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In The Know: State education board votes to allow data release

by | September 1st, 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.

Today In The News

State education board votes to allow data release: It just got easier to find out basic details about Oklahoma school districts, such as graduation rates, after the state repealed a controversial rule used to redact data for many districts. The state Board of Education voted 6-0, with Cathryn Franks absent, to repeal a rule that was used to redact the graduation rates for 58 percent of the states school districts [Oklahoma Watch].

Asset forfeiture: Do police seize innocent people’s money?: On a March evening in 2013, William Cicco drove away from his Broken Arrow home with a paper bag on the front passenger seat containing $15,555 in cash. He and his wife had been arguing. Cicco left with what he said was money from their savings and a second-mortgage loan. He never imagined the cash would make him a suspect in drug trafficking [Oklahoma Watch].

Prison and medicine: Costing Oklahoma: Last year, the state of Oklahoma spent over $84-million on medication for inmates in the Oklahoma Department of Correction.  As in society, prison populations are aging.  Here in Oklahoma, 17% of the prison population is over the age of 50 and increasing annually [KWGS].

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In The Know: State law enforcement seized at least $6.1M over five years

by | August 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.

Today In The News

ACLU review finds Oklahoma law enforcers seized $6.1 million in properties along I-40: Law enforcement officers in a dozen Oklahoma counties along Interstate 40 seized $6.1 million in civil forfeiture actions over a 5-year period, with nearly two-thirds of the money taken in cases where no criminal charges were filed. That’s according to an American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma review of court records for 12 of the 13 counties along the I-40 corridor [NewsOK]. Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) says he’s withdrawing his request for an interim study on civil asset forfeiture laws in Oklahoma and instead plans a panel discussion on the issue [Tulsa World].

Mental health crisis teams provide a hospital without walls: For more than a decade in Tulsa, intensive, wrap-around support teams have been helping people in the city who face the most significant mental health diseases.  This is the last step before long-term institutionalization or even incarceration. The OU IMPACT team finds them, whether in their own homes, under a bridge, in a homeless shelter or crashing on a friend’s sofa [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma County jail not set up for mental health patients, experts say: Jail leaders say that the county needs a new jail, in large part, because of how mental health services must be delivered in the current jail. The Oklahoma County jail was not built with people with mental illnesses in mind. Not only was the jail built without a mental health unit but also without a medical floor or offices for physicians [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Clean Power Plan could create opportunity in Oklahoma

by | August 28th, 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.

Today In The News

Why Obama’s Clean Power Plan could mean opportunity for some industries in Oklahoma: President Obama’s Clean Power Plan enraged many top officials in Oklahoma, who argued the rules were an expensive, unnecessary overreach by the federal government. But the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could create opportunities in Oklahoma, researchers and officials say [StateImpact Oklahoma]. In fact, such projects are already in place or in the process of being implemented [OK Policy].

For special-needs students, a ration of corporal punishment: At dozens of Oklahoma schools, special-needs students received corporal punishment – generally paddling – at much higher rates than their peers. Proponents of the practice say it is needed to ensure order in the classroom. Opponents say paddling has no long-term benefit and can traumatize students, especially special-needs children, who have conditions such as hyperactive attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities [Oklahoma Watch].

Join us for the Fall Policy Institute! Do you want a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing Oklahoma and how you can have a greater impact on policy decisions? If so, you’ll want to attend the 1st OK Policy Fall Policy Boot Camp (FallPol) on October 3rd, 2015 at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond [OK Policy].

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In The Know: Plan to create rural residencies for med students unveiled

by | August 27th, 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.

Today In The News

Plan aired to bring docs to rural areas: Oklahoma State University officials on Wednesday announced a six-year, $3.8 million grant from the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to help fund a medical residency program in mostly rural parts of the state.  OSU President Burns Hargis said the money from the trust fund will be matched with $5.6 million in federal funding through the Oklahoma Health Care Authority [The Republic]. Increasing the number of rural providers can help improve Oklahoma’s health care as a whole by strengthening access to care [OK Policy].

Upcoming event: Zarrow Mental Health Symposium: Mental Health Association Oklahoma will host the 21st annual Zarrow Mental Health Symposium September 17 – 18, 2015 at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa (100 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103). This year’s theme is “Integrating Healthcare: Treating Mind, Body, and Spirit” [OK Policy].

Memorial held for Labor Commissioner Mark Costello: A memorial gathering for lain state Labor Commissioner Mark Costello was held at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tulsa on Wednesday [Tulsa World]. Costello’s body will lie in repose in the Capitol rotunda today [KOCO]. Costello’s family has requested donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Oklahoma in lieu of flowers [KSWO].

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In The Know: State in mini-recession due to oil downturn, economist says

by | August 26th, 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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma is already in mini-recession, economist says: Factoring Friday’s U.S. and state labor reports into RegionTrack’s adjusted database, he said Oklahoma energy industry job losses exceeded 9,000 from December through July, leaving overall state employment down about 2,000 positions, because of gains in other areas [Journal Record]. Falling oil prices have led Oklahoma companies like Samson Resources to prepare to file for bankruptcy, and others have lost nearly all of their stock market value. Experts say many of them borrowed money last year thinking the market would eventually pick back up and they’d be able to pay it back. But that hasn’t happened [NewsOn6].

Oil prices have ripple effect on local economy: On Tuesday, the price of a barrel of oil was $39, that’s a 30 percent drop from this spring. The drop in oil prices has lead to thousands of layoffs. Houston-based Baker Hughes cut more than 10,000 jobs this year, including 150 jobs in Claremore. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the layoffs have a ripple effect [KJRH]. Oklahomans are paying the lowest gasoline prices for this time of year since 2004 [KJRH].

Community Eligibility Provision can help make Oklahoma schools hunger-free: Part of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, the Community Eligibility Provision allows high-poverty schools to provide breakfast and lunch at no charge for all students in some schools, groups of schools, and school districts. This ensures that all students have access to healthy, regular meals, without the stigma of poverty that may come with eating a school lunch [OK Policy].

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In The Know: With 600 positions eliminated, teaching shortage tops 1,000 statewide

by | August 25th, 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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma’s teacher shortage: 600 positions eliminated but 1,000 vacancies remain: The latest survey of school districts by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association found that 1,000 teaching vacancies remain even after 600 teaching jobs were eliminated since last school year. Student enrollment is growing, and to grapple with the teacher shortage, school districts are seeking record numbers of emergency teaching certificates to allow applicants who haven’t completed basic higher education and training requirements to enter the classroom right away [Tulsa World]. The realities of the shortage for the Moore district include first-grade classes with up to 28 students or upper-elementary classes with 30 or more children [NewsOK].

Tulsa Public Schools literacy program students’ rate of learning: Students participating in the Reading Partners program at 15 Tulsa Public Schools elementary accelerated their rate of literacy learning and narrowed the gap between them and their peers last year, according to the organization’s impact report for 2014-2015. In Tulsa, 97 percent of the 838 students enrolled in Reading Partners last year increased their rate of literacy learning, according to the report. On average, those students tripled their rate of learning for every month they were enrolled in the program [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City Public Schools proposes expansion of aptitude testing: Oklahoma City Public Schools, which paid for 2,800 sophomores and juniors to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test in the spring, plans to expand this year’s offerings to include eighth- and ninth-graders, Superintendent Rob Neu announced this week. “This will give students and staff invaluable information on what our students need to do to be college ready,” Neu said Friday [NewsOK]. OKCPS is also offering parent engagement workshops on weekends beginning in September to help parents learn how to get involved in their children’s schools [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Oklahoma labor commissioner murdered in OKC

by | August 24th, 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

Oklahoma labor commissioner stabbed to death in OKC: State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello was stabbed to death Sunday night at a northwest Oklahoma City restaurant in what sources say was an attempted reconciliation gone bad with his son. Costello’s son, Christian Costello, 26, was taken into police custody and was being questioned by detectives late Sunday [NewsOK].

Lawmakers debate funding sources for teacher pay raises: Facing tight budgets and demands from Oklahoma teachers for their first across-the-board pay increase in years, lawmakers are suggesting non-traditional funding sources, much to the displeasure of those now using these funds. Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, calls it “robbing Peter to pay Paul” [NewsOK].

OKC Public Schools proposes to offer PSAT test to more grades: The district paid for 2,800 sophomores and juniors to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test in the spring. When the school board meets Aug. 31, it will consider a district recommendation to spend about $77,500 to expand this year’s offerings to include eighth- and ninth-graders [NewsOK].

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In The Know: Schools discipline special ed students at higher rates

by | August 21st, 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.

Today In The News

Schools discipline special education students at higher rates: Across the state, students with physical and mental disabilities are bearing much of the brunt of classroom discipline, government data show. They’re more likely than their peers to be suspended, expelled, arrested, handcuffed or paddled. In dozens of schools, special education students are anywhere from two to 10 times more likely to be disciplined, the data show. At some schools, every special education student has been physically disciplined, suspended or expelled [Oklahoma Watch]. Additionally, some students are simply sent home. In those cases, no disciplinary incident is recorded, making it difficult for parents and advocates know what’s happening in their kids’ schools [Oklahoma Watch].

Tulsa Public Schools begin year with no teacher vacancies: Throughout the district, nearly 500 new teachers were hired this year. On Wednesday, district officials announced that they had filled every teacher vacancy for the start of the school year. Earlier this week, Superintendent Deborah Gist called the feat “a historic moment” in a time of a statewide teacher shortage crisis. “This is a home run for our district and the children of Tulsa Public Schools,” Gist said in a news release sent out Wednesday [Tulsa World].

Settlement will help more Oklahomans vote: Under a 29-page settlement announced July 30th, each agency will be required to ask clients if they want to register to vote and provide help with the process as part of in-person, phone-based, and online client services. Each agency will assign a staff member to be responsible for coordinating voter registration services and training other employees. The Election Board will appoint a statewide coordinator to ensure compliance, and they will report monthly data on the number of completed voter registration applications and other indicators [OK Policy].

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In The Know: New state program allows students to take ACT for free

by | August 20th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, 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.

Today In The News

New state program gives Oklahoma juniors opportunity to take ACT for free: State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister announced Wednesday that a new, voluntary opt-in program would allow Oklahoma’s high school juniors to take the ACT for free. The the Oklahoma State Department of Education has earmarked $1.5 million from its assessments budget to pick up the costs for all public high school juniors to take the college-entrance exam in 2015-16. Although some lawmakers have questioned the decision, education advocate have lauded the move [Tulsa World].

State Department of Education to reconsider redactions: After the state Department of Education said that a rule forced them to redact graduation data from nearly 60 percent of the state’s school district, they will reconsider that rule. The state Board of Education is set to hear a proposal on Aug. 27 that could change an existing rule that requires data with fewer than 10 students be redacted. That meeting will be held in Lawton [Oklahoma Watch].

State pension systems report major decline: A panel overseeing the state’s seven pension systems reports each experienced a major drop in investment earnings over the last fiscal year compared to both the previous year and the average 10-year rate of return. The Oklahoma Pension Commission reported Wednesday the $28.8 billion invested across its pension systems gained an average of 3.6 percent during the fiscal year that ended June 30. That compares to an average gain of 19.9 percent during the previous fiscal year [Daily Journal].

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In The Know: State ranks high for Affordable Care Act sign-ups in special enrollment period

by | August 19th, 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 ranks high for Affordable Care Act sign-ups in special enrollment period: Nearly 11,500 Oklahomans who lost health insurance or were denied Medicaid benefits in the last year signed up for health insurance plans through a federal exchange, according to data released by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A higher percentage of Oklahomans with special circumstances bought plans on the federally run insurance exchange than the national average, according to CMS. Those who have lost a job, weren’t eligible for Medicaid, got married or had a baby or other special life circumstances can buy insurance before the open enrollment period begins in November [Journal Record].

Evaluating a carbon tax for Oklahoma: While economists have long endorsed a carbon tax as an economically efficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the idea hasn’t receive much political support. However, a growing number of voices from across the political spectrum have begun to endorse the idea of putting a price on carbon. As pressure increases in states and nationally to come up with a better policy response to climate change, does a carbon tax make sense for a politically conservative, oil-and-gas dependent state like Oklahoma? [OK Policy]

Oklahoma teacher unions file lawsuit to overturn new Oklahoma law: A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court seeks to overturn a new law that prohibits teachers from allowing union dues to be automatically deducted from their paychecks. The Oklahoma Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Oklahoma filed the lawsuit, along with one member from each organization [NewsOK]. In debate on the House floor, opponents of the bill said it was really intended to punish the Oklahoma Education Association for opposing school choice [OK Policy].

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