In The Know: April 28, 2011

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, more rigorous testing has led the percentage of Oklahoma schools failing to meet national standards to nearly quadruple to 41 percent. NewsOn6 reports on the dire situation of many Oklahomans with mental illness who are more likely to end up in prison than receive treatment. Meanwhile, the Sand Springs City Council denied a permit for transitional housing with substance abuse treatment after residents complained it would bring down property values.

With Oklahoma’s latest anti-immigrant bill passing the Senate and heading to conference committee, Fox23 reports on concerns that it would encourage ethnic profiling and harassment of Hispanics. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed this bill here. One day after it had been voted down, the House reversed course and approved two fee increases to fund a state trooper academy. The House also voted to increase the teacher retirement age from 62 to 65. Several Oklahoma House Democrats are strongly denouncing a tax credit for donations to private school scholarships while Republicans are defending it.

The state Senate voted to approve the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund, which will allow Gov. Fallin to make awards and fund infrastructure improvements for bringing specific companies to Oklahoma. On the OK Policy Blog, we previously wrote about the questionable history of closing funds in Oklahoma and Texas as well as general problems with economic development incentives directed at specific corporations. OKC Central highlights an article showing how the consulting firm that recommended a new convention center for Oklahoma City has made the same recommendation to every city it has studied.

In response to recent criticism of In The Know for linking to CapitolBeatOK, OK Policy Board Chair Vincent LoVoi has released a statement clarifying the identity and goals of OK Policy. On the Okie Funk blog, Kurt Hochenauer responds with more on CapitolBeatOK. The Batesline blog previews the upcoming Gov 2.0a conference, May 6-7 in Oklahoma City. In today’s Policy Note, The Urban Institute hosts a roundtable on ways to improve educational success for children of immigrants.

Read on for more.

In The News

More Oklahoma schools fail to meet national standards

The number of Oklahoma schools failing to make “adequate yearly progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act jumped dramatically from 2009 to 2010, according to preliminary data released by the nonprofit Center on Education Policy. The percentage nearly quadrupled to 41 percent in 2010 from 11 percent the previous year, the report said. Oklahoma’s surge in the number of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress in student achievement was associated with an increase in performance standards.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20110428_19_A1_Thenum787336.

Too many of Oklahoma’s mentally ill getting prison time instead of treatment

In Sand Springs, Oklahoma, Hissom Memorial Mental Hospital is quiet, closed and part of the national trend of deinstitutionalization that began in the 1960s. Intentions were good, but the promise of community based care was broken, creating new asylums behind bars. “If you have a brain disease, you are more likely to see the inside of a police car, a jail cell or a prison cell than you are to ever have access into a medical facility,” said Terri White, Commissioner of Mental Health. And the headlines are disturbing– from Louisiana where the mentally ill have been held in small cages, to Oklahoma where federal investigators found thorozine and restraints in lieu of treatment at the Oklahoma County Jail.

Read more from this NewsOn6 article at http://www.newson6.com/story/14528995/oklahoma-impa.

See also: Sand Springs City Council denies permit for transition house from KJRH

OK’s anti-immigration proposal on the move

Oklahoma legislators are making it clear they want to take a tougher stand against illegal immigration. However, the issue doesn’t get any easier but some say House Bill 1446 that has moved to Senate Conference Committee unfairly targets hardworking immigrants. While others says it doesn’t go far enough to penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants or to broaden the powers of local law enforcement. The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office says right now there are 215 people detained in the jail their citizenship in question. Some believe the illegal immigration proposals being considered right now could dramatically increase the number of detainees.

Read more from this Fox23 article at http://www.fox23.com/news/local/story/OKs-Anti-Immigration-Proposal-On-The-Move/0q0kaLlUIkmL34BdC4On_A.cspx.

Previously: Where Angels Fear to Tread: Oklahoma wades back into immigration debate from the OK Policy Blog

Oklahoma House OKs fee increase to fund trooper training

House members reversed themselves Wednesday and voted to increase not one but two fees to pay for training Oklahoma Highway Patrol recruits to help deal with the patrol’s lowest staffing levels in more than a decade. A bill that would double the fee to get a driver’s license reinstated was brought up again Wednesday, about 24 hours after the House of Representatives failed to pass the measure. Senate Bill 953, which failed Tuesday in the House by a vote of 43-41, passed Wednesday by a vote of 59-32. Minutes later, the House voted to increase copying fees for collision reports, with the extra money going to pay for a trooper academy that would produce 24 new troopers.

Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/oklahoma-house-oks-fee-increases-to-fund-trooper-training/article/3562585.

House approves raising teacher retirement age

Retirement age for most public school teachers hired after Nov. 1 would increase from 62 to 65 under a bill approved Wednesday by the House. Senate Bill 377 also would prevent anyone in their 50s from drawing earnings from the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System. The earliest anyone could be eligible to start collecting pension payments would be 60. A floor amendment approved Wednesday keeps intact the “rule of 90” for teachers. It allows teachers to draw retirement earnings if their age and years of service total 90.

Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/oklahoma-house-approves-raising-teacher-retirement-age/article/3562560.

Oklahoma House Democrats decry opportunity scholarship bill

After yesterday’s passage of Senate Bill 969 in the House of Representatives, three members of the House Democratic caucus decried the legislation as a “voucher bill” and said the legislation amounts to direct support of private schools. “Make no mistake about it, bills like the one heard today are all part of an effort to unravel our public education system – by labeling our public schools as failing while consistently underfunding them, by telling parents that public schools are not good and charter schools are the answer, and by advancing charter schools, which is a thinly veiled effort to privatize education under the guise of providing ‘choice’,” said Representative Emily Virgin, a Norman Democrat.

Read more from this CapitolBeatOK article at http://capitolbeatok.com/CustomContentRetrieve.aspx?ID=3886329.

See also: Conservatives praise passage of Opportunity Scholarship bill from CapitolBeatOK

State Senate approves closing fund

The state Senate on Wednesday passed a measure that would create a closing fund the state could use to attract businesses. House Bill 1953 by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, and Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, passed 41-3 and returns to the House. The measure was amended to prevent companies that receive money from the fund from using it as independent expenditures in campaigns. “This is nothing but corporate welfare,” said Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah. “We have the alternative of not doing this. This is going to be misused. It is not going to work because politics will be involved in it.”

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=16&articleid=20110428_16_A10_OKLAHO692050.

Previously: A tale of two closing funds, the Chinese Communist Party, and genetically modified mice from the OK Policy Blog; How the tax incentives war puts states in a terrible bargaining position from the OK Policy Blog

Does every city need a new convention center?

Some might wonder if that might be the professional judgment of Convention, Sports & Leisure after reading this report by the Pulitzer-prize caliber newspaper The Boston Globe on the consultant’s work with cities throughout the country. Oklahoma City never did a needs-study for a convention center; instead that job was left to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, which hired CS&L. The entire study was never released to the public, though the chamber did release an executive summary of the report.

Read more from the OKC Central blog at http://blog.newsok.com/okccentral/2011/04/27/does-every-city-need-a-new-convention-center/.

From our Board Chair, Vincent LoVoi: Who we are

As board chair of OK Policy, I find it necessary from time to time to speak up on behalf of the organization and its values. Now is such a time. A self-described liberal blogger recently criticized OK Policy for linking to articles from a conservative Oklahoma news organization in our daily news summary, “In the Know.” Ironically, OK Policy has linked to stories from the liberal blogger in the past. This presents an opportunity to remind our Oklahoma community of our core principles here at OK Policy. Foremost, we are nonpartisan and will never subscribe to labels, left or right, red or blue, Democrat or Republican. Second, we focus solely on the betterment of Oklahoma.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at https://okpolicy.org/from-our-board-chair-vincent-lovoi-who-we-are/.

See also: Patrick B. McGuigan’s sentinel of conservatism on the Okie Funk blog

Gov 2.0a, May 6-7, in Oklahoma City

A fascinating conference/workshop on technology and government is returning to Oklahoma City for its second annual edition in just over a week: Gov 2.0a. Gov 2.0 stands for Government 2.0, the application of increased connectivity and new technologies to better help government achieve its goals by being transparent, participatory and collaborative. The benefits of this approach include increased efficiency, improved services, greater accessibility of public services, as well as more accountability.
The Friday program includes speakers to talk about progress in other states, but it also features many Oklahoma leaders: State Rep. Jason Murphey, Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, Governor Mary Fallin, Joey Senat of Freedom of Information Oklahoma, urban blogger/activist Sid Burgess, John Butler of Oklahoma Crisis Mapping.

Read more from the Batesline blog at http://www.batesline.com/archives/2011/04/gov-20a-may-6-7-2011-in-oklahoma.html.

Quote of the Day

We had a client recently who was arrested for the horrible crime of trying to break into the county jail because he was cold at night.

Bob Ravitz, Oklahoma County public defender, speaking on how prisons have taken the place of mental health treatment in Oklahoma.

Number of the Day

$2,499

Median credit card debt in Oklahoma, 2008; the national median credit card debt is $2,960.

Source: 2009-2010 Assets and Opportunities Scorecard, CFED

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Young children of immigrants and the path to educational success

The growing presence of young children of immigrants is changing the demographic makeup of classrooms, yet debates about early education and school reform often do not mention them. As high-quality education for all becomes a prominent policy and political goal, key questions remain unanswered about whether schools and early childhood programs are addressing their needs. This paper summarizes the Urban Institute’s 2010 roundtable “Young Children of Immigrants and the Path to Educational Success” discussion, which focused on the specific needs of young children of immigrants.

Read more from The Urban Institute report at http://www.urban.org/publications/412330.html.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

One thought on “In The Know: April 28, 2011

  1. Hi,

    Everyone wants a home at the retirement age, so many private companies are trying to help about this topic to the public and get the benefit. Thanks a lot.

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