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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 25, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, January 25, 2024.

Governor Appoints New Education Secretary

Gov. Kevin Stitt named a new Secretary of Education to his cabinet Wednesday.

Nellie Tayloe Sanders sits on the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, where she often advocates for school choice and resources for students with learning disabilities.

As a board member, Sanders voted for what would be the nation’s first publicly funded religious school, the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School.

She is currently named in the two lawsuits filed after that vote — including one that was brought by the Oklahoma attorney general.

Due to her new cabinet appointment, she says she will be stepping down as a voting member of the board.

Sanders will be taking the place of former Education Secretary Katherine Curry, who resigned in November after three months on the job, citing mismanagement at the State Department of Education.

USDA Reappoints Oklahoma Farmer To The Advisory Committee For Minority Farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reappointed an Oklahoma farmer to a committee supporting minority farmers.

According to the USDA, the Advisory Committee for Minority Farmers was established by Congress in 2008 to ensure underserved farmers have equal access to its programs, like mental health services and education on building streams of income and climate-smart agriculture practices.

Arnetta Cotton has farmed in Wagoner, Oklahoma, for more than 40 years.

During her first term, she developed several workshops that help farmers in her community learn about regenerative agriculture and how to make money. She says she sees herself as a voice for her community.

“Our farmers work in an industry where they very rarely make a profit. They need not to be another number. They need to be humanized and they need to be served as they work so desperately to serve us," Cotton said.

Cotton says, in this role, she’ll continue to grow the programs she started locally and help farmers build trust with the government.

Report: Many Rural Hospitals Not Providing Maternity Care

A new report shows more than two-thirds of Oklahoma’s rural hospitals are not providing maternity care.

That lack of care for expectant mothers can have serious consequences.

It takes a pregnant, rural Oklahoman an average of 39 minutes to drive to a hospital for a checkup.

That’s according to a study from the Center for Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform.

The long trek is the result of the vast majority of the state’s rural hospitals not offering maternal health care.

Long drive times and the lack of care mean there’s a higher risk of complications and death.

Suggestions from the Center to improve expectant mothers’ health care include creating a stronger rural maternity care workforce and requiring higher payments from insurance companies and Medicaid. Solutions must also address the overall problems facing Oklahoma health care.

In recent years, ten rural hospitals have closed, and 33 more are at risk.

Cherokee Nation Makes Language Preservation Act Permanent

The Cherokee Nation approved the permanent authorization of the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act Wednesday.

The Act was originally designed as an emergency response to the dwindling number of fluent Cherokee speakers.

The permanent authorization means an annual budget of $18 million dollars will be used to preserve the language.

The Act also provides continuous funding for current and new revitalization programs.

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