All articles by Guest

No Exit: The School-to-Prison pipeline (Guest Post: Camille Landry)

by | August 27th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Neglected Oklahoma, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (5)
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Graphic courtesy of Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org)

Camille Landry is a writer, activist, and social justice advocate who lives in Oklahoma City.  This post is part of our “Neglected Oklahoma” series, which tells the stories of Oklahomans in situations where the basic necessities of life are hard to come by.  These are real people and their stories are true (names have been changed to protect privacy).

Kyron Dean perches uncomfortably on a sofa in his grandmother’s home in Del City. “Still trying to get used to being free,” he says. He was released from prison two weeks before we met, after serving 30 months for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

“He was always a good boy. Polite,” his grandmother says. “He was raised to be respectful.” So how did he end up in prison? “It’s like they greased the chute. Back when he was in the 9th grade, Kyron got into a fight. Boys fight. Always have. No guns, no knives, just two boys tussling. Next thing I know he is locked up. That’s just crazy! It’s wrong.”

continue reading No Exit: The School-to-Prison pipeline (Guest Post: Camille Landry)

A deserved downgrade of Kansas’ bonds (Guest Post: Michael Leachman)

by | August 14th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Taxes | Comments (0)
Michael Leachman

Michael Leachman

Michael Leachman is the Director of State Fiscal Research with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This post previously appeared on the Center’s Off the Charts blog.

The meaning of Standard & Poor’s recent downgrade of Kansas’ credit rating, in which it cited Kansas’ “structurally unbalanced budget,” is clear: Kansas’ budget is a train heading off a cliff.

Here are the details:

continue reading A deserved downgrade of Kansas’ bonds (Guest Post: Michael Leachman)

Beware the influence of ALEC in Oklahoma (Guest Post: J.C. Moore)

by | July 17th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Matters | Comments (3)

business_moneyJ.C. Moore is a retired science teacher, a member of the the American Geophysical Union, and co-founder of OKcitizensfirst.org.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a great influence on our state politics, but many Oklahomans have heard little about the organization. On the surface,  ALEC is an organization made up of corporations and state-level elected officials which meets three times a year to write “model legislation” for states. Officials can then take the model legislation back to their state for consideration. That sounds like a good process, except that what goes on under the surface of ALEC is kept secret.

In May of 2013, ALEC met in Oklahoma City. While corporate representatives from ALEC met with our legislators, a group of citizens protested across the street. The protesters, as well as members of the press, had been barred from attending by security guards. The agenda of the meeting was secret and an elaborate drop box system was created to avoid FOIA requests. Now, over a year later, there is still little known about the meeting or its influence on our legislators.

continue reading Beware the influence of ALEC in Oklahoma (Guest Post: J.C. Moore)

Providing essential resources to schools without the financial burden (Guest post: Sarah Julian)

by | July 10th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (0)

Sarah Julian is the Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC). On July 16, the OPSRC is hosting an open house for anyone who is interested in learning more about the organization. You can register at http://nwea.us/OkieEdOPSRC.

opsrcIt’s news to no one that our public schools face enormous challenges in virtually every area of operations, including finances.  Oklahoma education funding is among the lowest in the nation and yet mandates remain, leaving schools without the proper resources to support them. 

Smaller schools and districts feel this more intensely, as they don’t often have the funding to support full-time staff in key areas of administration and support services for teachers and students. Because of this, we often see school staff juggling multiple roles to the point where it affects instruction, burnout becomes widespread, and ultimately, students suffer. 

 This is where the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC) comes in.  OPSRC was created as a non-profit center with the goal of supporting small schools—both rural and public charters—across the state in several key areas: finance, legal, technology, communications, teaching & learning, and educational policy.

continue reading Providing essential resources to schools without the financial burden (Guest post: Sarah Julian)

Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition: Building self-sufficiency and prosperity (Guest Post: Christy Finsel)

by | July 8th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

ONACChristy Finsel is an enrolled tribal member of the Osage Nation and the Coordinator of the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition.  She has been engaged in asset building research and program design and implementation since 2003. 

Oklahoma is home to thirty-nine federally recognized tribes and their citizens.  Through Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, tribes and Native non-profits are administering innovative Native asset building programs such as financial education, credit builder workshops, Voluntary Income Tax Assistance sites, and entrepreneurship training programs.  Our partners also offer homeownership assistance and foreclosure prevention, emergency savings programs, matched savings accounts, and children’s savings account programs.  

History and Mission of ONAC

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ONAC staff and leadership team

Since 2007, the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, known as ONAC, has represented a consortium of Oklahoma tribes and partners interested in establishing asset-building initiatives and programs in Native communities.  ONAC has been coordinated and led by Native asset building practitioners.  The mission of our coalition is to build and support a network of Oklahoma Native people who are dedicated to increasing self-sufficiency and prosperity in their communities through the establishment of comprehensive financial education initiatives, Individual Development Accounts, and other asset-building strategies.  While we believe that individual assets are important, we also are interested in simultaneously building family and community assets.

continue reading Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition: Building self-sufficiency and prosperity (Guest Post: Christy Finsel)

Why tracking school readiness matters (Guest Post: Krista Schumacher & Naneida Lazarte Alcalá)

by | July 1st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education, Poverty | Comments (1)

risk and reach report coverNaneida Lazarte Alcalá is a Research Manager with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Oklahoma State University. Krista Schumacher is a Senior Researcher with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. She is working on a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation from Oklahoma State University. Both are members of Scholars Strategy Network.

Considerable research points to the dire consequences of starting school unprepared to learn. A combination of experiences and environments from the moment of birth shape a child’s likelihood of entering school developmentally ready and succeeding in the long term. Circumstances such as poverty, low maternal education, single-parent families, limited English skills, and abuse and neglect place children at extreme risk of starting kindergarten without the appropriate cognitive, social-emotional and behavioral skills necessary for learning.

Too often the burden of bridging the developmental gap between where children should be and where they actually are is placed squarely on schools. However, studies using data from the Kids Integrated Data System, which matches data on individual children across the Philadelphia school district with the city’s human services, health, and housing agencies, found that differences in student performance between schools was attributable more to the concentration of adverse early experiences among children than to school resources. Although school quality matters in terms of student supports that can be provided, schools cannot be held accountable for the skills, or lack thereof, children possess when they first enter a kindergarten classroom. This is a problem that must be addressed at the societal level.

continue reading Why tracking school readiness matters (Guest Post: Krista Schumacher & Naneida Lazarte Alcalá)

Oklahoma needs more primary care physicians, but we’re still putting up barriers (Guest post: JeVonna Caine)

by | June 4th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (1)

JeVonna_CaineJeVonna Caine, one of OK Policy’s 2013-14 Research Fellows, is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in Health Administration and Policy from the OU Health Sciences Center, while also working at the State Department of Health in the Health Planning & Grants department. She has an extensive background in community health education and research with previous positions at Georgetown University and Youth Services of Tulsa.

With the influx of insurance enrollment through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare), nationwide uninsured rates are at their lowest since 2008. This signals an impending increase in the demand for primary care services. However, Oklahoma is currently ranked 48th in the nation for access to primary care physicians (PCPs). Oklahoma needs to do better to grow the supply of primary care physicians, but we still put up significant barriers. Work-related stress, declining reimbursements and increasing administrative requirements all discourage medical students from training to be PCPs, particularly in rural communities.

continue reading Oklahoma needs more primary care physicians, but we’re still putting up barriers (Guest post: JeVonna Caine)

The debate on e-cigarettes lights up (Guest Post: Breanca Thomas)

by | May 29th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (1)

Breanca Thomas is a PhD student in Health Promotion Sciences in the College of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a 2013-14 OK Policy Research Fellow. She intends to pursue a research career focusing on effective methods of reducing health disparities among at-risk groups.

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Oklahoma leaders have been weighing e-cigarettes’ possible commercial and health benefits with their potentially harmful health effects. The caveat? Neither risks nor benefits of these products have clear evidence.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have gained popularity nationally and especially in Oklahoma. E-cigarettes are devices that simulate smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. The device contains liquid nicotine that is heated to produce a vapor similar to cigarette smoke.

continue reading The debate on e-cigarettes lights up (Guest Post: Breanca Thomas)

A better way to understand and improve school performance (Guest Post: Ryan Miskell)

by | May 13th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (1)

 Ryan Miskell is an OK Policy Research Fellow and a research associate with the Oklahoma Center for Education Policy. He is working on his Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy Studies from The University of Oklahoma.

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School Capacity matrix developed by the Oklahoma Center for Education Policy http://okedpolicy.org/school-capacity/

Oklahoma, like most states, has been redesigning education policies to match requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver and to improve school performance. Policies like Common Core, the Reading Sufficiency Act, and additional end-of-instruction exams are intended to ensure students are on grade level and prepared for college, careers, and citizenship. The A-F Report Card Grading System is intended to make school performance clear and provide the necessary information to improve schools. Despite these good intentions, these policies have proven divisive and unpopular, so much so that the state legislature has passed, or plans to pass, measures that scale back or revoke these reforms.

continue reading A better way to understand and improve school performance (Guest Post: Ryan Miskell)

Everyone contributes, everyone benefits (Guest post: Howard Koerth)

by | May 9th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

potluck11Howard Koerth is an artist and Professor of Art at Rose State College in Midwest City. An earlier version of this post appeared as a letter in the Oklahoma Gazette.

Taxes in our society operate like a pot luck dinner; everyone gives a little and we all get to share of the feast.  Those who call for tax cuts, while at the same time wanting and expecting the state and social services they have grown accustomed to, are like people who would go to a pot luck dinner wanting to eat ham, potatoes, and homemade rolls while only taking a pack of Oreos or a couple packets of Koolaide.

continue reading Everyone contributes, everyone benefits (Guest post: Howard Koerth)

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