StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact Oklahoma is a collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU. Quinton Chandler and Robby Korth travel the state to report on education, health, and criminal justice — and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans.

StateImpact Oklahoma is funded with private contributions from listeners and readers. Donate here.

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Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

As the COVID-19 pandemic has halted businesses, public events and K-12 schools, Oklahoma’s higher education institutions have turned to virtual schooling for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

The University of Oklahoma has moved almost 4,000 of its formerly in-person classes to the internet. 

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Coronavirus is disrupting public life and leaders in local and state government are trying to slow the disease’s advance. StateImpact reporters Robby Korth and Quinton Chandler examine how schools and local jails – public institutions where people are legally required to gather – are coping.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Nobody is keeping track of how many schools in Oklahoma have armed teachers, yet legislators want to reduce requirements for school personnel armed in classrooms. StateImpact’s Robby Korth went to Sterling, Oklahoma to see why some rural schools want to ease regulations.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma prison employees are among the lowest paid in the nation. Last year, state lawmakers tried to help with a pay increase, but some people got the raise and others didn’t.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

A national shortage of mental health providers is requiring universities and colleges to look at different ways to help students. StateImpact’s Robby Korth talked to university mental health providers to ask how Oklahoma colleges are promoting mental wellness.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A popular desire for reform led lawmakers to push the release of hundreds of people from Oklahoma prisons in a record commutation last year. The climactic event was born from a series of reforms that have moved Oklahoma away from the number one spot for incarceration. But, that progress might be temporary.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma tribes will pay the state an estimated $13 million dollars in Class III gaming money next Thursday. Since tribes believe the compacts auto-renewed at the start of the year – they are going to continue to remit their gaming funds like they have been for the past 15 years.

But the state isn’t going to put that money directly into education – the largest recipient of gaming money – even though it’s supposed to, under state law.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

A group of fifth graders intently watch a color-shifting octopus dream at the top of its tank.

Today, inside an outbuilding at Tahlequah’s Cherokee Elementary School these children are tasked with critically thinking about what they’re seeing. It’s all part of RISE, the school’s gifted and talented program.

When the legislative session begins Monday, state lawmakers will have more than 4,500 pieces of legislation they can consider. StateImpact reporters have been combing through the bills and have this preview.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The outside world was overwhelming when Robin Wertz was released from prison in 2007. Today, she helps others who are having that same experience as the site director of Exodus House, a transitional housing unit that helps people get back on their feet.

“We can’t go back out into crime-ridden drug-infested neighborhoods,” Wertz said. “We have to provide communities where they’re getting the resources they need and they’re being inspired.”

In her office, she has a file cabinet filled with neatly organized folders holding dozens of letters from prisoners hunting for a home.

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