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All articles by Gene Perry

In The Know: President Obama calls Tulsa mayor to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting

by | September 22nd, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

President Obama calls Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting: President Barack Obama complimented the city of Tulsa and city leaders, especially Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, for their handling of the aftermath of Terence Crutcher’s death, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Wednesday. “He called, and I had a nice conversation with him,” Bartlett said. “He was very complimentary of Tulsa, of me — which I was proud to hear — and he was very complimentary of our police chief. I was very proud to hear that.” Bartlett said Obama thanked him for transparency efforts following Crutcher’s fatal shooting by a Tulsa police officer [Tulsa World].

We the People meets with Tulsa Police chief to talk community policing, policies in department: We the People Oklahoma’s Marq Lewis met with the Tulsa’s chief of police Wednesday afternoon to discuss practices and policies within the department. Lewis said he and Police Chief Chuck Jordan discussed community policing and policies, including psychological evaluations and blood tests for officers involved in shootings. Lewis praised the department for having a dialogue with the community, but he also said release of the video of last week’s fatal police shooting of Terence Crutcher could have been better because there is concern with the audio [Tulsa World].

KIPP charter schools mourn parent shot and killed by police in Oklahoma: The shooting Friday evening of an unarmed motorist by police in Oklahoma is more than a news story for the KIPP schools. Terence Crutcher, the 40-year-old motorist killed by Tulsa police after his car broke down, is a KIPP parent. He leaves four children. KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) is a national network of high achieving charter schools. KIPP CEO Richard Barth addressed Crutcher’s death in a letter to staff and parents [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

continue reading In The Know: President Obama calls Tulsa mayor to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting

Why Oklahoma teachers need a raise, in two charts

by | September 21st, 2016 | Posted in Education | Comments (6)

One of the most hotly debated State Questions that Oklahomans will decide this year is SQ 779. The measure would increase the sales tax to improve education funding — with most of the new funding dedicated to teacher raises. While opponents of the measure have criticized using a sales tax increase as the funding source, there is widespread, bipartisan agreement that Oklahoma teachers need a raise.

SQ 779 would require districts to provide a $5,000 raise for all Oklahoma teachers. It would also provide some additional funds that schools could use for performance pay or pay increases for the most highly demanded teacher positions. That $5,000 wouldn’t bring Oklahoma up to anywhere near the best states for teacher pay, but it would counteract the trend of falling pay since 2009.

continue reading Why Oklahoma teachers need a raise, in two charts

In The Know: For thousands of Oklahomans, civil justice is out of reach

by | September 21st, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

For Thousands of Oklahomans, Civil Justice Is Out of Reach: Attorney Janet Roloff pauses as she tries to estimate what it would cost David and Minnie Harris if she had billed them for the hours she’s worked representing them in their mobile-home foreclosure case. “For three years of litigation against major corporations?” she asks, seated behind a cluttered desk in the McAlester field office for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. “You know, I’d have to say least a hundred thousand dollars.” That is well beyond the reach of the Harrises, a Fort Towson couple whose only income is Social Security disability payments. Still, Roloff is unsure her pro bono work will pay off [Oklahoma Watch].

Suicide care crisis follows years of underfunding: Francie Moss hit roadblocks as she tried to help her adult daughter get treatment for suicidal thoughts. She said she was frustrated in part because of the stigma associated with brain illnesses, and those diseases are treated differently than other illnesses. But it’s complicated and expensive to treat patients with mental health and substance abuse issues, said Mary Holloway Richard, health care attorney at Phillips Murrah. And Oklahoma’s agency that provides services for people who can’t pay for private services has been underfunded for decades. Hospital medical treatment for suicidal behavior is woefully inadequate, in some cases, Moss said. She said many hospitals will keep a suicidal patient for only three to five days [Journal Record].

Innocence Project exonerees recall 22 years behind bars: For most of us, an incredible number of life events took place between 1994 and 2016. Marriages, babies, vacations, job changes. For De’Marchoe Carpenter and Malcolm Scott, those 22 years included days that mostly looked the same — exercising, watching TV, writing letters, praying — all while incarcerated for a crime neither man committed. Carpenter and Scott have been back out in the free world since May 9, a date that will forever be etched in their minds. That was the day Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes announced the two men — accused and convicted of killing 19-year-old single mom Karen Summers — were to be freed after 22 years in prison [NonDoc].

continue reading In The Know: For thousands of Oklahomans, civil justice is out of reach

In The Know: As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City

by | September 20th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City: Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools are segregated at the same rate black students were before a court- ordered desegregation plan that bused black students to white schools. In 1970, a year before busing began, 71 percent of black students in the district attended a school with black enrollment of 70 percent or higher. Last year, 71 percent of Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools attended a school with Hispanic enrollment of 70 percent or higher, according to The Oklahoman’s analysis of data provided by the district [NewsOK].

Teacher union president’s observances about OKC school district merit attention: Aurora Lora, named superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools in July, has said many times that she plans to stick around awhile. It’s safe to say Ed Allen, head of the local teachers union, hopes that’s the case. This isn’t solely because Allen likes what he has seen from Lora during her two-plus years in Oklahoma City (she was assistant superintendent before getting the top job). Instead, it’s because he believes the district badly needs a long-term leader to effect the sort of change that is needed [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid: It’s well known that state aid funding in Oklahoma has struggled in recent years — since 2008 we’ve cut per student state aid by 24.2 percent after inflation, the largest drop in the U.S. Cuts to state aid affect all school districts in the state, but not all districts are affected equally. Because state aid to local districts is based on a formula that takes into account the needs of students and the local resources of districts to fund themselves, the amount per student that’s funded by the state varies widely between districts. In the 2015-2016 school year, aid went from a low of $16 to a high of $7,740 per student [OK Policy].

continue reading In The Know: As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City

Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid

by | September 19th, 2016 | Posted in Education | Comments (1)

It’s well known that state aid funding in Oklahoma has struggled in recent years — since 2008 we’ve cut per student state aid by 24.2 percent after inflation, the largest drop in the U.S. Cuts to state aid affect all school districts in the state, but not all districts are affected equally. Because state aid to local districts is based on a formula that takes into account the needs of students and the local resources of districts to fund themselves, the amount per student that’s funded by the state varies widely between districts. In the 2015-2016 school year, aid went from a low of $16 to a high of $7,740 per student.

You can see the per student state aid funding for each Oklahoma school district in the map below. Click here to open an interactive map as its own tab and click here to download the data in Excel. The map reveals a couple of trends — the highest levels of per-student state aid tend to be found in districts in southeast Oklahoma, while the lowest state aid tends in be in northwest Oklahoma districts outside of the panhandle.

[Note: The map does not include charter schools, which tend to receive higher state aid because they have no local revenues. Charter school state aid can be found in the full data set.]

continue reading Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid

In The Know: Nearly one-third of Oklahoma school districts now on a four-day school week

by | September 19th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Nearly one-third of Oklahoma school districts now on a four-day school week: About a month into the school year, the jury is still out regarding a move to a four-day week at two area districts that made the change this year. Although leaders at Wagoner and Catoosa school districts say the transition to the new schedule has been smooth, they agree that it is too early to tell what total savings will be and whether academics will be affected [Tulsa World]. Four-day school weeks could leave thousands of Oklahoma kids hungry [OK Policy].

Opponent says education tax proposal aims to return Oklahoma to its ‘Dark Ages’: An opponent of State Question 779 threw another chip on the table Friday. Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs told a local Republican gathering the 1 percent education sales-tax proposal is a political ploy calculated to give the state’s GOP leadership a “black eye” and send the state “back to the Dark Ages of Oklahoma.” State Senator Brian Crain (R-Tulsa) disagreed with Small, saying the tax proposal is the only practical solution to a “crisis” in school funding [Tulsa World]. See OK Policy’s guide to SQ 779 and Oklahoma’s other 2016 state questions here.

Office of Juvenile Affairs hopes to reverse decline in budget: The Board of Juvenile Affairs approved a request Friday to ask the Oklahoma Legislature to increase the agency’s budget in hopes of reversing a gradual funding reduction over the last several years. The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs budget for the current fiscal year is $92 million, significantly lower than the $112 million the agency received in the 2010 fiscal year. Executive Director Steve Buck told the board that for the department to provide youthful offenders in the state with adequate education and treatment to avoid a life of crime in adulthood, an increase in its budget will need to happen [NewsOK].

continue reading In The Know: Nearly one-third of Oklahoma school districts now on a four-day school week

In The Know: New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation

by | September 16th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation: New Census data shows Oklahoma made some progress in reducing the percentage of families living in poverty in 2015. In 2014, nearly one out of six Oklahomans (16.6 percent) were making less than the poverty line ($24,000 a year for a family of four) before taxes. In 2015, about 13,000 fewer Oklahomans were living below the poverty line, dropping our state’s poverty rate to 16.1 percent. The official poverty rate for the United States as a whole fell even more, from 15.5 percent in 2014 to 14.7 percent in 2015. These improvements widened the gap between the percentage of Oklahomans and the percentage of all Americans living in poverty [OK Policy].

Oil downturn continues to slow Oklahoma’s economy: Low oil prices and the oil industry slowdown continue to create financial challenges in Oklahoma and nine other oil-dependent states, according to a report released Wednesday by Moody’s Investors Service. The report looked at direct revenue effects including production taxes and revenues, indirect revenue effects such as industry spending cutbacks and layoffs, and the ability of the state to adapt to the ongoing challenges. Moody’s rates Oklahoma’s credit as Aa2, which is the company’s third-highest rating. Moody’s gives the state a negative outlook, largely because of the likely effects of oil prices on the state economy [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City Council opposes “right-to-farm”: The Oklahoma City Council declared people should vote against State Question 777, the “right-to-farm” measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. The council voted 6-2 Tuesday for a resolution that asserts passage of SQ 777 could threaten the city’s ability to promote residents’ health, safety and welfare. Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher said he was concerned the proposed constitutional amendment would adversely affect access to clean, safe drinking water [NewsOK]. Learn more about SQ 777 and the six other questions on Oklahoma ballots this year with OK Policy’s State Question Guide.

continue reading In The Know: New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation

New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation

by | September 15th, 2016 | Posted in Healthcare, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

New Census data shows Oklahoma made some progress in reducing the percentage of families living in poverty in 2015. In 2014, nearly one out of six Oklahomans (16.6 percent) were making less than the poverty line ($24,000 a year for a family of four) before taxes. In 2015, about 13,000 fewer Oklahomans were living below the poverty line, dropping our state’s poverty rate to 16.1 percent.

The official poverty rate for the United States as a whole fell even more, from 15.5 percent in 2014 to 14.7 percent in 2015. These improvements widened the gap between the percentage of Oklahomans and the percentage of all Americans living in poverty.

poverty-2008-2015

continue reading New Census data shows Oklahoma improves on poverty and uninsured rates but still lags behind nation

Your guide to this year’s Oklahoma state questions

by | September 12th, 2016 | Posted in Blog | Comments (1)

sq-fact-sheetsToday we published a series of fact sheets on each of the state questions on Oklahoma ballots this year. In addition to state and national races, voters will decide seven state questions on topics including the death penalty, regulation of agriculture, a sales tax for education, criminal justice reform, the use of public resources for religious purposes, and alcohol law reform.

Each fact sheet includes a brief summary of the state question, background information, what supporters and opponents are saying, and the language that will be on Oklahoma ballots. The fact sheets also include a list of links to other resources, such as media coverage and the websites of campaigns for and against the state question. We’ll continue to update and add to these links as we get closer to election day.

Let us know if you have any questions about this resource or suggestions for what we can add to help inform Oklahomans about the important decisions they’ll be making on November 8!

In The Know: More women head to state prisons

by | September 12th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (2)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

More Women Head to State Prisons: Despite years of concern over Oklahoma’s high rate of female incarceration, the number of women sent to prison jumped again in the latest fiscal year. In fiscal 2016, which ended June 30, the number of women sent to Oklahoma prisons rose by 9.5 percent, from 1,593 to 1,744, data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows. The total men imprisoned that year fell by about 1 percent, to 8,282. Statewide, the number of new prisoners increased by less than 1 percent [Oklahoma Watch].

Robert Henry: Vote to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system: The overarching goal of public policy should be to protect citizens, strengthen communities and yield a wise return on investment. To this end, one of the most important issues facing Oklahoma is the need to reform our criminal justice system. Politically motivated policies and ineffective sentencing guidelines cause a great deal of harm to the safety and health of communities across our state. Yet families, communities and future generations can benefit greatly from policies based on sound logic, evidence and research [Robert Henry / NewsOK].

In reducing staff to cut budget, DHS paid millions to departing employees: The Department of Human Services spent $14 million on employees who resigned or accepted voluntary buyouts from the state agency in fiscal 2016, a 70 percent increase over the prior year. The increase in so-called “terminal leave” payments comes as the agency continues to deal with decreasing staff in some areas while simultaneously increasing staff in another department. A spokeswoman said the increase in terminal pay was to be expected. DHS has reduced staff by more than 1,200 employees over the past two years, agency spokeswoman Sheree Powell said in an email [Tulsa World].

continue reading In The Know: More women head to state prisons

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