An oil derrick sits on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol.

Donations, Lobbying Reflect Influence of Oil and Gas Industry

Oil and gas companies, along with their trade groups, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to lawmakers over more than two years, with top Republican leaders at the forefront of budget talks taking in some of the largest amounts.

Concerns Prompt New Law Revising How Virtual Schools Track Attendance

Virtual charter schools will have to start tracking student attendance in accordance with a new law signed Friday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The proposal arose after Oklahoma Watch revealed last year that all five of Oklahoma’s virtual charter schools reported between 98 and 100 percent attendance last year. Two reported 100 percent.

Summer and After-School Programs Out of Reach for Many Parents

When school’s out, in summer or afternoon, many parents face a struggle. Research shows that children without access to summer and after-school learning programs can suffer academically, but finding good, affordable ones is an arduous task. Oklahoma provides no state funding, and a federal program could be eliminated.

Students Sometimes Face ‘Lunch Shaming’ When They Can’t Pay

In some Oklahoma schools, children whose school meal accounts aren’t paid in full sometimes face embarrassment in the cafeteria line. The schools take away their trays and give them a cold sandwich instead. Others put a stamp on the student’s hand that reads “lunch money.” The practices have triggered a backlash.

Insights on the Widespread Problem of Hunger

Hunger in Oklahoma was the focus of an “Oklahoma Watch-Out” public forum, featuring Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director Chris Bernard; Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and Leon Hill, Oklahoma City Public Schools executive director of operations services.