Skip to Content

Why Oklahoma’s attempt to ban teacher payroll deductions may not be enforceable (Capitol Updates)

by | June 19th, 2015 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Education | Comments (1)

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.

There’s an interesting legal battle brewing over whether HB 1749 by Rep. Tom Newell (R-Seminole) and Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Tulsa) can actually be enforced once it goes into effect on November 1st.  A law firm that represents a majority of the school districts in the state is advising the districts that the law was written in such a way as to make it unenforceable.  The legal department of the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teacher association, apparently agrees.

HB 1749 is the new law that prohibits school districts from withholding payroll deductions for membership dues of organizations that collectively bargain with the districts under federal law.  The law was passed on the theory that the state shouldn’t assist organizations that represent their members in bargaining with the districts for better salaries, benefits or employment conditions.  Current state law, which was not repealed in the new law, provides that “School districts shall make payroll deductions for either or both professional organization dues and political contributions upon the request of any school employee and shall transmit deducted funds to the organization designated by the school district employee.”

Continue Reading »

Where are they now? Bills we followed this session (Part 1)

by | June 16th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice, Education | Comments (0)

This year’s Legislative session began with promising ideas for reforms in the areas of criminal justice, elections, and tax credits, as well as a continuation of the debate over modifying past years’ education reforms. Before long, it became clear that lawmakers’ most difficult task would be dealing with a large budget shortfall due to a fall in gas prices, the multiplication of tax cuts and tax breaks, and increasing off-the-top transfers of revenue.

Here we provide a run-down of many of the key bills we followed and how they fared. As the first of a two-part series, this post examines this year’s most important education and criminal justice bills.

Continue Reading »

Flat funding still means cuts for Oklahoma’s core services

by | June 9th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Education, Healthcare | Comments (0)

In crafting a budget in the face of a large drop in available revenue, lawmakers this year made a sincere effort to minimize cuts to key agencies in the areas of education, health, and safety. Whereas most agencies took cuts of 0.25 to 7 percent, the Department of Education received flat funding, and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Department of Corrections, Department of Human Services and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services received modest funding increases.

Yet even these agencies weren’t funded enough to keep up existing services when faced with growing caseloads and enrollment, rising costs, reduced funding from other sources, and other factors. As a result, most will need to make cuts to next year’s budget.

Continue Reading »

Will this be Oklahoma’s next education reform controversy?

by | April 28th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (3)

A recent pattern in Oklahoma education policy has been major education reforms passed in earlier years becoming highly controversial just as they are about to go into effect. A strong pushback from parents and educators has led to the rollback or modification of numerous reforms, from Common Core Standards to 3rd grade retention, A-F school grades, and end-of-instruction exams.

Another way to put it is that many of yesterday’s solutions have become today’s problems. Now another major reform is scheduled to be implemented next year, but lawmakers are working to head it off before this solution turns into the next problem.

Continue Reading »

House bill threatens Oklahoma’s Promise

by | April 27th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (3)

In today’s economy, a college education is more important for finding a good job and earning a decent income. Yet for children of low- and moderate-income families, the cost of higher education can be a substantial barrier to enrolling in and completing college. Over the past two decades, the Oklahoma’s Promise financial aid program has been the key for thousands of students to get a college degree – but legislation being considered this session could put the program out of reach for many students.

Oklahoma’s Promise, also known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program, or OHLAP, is an early commitment financial aid program that covers tuition for students with family income below $50,000 at the time of application. Students must apply prior to the start of the 11th grade and complete a series of requirements before graduating from high school. Once enrolled in college, students must maintain a minimum GPA and follow behavioral guidelines.

Continue Reading »

Uncertain future for third grade reading reforms

by | April 22nd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (0)

One year ago, parents and educators organized a powerful campaign to amend a state law that would have automatically retained thousands of 3rd-grade children who failed a standardized reading test. In response, the Legislature passed a bill temporarily revising the law, and then  mustered the two-thirds super-majority needed to overturn the Governor’s veto of the bill. This year, a strong effort is underway to make last year’s fix permanent – but the supporters of automatic retention are not giving up.

Continue Reading »

Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

by | April 9th, 2015 | Posted in Education | Comments (5)

John Waldron

John Waldron is a history teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. His earlier contribution to the OK Policy Blog is “The public education crunch goes from bad to worse.”

On March 30 I took a group of teachers and students to Oklahoma City for the Brighter Future Education Rally sponsored by the Oklahoma PTA.  It wasn’t my first rodeo. As a public school teacher, I have attended at least four rallies over the last fifteen years, including last year’s record-breaking gathering of 30,000 outside the capitol building. But this was my first attempt to go inside and talk directly to the people who write the legislation and budget for our public schools. It was an eye-opening experience.

Continue Reading »

What needs to happen after the education rally (Steve Lewis Capitol Updates)

by | April 3rd, 2015 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Education | Comments (2)

Education-RallySteve 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.

This week put the focus on public schools — at least that was the intention of several thousand teachers and other education supporters who rallied at the Capitol Monday.  Last year’s rally did not seem to produce much in terms of results.  Education supporters should be in the effort for the long term, but I’m not sure what success would look like for the rally this year.  At the least, supporters will demonstrate that they are still around and still unhappy with the status quo.  But in a year with a shortage of funds and few substantive proposals to rally around it’s going to be hard to produce any tangible victories.

Continue Reading »

Don’t ban bilingual education (Guest post: Shannon Guss and Ryan Gentzler)

by | March 31st, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (0)
Photo by Texas A&M University

Photo by Texas A&M University

Shannon Guss is the Educare Project Director at the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma  – Tulsa. Ryan Gentzler is a Research Associate at ECEI and an OK Policy Research Fellow.

With two bills from 2011 and again this year with SB 522, Oklahoma legislators have proposed to ban bilingual education in Oklahoma. These bills would have dramatically expanded the impact of State Question 751, which established English as the official language of the state. Although the bills failed both this year and in 2011, we should be troubled by these repeated attempts to ban a proven, effective method for educating students.

For all students, and especially those in early childhood (birth to eight years of age), a large and growing body of evidence shows that learning two languages offers a wide array of enduring benefits. Dr. Linda Espinosa, the keynote speaker at the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at OU-Tulsa in 2008 and 2009, completed a synthesis of research on the subject that highlights cognitive, academic, and social benefits of learning two languages from an early age. Below, we summarize some of the most important takeaways from her 2013 report.

Continue Reading »

Fact Check: Would school consolidation boost Oklahoma teacher salaries?

by | March 24th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (7)

truth-o-meterIn a recent press release, Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) made some claims about how much Oklahoma might be able to improve teacher salaries through school consolidation. He said, “The state of Oregon has the exact same population as Oklahoma but more students and yet has only 200 school districts. I don’t find it a coincidence that their average teacher pay is $12,000 more than Oklahoma’s.”

Sen. Loveless is right that it’s not a coincidence, but he’s missed the mark on the reason why.

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 13