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Oklahoma has a tragic history when it comes to Indian education. Here’s how we’re turning it around.

by | August 3rd, 2015 | Posted in Education | Comments (1)

Bah-He-Toya-Mah is an OK Policy summer intern. She has a political science degree from Oklahoma City University and is completing postgraduate studies at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Tribal Administration and Governance program. Prior to OK Policy she worked at her tribe, The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma. She has interned with the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education in Washington D.C.

Pupils at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Pennsylvania (c. 1900)

Pupils at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Pennsylvania (c. 1900)

When President Obama visited our state recently, his first stop was the Choctaw Nation in southeast Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation covers some of the poorest parts of the state – where 32.3 percent of children live in poverty and unemployment rates are well above the rest of the state. Because of the serious economic struggles of the region and the strong partner that the federal government has in the Choctaw Nation, the area has been included in the first round of President Obama’s Promise Zones, where local and federal resources will be concentrated to improve human development and well-being.

Part of the Choctaw Nation Promise Zone initiative is an intensive summer school program for 4-year-olds to third graders, including both American Indian and non-American Indian children. It will be a new test of the U.S. government’s ability to partner with a tribe to improve education for all children. That partnership builds on Oklahoma’s recent successes with Indian Education. We have become a good model for the nation as a whole of how to begin overcoming our tragic history of using education in ways that damaged American Indian communities and culture.

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The Weekly Wonk: Americans with Disabilities Act, 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, and more

by | August 2nd, 2015 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

In The Know, OK Policy’s weekday morning news roundup, will be taking a break through Wednesday, August 5th, due to our third annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). You can follow along with SPI on Twitter with the hashtag #okspi.

In The Know will resume on Thursday, August 6th. If you don’t currently receive In The Know and would like to, you can sign up here.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, guest blogger and Summer Policy Institute 2014 participant Britany Burris explained why the Americans with Disabilities Act is a gift to all Americans. Executive Director David Blatt shared the importance of Medicaid and Medicare as they celebrate their 50th year. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed new Office of Juvenile Affairs charter schools for youth who are at risk or have special needs.

In a guest post, Laura Goldring of MaddieLuke, LTD called for more attention and advocacy around senior hunger. Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed Oklahoma’s heavily gendered political offices. A previous blog post examined the topic in greater detail.

OK Policy is hiring! We are seeking an experienced and effective policy analyst to lead our work on economic issues affecting low- and moderate-income Oklahomans. Applications are due by Monday, August 24th. You can learn more here

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New charter schools take on thorny challenge of educating troubled youth (Capitol Updates)

by | July 31st, 2015 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Education | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

For many years kids in our juvenile institutions have received their schooling from the school district in which the institution is located. The districts continued to receive the state allocation of funding for the students and signed a contract with the institutions to provide teachers and other educational necessities to provide the kids with an education. I’m not expert enough to know how well this has worked. But recently the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) sought and got legislation that allowed it to create its own charter school for kids incarcerated at the two juvenile institutions for delinquents and juvenile offenders. The schools have just begun their new operation. The idea looks promising.

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In The Know: Election board, advocates reach National Voter Registration Act agreement

by | July 31st, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Next week, In The Know will be suspended through Wednesday, August 5th, due to our Summer Policy Institute. In The Know will return on Thursday, August 6th.

Today In The News

State Election Board, advocacy groups reach agreement: Federal law requires that state agencies where people seek assistance additionally provide assistance in registering to vote. However, a group of Oklahoma-based organizations had raised concerns that state agencies weren’t complying with the law. The Election Board and advocacy groups have reached an agreement under which a range of state agencies will be required to ask clients if they want to register to vote, and to assist them with the registration process [Journal Record]. The Election Board is launching a website tracking the effort [Oklahoma State Elections Board]. Oklahoma has the country’s eighth-lowest voter registration rate [OK Policy].

Agencies providing care to Oklahomans with disabilities hit by reimbursement cut: Combined with a subsequent loss of federal matching funds, a 3.5 percent reimbursement cut to home- and community-based care developmental disability and aging services leaves equates to almost $9 million in cuts next year. Ed Lake, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, said in a letter that the cuts were necessary to balance his department’s budget, but care providers say it leaves already underfunded services further without needed resources [Tulsa World]. Appropriations for the state’s FY 2016 budget are 1.3 percent lower than appropriations for the prior year [OK Policy]. Oklahomans with disabilities wait nearly a decade on a waiting list to receive services [OK Policy].

Happy birthday, Medicare and Medicaid: The US’s two largest public health initiatives turned 50 this month. Over the last five decades, they’ve improved the health and financial security of nearly 1 in 3 Americans [OK Policy].

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Happy birthday, Medicare and Medicaid!

by | July 30th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

LBJ signing

President Johnson signing the legislation creating the Medicare and Medicaid programs, July 31, 1965

This is an edited and expanded version of a column that ran in the Journal Record.

Until a half-century ago, if you were elderly, poor, or living with a disability in America, chances are you were without health insurance and couldn’t get the medical care you needed. Thanks to Medicare and Medicaid, two landmark public initiatives that were signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson fifty years ago this month, the health and financial security of nearly one in three Americans has forever been improved.

Medicare, which covers almost all seniors and younger people with serious disabilities, pays for a wide range of preventive services, as well as hospital stays, prescription drugs, and critical medical supplies. Before Medicare, almost half of all Americans 65 and older were without health insurance. Today it’s only 2 percent. Between 1970 and 2010, Medicare contributed to a five-year increase in life expectancy at age 65 by providing early access to needed medical care. Medicare recipients are also less likely to miss needed care or have unmanageable medical bills than working-age adults with insurance, as a recent New York Times editorial noted.

Medicaid, the other program signed into law by President Johnson in July 1965,  may forever be Medicare’s less renowned and beloved sibling, but it is an equally important part of the health care safety net. Medicaid provides comprehensive medical coverage primarily to low-income children and pregnant women, while covering premiums, deductibles, and additional services such as long-term care for low-income seniors and people with disabilities who also receive Medicare.

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In The Know: State high school graduation rates drop

by | July 30th, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

High school graduation rates drop for all groups: According to the state Department of Education, 2013-2014 high school graduation data shows that Oklahoma’s high school graduation rate declined to 82.7 percent, down from 84.9 percent during the prior school year. Although graduation rates dropped across all measured groups, students living in poverty saw the largest decline [Oklahoma Watch]. However, the state is withholding graduation data for 58 percent of the state’s public school districts and charter schools, arguing that releasing the data would violate a law intended to protect student privacy. [Oklahoma Watch].

Teacher shortage unlikely to resolve soon: Although Oklahoma universities are producing education graduates at record rates, school districts are still reporting significant teacher shortages. This forces larger class sizes, which in turn leads more and more teachers to seek work out of state, with better pay and smaller class sizes [News9].

Some Oklahoma insurers now covering man-made earthquakes: Previously, fuzzily-worded language and contention over the cause of Oklahoma’s earthquake swarms left some Oklahomans unsure of whether earthquake damage caused to their home or property would be covered by their earthquake insurance. Now, some insurers will cover earthquake damage regardless of the cause, although earthquake-specific policies still need to be purchased separately from standard insurance [NewsOn6].

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More hands needed to tackle senior hunger (Guest post: Laura Goldring)

by | July 29th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Laura Goldring is CEO and Founder at MaddieLuke, LTD based in Duncan, OK.  An earlier version of this article was posted to LinkedIn.

If you have not seen the 2013 documentary, “A Place At The Table,” I strongly encourage you to set aside 90 minutes and prepare yourself for the wide range of thoughts and emotions this film will provoke. Regardless of your political position, socially-based opinions, or long-held stereotypes of how poverty functions, I am confident you will be challenged in your thinking at least once and will find yourself pondering how you can begin to make a difference in your own little corner of the world.

My little corner of the world is Southwest Oklahoma. My husband and I own a small for-profit company that facilitates service delivery for the supportive services aspect of the Older Americans Act. The Older Americans Act is one of a very few programs whose service delivery is not based on an individual meeting the low-income threshold. Specifically, we provide outreach, health promotion, help with chores, home repair, caregiver respite, caregiver support groups, grandparent respite, and grandparent support groups services to individuals aged 60+ and caregivers.

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In The Know: 2 injection wells shutting down, 1 reducing activity after earthquakes

by | July 29th, 2015 | 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

2 injection wells shutting down, 1 reducing activity after earthquakes: Stephens Production and Devon Energy each voluntarily closed one well, and Stephens reduced operations at another well by 50 percent, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the area, although people reported feeling the 4.5 quake as far as 650 miles away in Indiana and Minnesota, according to the USGS [Associated Press].

Job growth shifts away from Oklahoma and other oil patch states: Jobs in construction, education and health, and leisure and hospitality have rebounded broadly over the past year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released on Friday. In contrast, combined employment in six states that rank near the top in both oil and gas production – Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma – has now fallen for the past four months [Reuters]. Oklahoma shed a total of 2,100 jobs last month and the unemployment rate climbed to 4.5 percent [Associated Press].

But we’re hiring: OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective policy analyst to lead our work on economic issues affecting low- and moderate-income Oklahomans [OK Policy Blog]. The full job description and information on how to apply is available here.

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We’re hiring!

by | July 28th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

okpolicy_mugs

OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective policy analyst to lead our work on economic issues affecting low- and moderate-income Oklahomans. Click here to see the full job description and for information on how to apply.

The policy analyst will conduct research and analysis on state policy issues, with a particular focus on economic opportunity, financial security, inequality, and disparities. Primary responsibilities will also include directing the Oklahoma Assets Network, a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations led by OK Policy working to build stronger financial foundations for all Oklahomans.

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In The Know: State will open up tax amnesty later this year

by | July 28th, 2015 | 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

State will open up tax amnesty later this year: Under a bill introduced in the closing days of this year’s session to help with the state’s large budget shortfall, Oklahomans with delinquent state taxes will have from Sept. 14 through Nov. 13 to pay or set up a payment plan without owing any penalty or interest. Oklahoma Tax Commission researchers estimate that the amnesty will bring in $35 million over two months [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Supreme Court reaffirms Ten Commandments monument at Capitol must go: The justices denied a request by the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission to rethink the court’s June 30 decision that the statue’s placement violates the state constitution’s ban on the use of state property for the benefit of religion. Earlier in July, Governor Mary Fallin had said she would keep the monument in place while lawmakers sought a way to block the decision. [Reuters].

Americans with Disabilities Act is a gift to all Americans: On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the civil rights law for people with disabilities, was signed into law, making discrimination against people with disabilities illegal. It affected all sections of public life and gave people with disabilities the same rights as everyone else. It told society that people with disabilities were not worth less than others [OK Policy Blog].

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