in other states.

Oklahoma’s adoption of medical marijuana will be green in more ways than one: Retail dispensaries, processors, growing operations and tax agencies will have to work within a cash-only industry.

A student-led tour group walks on the south oval of the University of Oklahoma campus.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

For decades, the University of Oklahoma has been recruiting and heavily investing in National Merit Scholars — academically advanced students who score in the top 1 percent on a standardized test.

Marijuana leaf
Wikimedia Commons

For Oklahoma inmates, the state’s legalization of medical marijuana will not translate into access in the state prison system.

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