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Tulsa lawmakers say they'll focus on mental health, education policy next session

Oklahoma's Capitol Dome
Kateleigh Mills
Oklahoma's Capitol Dome

Tulsa lawmakers are gearing up for session. Wednesday night two state reps met for a discussion at OU Tulsa with constituents.

Rep. John Waldron championed a potential law altering the state’s controversial report card system. Every year dozens of Tulsa schools receive ‘F’ grades from the state. Waldron says House Bill 3177 would remove an unfair chronic absenteeism metric and replace it with a measure of a school’s culture.

“I’ve always thought chronic absenteeism was a challenging metric because it’s very difficult for schools to do anything about kids who don’t show up. It’s like pushing string, and that's all the more true since the pandemic because absenteeism rates have doubled nationwide,” said Waldron.

Waldron made the comments at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. Rep. Jeff Boatman also attended. He said his big push this year will be mental health policy.

“I think the mental health bill that I'm trying to move forward, I've asked for $36.8 million to go into the mental health workforce to bring up the professionals so we have psychologists, psychiatrists,” said Boatman.

House Bill 3449 would create a pilot program run by OSU to help staff behavioral facilities.

Oklahoma’s next regular legislative session starts Feb. 5.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.