In The Know: Education department announces settlement with testing vendor

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 you should know that rhe Oklahoma State Education Department has announced a settlement with CTB/McGraw-Hill over widespread disruptions to school testing. The settlement is valued at $1.238 million and will consist mostly of “in-kind” services, including $678,400 to additional voluntary tests for second-graders. Oklahoma rate of imprisonment keeps rising, growing 2.5 percent in 2012 to become fourth highest in the nation. The Associated Press covered the debate in Tulsa over changing the name of city landmarks honoring Klan leader and instigator of the Tulsa Race Riot Tate Brady.

Gov. Mary Fallin has no plans to consider judicial term limits or the way judges are selected as part of special session talks she’s having with legislative leaders, despite a letter sent to judges by Senator Patrick Anderson warning that the session would focus on “attacking the judiciary.” Sen. Kyle Loveless said lawmakers should work with state Supreme Court justices on how to deal with the single-subject constitutional provision that has resulted in the overturning of several laws in recent years. State Auditor Gary Jones has an op-ed calling for Oklahoma to budget state agencies based on an annual needs assessment instead of past appropriations.

The OK Policy Blog reviews “Kind of Kin,” a novel about Oklahomans reacting to strict immigration laws. Some barbers are worried that a new state law consolidating the licensing board for their profession with that of cosmetologists will harm their business. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how licensing boards can discourage entrepreneurs and unfairly protect incumbent businesses from competition. In the Journal Record, M. Scott Carter writes that Oklahoma policy discussions have left out concerns about hunger and poverty.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans employed in services. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog discusses how a health care plan proposed in 2010 by Sen. Tom Coburn and other Republicans looked a lot like Obamacare.

In The News

Oklahoma education department announces settlement with testing vendor

The Oklahoma State Education Department and CTB/McGraw-Hill testing vendor have negotiated a settlement valued at $1.238 million after widespread disruptions of standardized testing during the April testing period, Superintendent Janet Barresi announced Thursday at the state education board meeting. Most of the settlement will be provided through “in-kind” services, with a cash settlement of $367,205, she said. The testing vendor will spend $678,400 to provide voluntary benchmark assessments for teachers aimed at increasing second-grade student achievement.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma’s rate of imprisonment keeps rising

Oklahoma continues to imprison people at one of the highest rates in the nation, ranking fourth in a newly released report from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. Oklahoma, which has seen prison populations increase steadily over the past several decades, incarcerated 648 residents per 100,000 population in 2012, according to the study released Thursday by the bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Justice. That’s up 2.5 percent, an increase from 632 in 2011.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Debate rages over Tulsa landmarks honoring Ku Klux Klan member

When Wyatt Tate Brady arrived here in 1890, Tulsa was just a spit of a town — an untidy tangle of dirt streets and a handful of tents occupied by white men seeking their fortune in uncharted Indian lands. By the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Brady was a celebrated city father. He signed Tulsa’s incorporation papers, started a newspaper and chartered a train filled with boosters, including humorist Will Rogers, to promote the new boomtown to people in the East. But a lesser-known side of Brady has become the focus of debate in his adopted hometown nearly 90 years after his death.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Fallin says no talk on how judges are selected in special session

Gov. Mary Fallin has no plans to consider the way judges are selected as part of special session talks she’s having with legislative leaders, a spokesman said on Thursday. Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz released a statement on the topic after state Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, wrote a letter to judges across the state warning them the focus of the special session would be “attacking the judiciary.” “Based upon some of the rumors I am hearing, I expect that there will be an attempt to place term limits on judges and that there will be an effort to eliminate the Judicial Nominating Commission in order to allow the Governor to have complete judicial appointment authority,” Anderson wrote.

Read more from the Enid News and Eagle.

Lawmaker seeks single-subject clarification

A state senator said Thursday that Oklahoma lawmakers should work with state Supreme Court justices on how to deal with the single-subject constitutional provision that has resulted in the overturning of several laws in recent years, including a 2009 comprehensive law that deals with the filing of lawsuits. Sen. Kyle Loveless said the single-subject provision should be kept, but guidelines could be defined that would allow more than one section in a bill as long as they deal with the same subject. Otherwise lawmakers are looking at passing separate bills for each section, which will be time-consuming and impractical in a four-month session, said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma state auditor: Let’s look at a needs-based budget approach

Fiscal year 2014 is barely underway and state agencies are already preparing budget requests for FY ’15. Agencies use current funding levels as a base amount and typically request an increase for the next year. This is, historically, how the Oklahoma budget process works. Legislative appropriations are based on history and not on current agency needs. Little in-depth analysis is done with regard to true budgetary needs.

Read more from NewsOK.

Read This: Kind of Kin

It’s rare to find a novel set in Oklahoma; it’s rarer still to find a novel set in Oklahoma that actually feels like Oklahoma, with all of its quirks, dangers, and beauty. Author Rilla Askew is Oklahoman herself and it shows; Kind of Kin is funny, poignant, and very smart, deftly describing the fallout of state politics in a small (but fierce) Oklahoma town.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma barbers wary of new combined cosmetology and barber licensing board

Some barbers worry that a new state law consolidating the licensing board for their profession with that of cosmetologists will clip their business. “Whoever controls the licensing can set any rules they want, and you’re controlled by them,” said licensed barber Clayton Cooper. He said he is concerned that the new board will impose cosmetology questions on people seeking barber’s licenses, and gradually drive barbers from the business.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: When “business-friendly” regulations are bad for the rest of us from the OK Policy Blog

Helping the people who need it the most

He was an old man. Dressed in shaggy clothing, he had bright gray eyes, a full beard and scarred, rough hands twisted by years of arthritis. The image shocked me. Here in the shadow of the Devon tower, in a state known for its compassion and hardworking residents, here as people moved past him, the old man was forced to find food in a dumpster. He had a small foam clamshell filled with rotten lettuce, some ketchup and a piece of meat.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Quote of the Day

Somewhere in all the talk about being open for business and all the policy discussions about health care and tax incentives and education reform, the desire to fight poverty and help the least fortunate of society has, somehow, been pushed aside.

-M. Scott Carter, writing in the Journal Record (Source:

Number of the Day

52 percent

Percent of Oklahomans employed in services, 2006-2010.

Source: USDA Atlas of Rural and Small Town America

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Republicans had a plan to replace Obamacare. It looked a lot like Obamacare.

Remember “repeal and replace”? That was the Republican party’s 2010-vintage response to the Affordable Care Act. It wasn’t that they opposed the idea of universal health care; they just thought that the Obama administration and their allies in Congress went about it the wrong way. They wouldn’t just repeal the bill. They’d replace it with something better. But what? The Romney campaign was very vague on this point, and the few points of commonality Congressional Republicans have on the issue don’t add up to a full replacement. Four years ago, however, they did. It was called the Patients’ Choice Act, it was proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), two of the most influential Congressional Republicans on the issue, and it was a credible way of covering almost all Americans.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. 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.

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