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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 25, 2022

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022.

Oklahoma executes Coddington

Oklahoma this morning carried out the first of twenty-five executions planned over the next two years. James Coddington, convicted of a 1997 murder, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at the state penitentiary in McAlester at 10:16 AM. Mitchell Hale, son of victim Albert Hale, said he felt no joy watching his father's killer die.

Reverend Don Heath, a Disciples of Christ minister and head of the Oklahoma Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty, prayed over Coddington in the death chamber. He said he was angry that Governor Stitt waited until less than 24 hours before the execution to deny the state Pardon and Parole Board's recommendation of clemency.

Coddington's execution appeared to go without issue. Despite a history of botched executions, Corrections Director Scott Crow said he expects the state to be able to handle two dozen over the next two years.

Oklahoma's next execution is scheduled for October 20th.

Federal student loan forgiveness offers some relief for indebted Oklahomans

Federal student loan borrowers – including thousands of Oklahomans – are going to get some relief, thanks to the Biden Administration’s announcement Wednesday of partial debt forgiveness for student loans. The administration is also extending the pandemic-era pause on payments that were supposed to begin next week.

President Biden announced his administration is canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt for Americans earning $125,000 or less per year or households earning $250,000 or less per year. Nearly 40% of Oklahoma federal student loan borrowers have less than $10,000 in debt, and of those, residents under the income cap will see their student debt wiped clean. The average Oklahoma borrower owes about $31,000.

"It’s about opportunity. It’s about giving people a fair shot. It’s about the one word America can be defined by: possibilities. It’s all about providing possibilities," Biden said.

The administration is also extending the pause on federal student loan payments for all borrowers until Dec. 31.

Norman English teacher resigns after sharing link to banned book resource with students

An English teacher in Norman has resigned after alleging she was punished for providing students with a link to help them access banned books.

Norman High teacher Summer Boismier says she was removed from the classroom after sharing a QR code to the Brooklyn Public Library's Books Unbanned program, which provides teens around the country free digital access to books that are banned where they live and attend school.

"My first reaction was 'let's hire that teacher' because we are always looking for smart courageous people to work in our system. I've heard about it because it's gone viral on Twitter. And I'm really am sick about it," said Brooklyn Public Library CEO Linda Johnson.

In a statement, Norman Public Schools claims Boismier was using her classroom to push her political views on students but that she was never fired or placed on leave.

The incident is the latest free-speech issue in Oklahoma schools following the signing of House Bill 1775, the so-called critical race theory ban that restricts how teachers can discuss topics like systemic racism and gender identity.

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