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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 17, 2022

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022.

Tribal leader concerned HB 1775 affecting how native history is taught in classroom

A local tribal leader is concerned that House Bill 1775 is affecting how Native American history is being taught to Oklahoma students after hearing that an educator has decided not to teach from the "The Killers of the Flower Moon."

According to the Oklahoman, a Dewey Public Schools teacher won't be educating students on the book due to fears of losing their teaching license.

While the district has not officially banned the book, the school's superintendent, Vince Vincent, believes the teacher, like many others, is worried of violating HB 1775.

"It probably sheds light a little bit on the concerns that individual teachers have in regards to House Bill 1775, and what may or may not create a situation where either the school receives negative attention and gets some sort of accreditation deficiency, or whether the teachers themselves suffer consequences in terms of teacher certification," said Superintendent Vincent.

However, former Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray said there's no way for people to appreciate how far the tribe has come without learning about their dark past.

"We don't study history to feel good about it," Gray said. "History is there for us to understand the mistakes of the past so we cannot repeat them."

Gray said the atrocities Osage tribal members faced were a direct result of federal policy that allowed great theft, the loss of many lives, and cultural damage that Gray says will take generations to overcome.

As one of the states with the highest native population, Gray said the travesties his tribe has faced are not unique.

"Other tribes throughout the state have their own 'Reign of Terror' story, where they have experienced a great loss like this," Gray explained. "We need to understand that to understand how we are today, and why it's important that tribes remain an essential part of the fabric of Oklahoma."

Gray said tribal nations still have an enormous story to tell, but that won't be possible until state legislation allows for history to be taught in Oklahoma classrooms.

Oklahoma City Public Schools calls for bond election

Oklahoma City Public Schools is calling for a bond election this November.

The $955 million bond issue would be the largest in the history of Oklahoma City Public Schools and it will appear on the November general election ballot.

It would raise property taxes within OKCPS boundaries from 18 mills to 26 mills. That would represent an increase of $8 per $1,000 of assessed value annually.

The bond would pay for some big projects: five new schools, a new multisport stadium and a bevy of renovations across the district.

Bond issues need 60 percent of voters to approve them to pass in Oklahoma. It would be the first property tax increase to pay for OKCPS improvements since 2000.

Primary runoff election early voting details

There’s more voting in Oklahoma ahead of the November mid-term elections.

Key races to determine nominees for each party include the Democratic fight to see who will face incumbent James Lankford in November for the U.S. Senate.

Republicans will determine their candidate to replace retiring U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, Markwayne Mullin’s now vacant House seat, and state school superintendent.

State Election Secretary Paul Ziriax reminds voters that Oklahoma is a closed primary state. Independents can vote in the Democratic runoff, but not in the Republican races.

Early voting is available on Thursday and Friday of this week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Absentee ballots must be in the hands of county election boards by 7 p.m. on election night.

If you have questions concerning voting locations or related concerns, contact your county election board or the state election board at 405-522-2391.

Mustang Public Schools superintendent requests re-evaluation of downgraded accreditation status

Mustang Public Schools has joined Tulsa in asking Oklahoma’s State Board of Education to reverse its decision to downgrade the district’s accreditation.

Mustang superintendent Charles Bradley shared his request to the state board of education in a letter to parents Tuesday.

Bradley writes that he thinks the state board’s decision to accredit Mustang with a warning was unfair and the school district wasn’t given a chance to defend itself. He requested the board revisit the matter in an upcoming meeting.

Mustang and Tulsa were the first districts to be punished for alleged violations of House Bill 1775 - Oklahoma’s so-called Critical Race Theory ban that makes no actual mention of CRT, but does prohibit schools from teaching controversial topics about race and gender.

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