In 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 the NPR show Planet Money profiled Tulsa’s Educare in a show on how preschool can save the world, and This American Life reported on how Oklahoma came to lead the nation in preschool access. The Tulsa World examines planned federal cuts to education in Oklahoma that were previously discussed on the OK Policy Blog. Fifth- and eighth-graders statewide will take their writing exams during the busy April testing window because of a clerical error in processing the contract with a new testing vendor.
Fourteen sites in Oklahoma City are providing lunches to children who would otherwise go without nutritious meals during school breaks. Controversy over Tulsa County’s Vision2 sales tax proposal is centering around business incentives. OK Policy previously discussed how this proposal may reflect the danger of too much Chamber-driven policy. A board member for the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority is defending the panel’s actions in the wake of a critical state audit released last week.
Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton writes in NewsOK that we can’t afford State Question 766. The Oklahoma editorial board endorsed removing the governor from routine parole cases with State Question 762. Wayne Greene writes that Governor Fallin’s flip-flop on SQ 762 is perplexing. Opponents of SQ 759, which seeks to end some affirmative action programs in Oklahoma, say it would do little except paint the state in a bad light. Find more on all of the questions on the ballot in November at our 2012 State Questions page.
The Number of the Day is the percentage of murder victims in Oklahoma who were murdered by someone they were previously acquainted with. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog lists five energy topics that won’t come up in tonight’s foreign policy debate — but should.
In The News
Planet Money: Why Preschool Can Save The World
On today’s show, we meet a self-described robber baron who decided to spend his billions on finger paint and changing tables. We revisit decades-long studies that found preschool made a huge difference in the lives of poor children. And we talk to a Nobel prize-winning economist who says that spending public money on preschool produces a huge return on investment.
See also: How Oklahoma came to lead the nation in pre-school access from This American Life
Public education: A motherless child
Sometimes Oklahoma public education must feel like a motherless child – often slighted and unloved by its elected superintendent; abandoned and starved by a deadbeat-dad-like Legislature that refuses to pay adequate child support. And the hits keep coming. Early next year – unless Congress acts quickly – Uncle Sam, ordinarily a dependable source of federal support, might add more misery. Under sequestration – the process of automatic cuts – state schools could lose up to $51.1 million in federal funding – $18 million for Tulsa Public Schools.
Previously: What the coming federal budget cuts mean for education in Oklahoma from the OK Policy Blog
Clerical error adds more testing to ‘crazy April’ for Oklahoma students
Fifth- and eighth-graders statewide will take their writing exams during the busy April testing window because of a clerical error in processing the contract with a new testing vendor. The Oklahoma State Department of Education notified district superintendents Wednesday of the scheduling change by email, noting that “administrative challenges” caused the agency to put this year’s entire $8.5 million contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill up for rebid. “That takes that fifth- and eighth-grade writing test from February, when we don’t have any other high-stakes accountability testing going on, and it places that into the testing window where we have everything else,” Durant Superintendent Jason Simeroth said.
14 sites provide lunches for Oklahoma City kids during break
The child with glasses took the brown bag lunch in hand and began twisting the top to make a handle of sorts. Led and followed by staff members of the North Side YMCA, he and about 60 other children walked to a nearby park around noon on a sunny, mild October day. The boy in the bright red shirt sat down on a bench under a big tree. He untwisted the top of the sack, reached in and pulled out his sandwich. On this day he was among the 14 children receiving a brown bag lunch provided by the Regional Food of Oklahoma during the first of two weeks of fall break for Oklahoma City Public Schools. Through the program, 14 sites provide lunches to anyone age 18 or younger weekdays through next Friday.
Business incentives at heart of Vision2 debate
Is it a wise investment, or millions of dollars misused? That’s what many Tulsans are asking about the $750 million Vision2 bond package, after the City of Wichita, Kansas offered roughly $60 million in incentives to try and steal Spirit Aerosystems away from Tulsa. Supporters of Vision2 say that kind of competition is a reason voters should approve Vision2. But J.B. Alexander, chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party and staunch opponent of Vision2, said showering corporations with money and incentives has its flaws. “Wichita gave almost $500 million to Boeing,” Alexander said. “Didn’t work. Indianapolis gave over $300 million to United. Didn’t work.”
Previously: It matters who guards the henhouse from the OK Policy Blog
Board member defends Indian museum decision in wake of critical audit
A board member for the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority is defending the panel’s actions in the wake of a critical state audit released last week. Dan Batchelor is an original member and serves as secretary-treasurer on the board that is overseeing construction of the financially troubled American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. Batchelor said the authority, created in 1994, was charged with building something that had never been done anywhere in the world.
Oklahoma Education Association president: State can’t afford State Question 766
Why should Oklahomans vote against State Question 766? After all, the measure’s purpose is to eliminate taxation of all intangible property. Why would we want to tax something intangible, something we can’t see or touch? Unfortunately, the effect of approving this measure is quite tangible: the loss of $32 million to public schools.
NewsOK: It’s time to remove Oklahoma governor from routine parole cases
Members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board do a tremendous amount of work before deciding whether the men and women who come before them should be recommended for release from prison. One former board member estimated that he and his four colleagues each spent 100 hours per month prepping for their meetings. There they hear from attorneys on both sides, relatives, victims and others. And if the board votes to parole an inmate, it may not matter: In Oklahoma, the governor has the final word on every parole, from murderers to meth cooks.
Fallin’s flip-flop on SQ 762 perplexing
After first supporting the idea, Gov. Mary Fallin has come out in opposition to State Question 762. Fallin’s opposition is potentially deadly for the proposal, which would remove the governor from the parole process for state prisoners serving sentences for nonviolent offenses. If an inmate covered by SQ 762 gets the nod of the state parole board, he heads to the streets. Fallin is broadly popular among Republicans, Democrats and independents, so her voice matters, especially on the relative esoterica of general election ballot questions.
Opponents say affirmative action proposal would make state look bad
A proposal before state voters Nov. 6 bills itself as ending affirmative action programs in broad categories of state and local government activities, but opponents say it would do little, except paint the state in a bad light. State Question 759 expressly prohibits affirmative action programs in employment, education and contracting. The measure allows exceptions for court-mandated affirmative action, situations where affirmative action is a requirement to qualify for federal funding and when “gender is a bona fide qualification.” While 115 state agencies had affirmative action programs on file in the last count by the state Office of Personnel Management, it is unclear how much impact SQ 759 would actually have.
Quote of the Day
Indirectly or directly, I know there were doors opened for me that were not open to my parents. I know I’ve been a beneficiary, beyond a question. I didn’t get a quota; I didn’t get a handout; but I think they offered me services that made sure I made it from start to finish. Affirmative action works. Why would you want to put an end to that?
Number of the Day
Percentage of murder victims in Oklahoma who were murdered by someone they were previously acquainted with, 2011
Five energy topics that won’t come up in tonight’s foreign policy debate — but should
The third presidential debate on Monday night will be foreign-policy themed—and, according to moderator Bob Schieffer, will mostly focus on the Middle East. There will be questions about Iran, Pakistan, terrorism, and perhaps some time for President Obama and Mitt Romney to discuss China’s role in the world. Fair enough. Those are all good topics. But a few key issues keep getting quietly shouldered aside in these debates. Europe’s still-smoldering debt crisis is a glaring omission. And, curiously, there don’t seem to be any plans to discuss energy—a major foreign policy issue that has largely been neglected throughout the campaign.
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