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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 29, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.

Number of emergency-certified teachers keeps climbing amid Oklahoma-wide educator shortage

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education approved more than 1,000 emergency certifications for teachers at their meeting last week.

There are now more than 2,500 emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma classrooms.

That’s after the state board of education approved 1,067 new certifications at an August meeting as part of its consent docket.

Emergency certified teachers don’t have all the qualifications to be fully licensed to teach.

Last school year saw a record number of emergency certified teachers and it appears the state will blow past that during this school year.

Oklahoma has long struggled with a teacher shortage. The number of emergency certifications was fewer than 100 in 2010 but has consistently numbered in the thousands for years.

Cherokee Nation funds for water projects

The Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Service are dedicating almost $12 million to clean drinking water and safe wastewater treatment.

The funds will help build and upgrade waterlines to homes across the Cherokee reservation in eastern Oklahoma. They’ll also be used to rehabilitate wastewater treatment plants and install individual septic systems across multiple counties.

The money comes from the bi-partisan Infrastructure, Investments and Jobs Act of 2021.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says these projects will help ensure that Cherokee citizens have the clean drinking water they deserve.

IHS estimates that every dollar they invest in water and sewer infrastructure saves a dollar and eighteen cents in health care costs.

Oklahoma’s pecan harvest will likely be smaller this fall due to drought

OSU Extension fruit and nut specialist Becky Carroll says drought will likely affect the state’s pecan crop this year.

During a recent SUNUP episode on OETA, she said the dry weather has caused many issues for native pecan growers who don’t have the ability to irrigate their orchards.

“During the summer months July and early August when the nuts are sizing, we like to get about 2 inches of rain or irrigation a week, and some places haven’t had any rainfall since the beginning of June. So, they may be very small this year,” said Carroll.

A normal pecan harvest in Oklahoma, she says, yields about 13 million pounds of nuts, but the current drought could reduce that number to 11 million pounds.

Rise of Christian Nationalism influences political discourse and elections in 2022

New research indicates white Christian Nationalism is on the rise across the United States and will likely influence this November's elections. On this week's Capitol Insider, University of Oklahoma associate professor of political science Allyson Shortle said the proponents of Christian Nationalism are not necessarily radical, but their numbers have more than tripled in the last eighteen years. 

"I don't think you're going to see as many people who truly get out there and want to, you know, perform political violence. I'm not so sure that's true, but you might view more people being complicit when violence happens, if their team wins, right? If Christians stand to benefit, if white Christians stand to benefit from it," said Dr. Shortle.

Shortle is co-author of a new book, The Everyday Crusade: Christian Nationalism in American Politics. Listen for more on this week's Capitol Insider episode.

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