In The Know: State Board of Education delays rehiring testing vendor

by | September 26th, 2014 | 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.

The State Board of Education chose Thursday to delay the decision to rehire testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill. The company had previously been fired following two consecutive years of statewide disruptions during testing. Despite calls for her resignation from a Board member and a state legislator following accusations of cronyism, state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi says she is not stepping down.

The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board is calling for Barresi’s resignation, arguing that she has lost the confidence of the state Board of Education and the people of Oklahoma. The state Board of Education also unveiled and approved membership of a standards creation steering committee on Thursday, over Barresi’s attempts to amend the motion. The committee will oversee the standards creation process approved this year following the repeal of Common Core. The Tulsa World spoke to three retired educators on the eve of their inductions to the Oklahoma African-American Educators Hall of Fame about their memories of desegregation in Tulsa. We’ve written before about how Tulsa schools are still largely segregated by race and income.

Oklahoma’s remodeled execution chamber, complete with reformed protocols, will be completed in time for executions in November, according to state Department of Corrections director Robert Patton. A federal judge had previously expressed concern regarding the state’s ability to meet the November deadline. A statewide campaign against “smurfing,” wherein a third party purchases pseudoephedrine for a meth cook who may be barred from purchasing the drug, kicked off Thursday. State officials hope the campaign will stem the production of methamphetamine in Oklahoma. In his Journal Record column, Arnold Hamilton argued that legislators’ recent efforts to push for a religious monument at the state Capitol is a cynical power play. The Oklahoma Gazette described tensions over energy production in Oklahoma, from earthquakes to taxation.

State officials have announced that Oklahoma exceeded its year-two Complete College America goals, achieving more than double the target number of degrees and certificates. The initiative aims to increased the number of degrees and certificates earned in the state by 1,700 per year through 2023. KGOU described how a growing trend of renting properties in downtown Oklahoma City could force people looking for affordable housing to outlying neighborhoods.

StateImpact explained confusion and controversy over the ‘Waters of the United States’ designation, the federal government’s attempt to define which bodies of water qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. Some state officials claim it represents a federal takeover of Oklahoma’s waterways and an additional headache for the state’s farmers and ranchers. Due to worsening drought, Oklahoma farmers have begun to plant winter wheat earlier than normal this year, hoping to use what little moisture remains in the soil.

The Number of the Day is the number of unintentional injury deaths in Oklahoma in 2012, 1 out of every 16 deaths in the state that year. The leading causes of unintentional injury death include poisonings, motor vehicle crashes, and falls. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic makes the economic case for paternity leave.

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In The Know: State Education Department officials want to rehire fired testing vendor

by and | September 25th, 2014 | 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.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is asking the state Board of Education to approve a no-bid contract with the same vendor the department fired after two years of statewide testing disruptions. Oklahoma Watch discussed why the state may have little choice but to rehire CTB/McGraw-Hill to handle winter testing. Outgoing State Superintendent Janet Barresi has created a new assistant state superintendent position and hired the husband of a top Education Department official to fill it, raising questions about cronyism.  The state Department of Education will hold town hall meetings across the state to discuss the academic standards Oklahoma is reverting to after the repeal of Common Core and how the loss of the No Child Left Behind waiver will influence local schools.

Ozy Magazine reported on how tax cut politics are evolving across the country in the wake of Kansas’ huge budget shortfalls and faltering economy. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses why Oklahoma’s economy has not recovered as well as some state politicians are claiming. Former Oklahoma Health Care Authority Director Mike Fogarty wrote an op-ed in the Oklahoman refuting arguments made by the paper against expanding Medicaid. The OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma’s community health centers are threatened by falling state funding for uncompensated care.

The Oklahoman editorial board wrote that the state needs to move into the 21st century in how we think about mental illness. A new study shows nearly three out of four young Oklahomans are ineligible for military service for reasons related to obesity, lack of education or having a criminal record. You can read the full report here

A Center for Public Integrity analysis shows that nearly two of every three dollars spent on TV advertising in the state school superintendent race were spent attacking candidates. Biologists say a prehistoric fish native to the Arkansas River is on the brink of being wiped out in Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation has broken ground on a new $10 million tribal complex in McAlester.

The Number of the Day is how much Oklahoma put in a fund to reimburse uncompensated care at community health centers this year. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times examines how economic insecurity has contributed to falling marriage rates in America. On the OK Policy Blog we previously discussed why the decline in marriage is a symptom of poverty, not the cause.

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Flatline: Funding cuts threaten Oklahoma’s community health centers

by | September 24th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)
flatline

Photo by Sean Dreilinger.

Last winter, Oklahoma’s community health centers (CHCs) received some unwelcome news. A state fund for cover uncompensated care had run dry seven months early. Community health centers, which are among the very few places that low-income Oklahomans can get care regardless of ability to pay, struggled to cut costs without cutting essential services until the state fiscal year ended in July. 

This year, CHCs calculated that they would need $9 million to cover fiscal year 2015 uncompensated costs.  But by the time the budgetary dust settled, CHCs were allocated just $2.55 million – less than one-third of what they’d asked for, and even less than the $3.12 million FY 2014 funding that ran out before half the year was over.

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In The Know: Okmulgee County jail director blames overcrowding for recent riot

by and | September 24th, 2014 | 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.

The Okmulgee County jail director said extreme overcrowding was the cause of a recent violent outbreak that caused $10,000 in damage and sent one inmate to the hospital. The ACLU of Oklahoma said they’ve seen a scary increase in the number and severity of complaints they are receiving from inmates at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center. The director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals wrote that a federal takeover of Oklahoma prisons may be the last hope for corrections officers. The Oklahoma wrote an op-ed defending the media’s role in witnessing executions, which the state attorney general’s office argued does not “play a particularly positive role in the functioning of the process.”

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of a man who was being held at the Tahlequah City Jail. A state medical examiner’s autopsy report found that a man who fatally stabbed an Oklahoma City police dog was shot four times in the back while running away from the officer who shot him, which contradicts police accounts of the shooting. Although fewer numbers of methamphetamine labs are being discovered across the state, the number of meth-related overdose deaths continues to rise.

Key members of the Oklahoma House met recently with top backers of the half-finished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City to discuss the way forward for the long-stalled state project. Hillcrest Medical Center will begin offering perinatal palliative care for infants expected to live only hours or days after birth. This will be the first hospital in Oklahoma offering the service, though in February legislators voted to require abortion providers to tell women whose children will not survive long after birth that the service is available. Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear announced the tribe will boycott FedEx due to its relationship with the Washington Redskins NFL team.

Enid News reported on Together Oklahoma’s forum in Enid, the first stop of a tour helping Oklahomans understand and get involved in public policy. You can read more about the Together Tuesday tour here. Oklahoma is one of seven states joining the push to add a civics exam requirement to graduate high school. Oklahoma Policy Institute announced our latest class of research fellows and interns. Supporters of an initiative petition to place storm shelters in every Oklahoma public school say they are launching a final push to get enough signatures to put the measure on a statewide ballot with just four weeks left to gather them.

An essay in This Land Press discusses Oklahoma’s dramatic political shifts over the state’s history. As summer ends, drought conditions are still prevailing in much of the state with little relief in sight. Tulsa World editor Adam Daigle discussed his struggles taking a five-day challenge to survive on a food stamp budget. OK Policy previously explained the policy basics of Oklahoma’s food security safety net. The Number of the Day is the poverty rate for Native Americans in Oklahoma in 2013, 6.1 percentage points higher than the state as a whole. In today’s Policy Note, CityLab examines why Americans moving between states has reached a historic low.

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Introducing our new class of Research Fellows and interns

by | September 23rd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (1)

graduation-cap-10Oklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce the selection of four Oklahoma graduate students as our second class of OK Policy Research Fellows.

The 2014-15 Research Fellows are all distinguished by a combination of strong research interests and an active personal commitment to improving the well-being of disadvantaged Oklahomans:

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In The Know: Dorman, Fallin launch TV ads in governor’s race

by and | September 23rd, 2014 | 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.

With about six weeks left before the general election, state Rep. Joe Dorman and Gov. Mary Fallin have launched new TV ads for their campaigns. KGOU shared audio from a panel at OK Policy’s Summer Policy Institute, which discussed the state’s fiscal policy challenges and how massive education cuts may cost the state jobs. The state will ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to validate the legality of a $120 million Capitol repair bond measure after an attorney challenged its constitutionality.

In an interview with Huffington Post Live, state Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) said he stands behind his comments that be believes Islam is a cancer, and he argued that Islam is not a religion. Meanwhile, the director of an Oklahoma Muslim group said he received a threat calling for his death and the death of all Muslims in America. Heavily armored military vehicles purchased this summer by Tulsa police and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office are each expected to be operational within the next 30 to 60 days. The Oklahoman previously reported on how Oklahoma law enforcement agencies are stocking up on military-grade equipment through a Defense Department program that offers the equipment at a small fraction of its original price.

Prosecutors filed charges Monday against a Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputy who is accused of committing sexual misconduct while on duty. The OK Policy Blog discussed how a push by lawmakers to expand the taking of DNA samples from anyone who has been arrested could end up sending innocent Oklahomans to prison. A Pittsburg County district judge will hear arguments today from attorneys seeking to force the state to release a report that allegedly recommended closure of the Narconon drug rehabilitation facility after three patients died. The lawsuit claims that the state concealed the report because they did not want to get involved with litigation involving the Church of Scientology, which runs Narconon.

On the A View From The Edge blog, Jenks principal Rob Miller showed what it might look like if we discussed doctors the same way we discussed teachers in Oklahoma. This Land Press examined how Tulsa and other U.S. cities have struggled with the legacy of race riots and massacres of African-Americans. Oklahoma City Public Schools officials are considering pre-employment and post-employment drug testing for teachers, administrators and support staff. Oklahoma’s Alcoholic Beverage and Laws Enforcement Commission said they may become “more aggressive” over funds diverted from the agency by the federal government if the money is not reimbursed. A potential water emergency faces the City of Cleveland in Pawnee County, after a drought has caused a lake that is the town’s only water source to drop 11 feet below normal.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma nursing homes with “severe deficiencies,” defined as violations of state or federal law that resulted in resident injury, abuse, neglect or death. In today’s Policy Note, the Economic Policy Institute discusses what we can do about the stagnating wages for most Americans.

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Indiscriminate DNA testing could put innocent Oklahomans in prison

by | September 22nd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (0)
Photo by John Goode used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by John Goode used under a Creative Commons license.

For several years, Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) has proposed legislation to require taking DNA samples from everyone who has been arrested in Oklahoma (more recent attempts scaled it back to those arrested and held over for trial). These samples would be checked against a large database to see if the DNA shows up in crime scenes nationwide. 

The bill has never garnered enough votes to pass, though Rep. Denney is continuing to push — this year she’s holding an interim study to build support for the idea. Meanwhile, a recent Journal Record column by law professor Andrew Spiropoulos attempts to back her up.

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In The Know: Despite good grades, suburban districts unhappy with A-F report card

by and | September 22nd, 2014 | 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.

Despite scoring high marks on the most recent A-F grades for schools, officials with the Edmond, Moore and Norman districts say the grades don’t paint a complete picture of their schools because they are based on state-mandated standardized test scores and little else. The okeducationtruths blog pointed out that the grades are once again strongly correlated with poverty levels in schools. The latest episode of the OK PolicyCast discusses new Census data that shows what’s happening with poverty in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate increased slightly in August

Attendees at the 20th annual Zarrow Mental Health Symposium discussed how law enforcement officers and society as a whole can learn how to effectively respond to mentally illness. You can follow tweets from the conference using the hashtag #AllThingsPrevention. An Oklahoma County district judge ruled that a Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol can stay. The Tulsa World discussed three separate cases this summer of Oklahoma law enforcement officers being arrested for serial sexual assaults while on duty. The OK Policy Blog discussed how a new domestic violence lethality assessment being used by law enforcement could save lives.

Oklahoma district attorneys are speaking in frustration over what they say is a severe underfunding of their offices in the face of “staggering” caseloads. A group of residents living south of two Cleveland County prisons must continue their search for drinkable water after the Oklahoma Corrections Department said it lacked the authority to partner with them to build a new well system. NewsOK is running a series on small towns in Oklahoma. NewsOK also examined the troubles of prominent Oklahoma Republican political consulting firm A.H. Strategies, which is facing a criminal investigation and has lost its three most high-profile races this year.

Tulsa World editor Julie Delcour wrote that Oklahoma’s refusal to adopt new federal ID requirements is about to become real, when Oklahomans can’t board a plane using their driver’s license. The Environmental Protection Agency and state officials are commemorate the completion of major cleanup efforts in nine communities near the Tar Creek Superfund site. While more than 300,000 people congregated in New York City for the world’s biggest march about climate change, about 150 Tulsans marched in support. Continental Resources has unveiled a new oil formation in south-central Oklahoma that its CEO says will elevate the state as an oil producer.

The Number of the Day is the poverty rate for women in Oklahoma, which is 1.5 percentage points higher than the state as a whole. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post shares what some of the millions of Americans who have enrolled in Medicaid under that Affordable Care Act think of the program.

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The Weekly Wonk September 21, 2014

by | September 21st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week, we examined new Census Bureau data and found Oklahoma’s poverty rate declined only slightly from 2012 to 2013, and that median incomes have yet to reach pre-recession levels. Policy Director Gene Perry was quoted in the Tulsa World’s coverage of the new data.

We explained Oklahoma’s broken electoral system and reviewed implications that the Governor’s office may be willing to restart criminal justice reform efforts. A guest blog post discussed how new domestic violence assessments performed by police could save Oklahoma women’s lives.

On this week’s PolicyCast, we talked about the new Census data, controversy over special needs students and newly released A-F grades for schools, the health of Oklahoman people and democracy, and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column this week, Executive Director David Blatt shared the story of a conservative, wealthy businessman’s reasoning behind supporting a minimum wage increase. KWGS watched a presentation Blatt gave on Oklahoma’s health issues and concluded that the state has a long way to go. 

In our Editorial of the Week, The Tahlequah Daily Press wrote that comments by state Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) are advancing unfounded hatred and suspicion against Oklahoma’s Muslims.

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OK PolicyCast: Episode 8

by | September 19th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

radio micYou can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

This week we discuss new Census data that shows what’s happening with poverty in Oklahoma; controversy over special needs students and newly released A-F grades for schools; how Oklahoma’s doing on the health of our people and the health of our democracy; & more…

Download the podcast here or play it in your browser:

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