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Today In The News
Oklahoma Supreme Court hears arguments on 1-cent tax increase: The Oklahoma Supreme Court is deciding the constitutionality of a proposed initiative for a penny sales tax election to boost teacher salaries. Opponents say the proposal violates a part of the state constitution requiring that such measures embrace only one general subject. Backers say the subject is improving education in Oklahoma, even though the plan has several facets, including raising public school teacher salaries by $5,000, providing more money for higher education and vocational education and funding these changes through a penny increase in the sales tax [NewsOK].
Oklahoma’s budget woes could hamper services, groups say: Groups expressed concern Wednesday that a revenue failure for the current fiscal year and large budget hole for the next fiscal year will seriously hamper the state’s ability to provide core services. Officials said the poor revenue outlook is a result of depressed oil prices. Others blamed revenue lost due to the Legislature’s unwillingness to reduce economic incentives that benefit certain groups and industries. Some pointed toward a series of cuts to the income tax [Tulsa World].
Study shows higher teacher pay would ease teacher shortage, boost student outcomes: Evidence of the teacher shortage crisis facing Oklahoma has become overwhelming and undeniable. Since 2008, Oklahoma has cut per pupil state aid funding for public schools by almost one-quarter after inflation, the most of any state in the nation. The average pay for Oklahoma teachers is now third lowest in the nation and well below that of neighboring states [OK Policy]. This post is the second in a three-part series examining the reasons behind Oklahoma’s teacher shortage and what we can do to fix it; you can read the first post here.
Same foundation that helped OK implement A-F school report cards now involved in system’s revision: Recommendations for revising Oklahoma’s controversial A-F school report card system are set for public release Thursday, but state officials say real change to the system is unlikely in 2016. In a surprise twist, officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Education say Superintendent Hofmeister sought out and is considering the input of the Jeb Bush-founded Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was heavily involved with Oklahoma’s initial implementation of the controversial A-F system, as well as new Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist [Tulsa World].
Gratias Deus pro Mississippi: While Oklahoma’s official motto is “Labor omnia vincit,” or “Labor conquers all things,” last week brought another sad reminder of why our unofficial motto seems to be “Gratias Deus pro Mississippi,” or “Thank God for Mississippi.” In a national score card of state health system performance released by the Commonwealth Fund, Oklahoma dropped to 50th place among all the states and the District of Columbia, surpassing only Mississippi [David Blatt / Journal Record].
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