In The Know: June 13, 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 You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, Daily Oklahoman Editor Ed Kelley is leaving the paper to become editor of the Washington Times. The Oklahoma City school district is negotiating with a group of business leaders to turn a planned downtown elementary into a hybrid charter school. The loss of a campus clinic at an Oklahoma City school for pregnant and parenting teens is making it harder for teen mothers to get an education, and MAPS renovations will not help bring back the clinic.

The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum is half finished with only enough funding to continue construction until January. Several jurors on the Jerome Ersland pharmacy killing say they are stunned by public criticism of their verdict. Property sales by Tulsa County are increasing dramatically due to a change in state law that requires the county to sell properties directly instead of selling the liens.

Amid attacks on Planned Parenthood, Janet Pearson writes in The Tulsa World on the importance of family planning to save money and reduce abortions and unwanted pregnancies. Lawrence Baines writes a defense of OU’s teacher preparation program. Doug Dawgz Blog highlights some coverage of the life of Clare Luper. In today’s Policy Note, The Education Trust has a report on how most university financial aid policies do a poor job of helping low-income students.

Read on for more.

In The News

Ed Kelley of Oklahoman is named editor of Washington Times

Ed Kelley says it’s a brand-new day at the Washington Times, and he intends to help “reinvigorate” a newspaper that has been slowly mending after a period of uncertainty and infighting by its founding family. Kelley, 58, was named editor of the paper Friday, filling a position that has been vacant since the departure of former editor Sam Dealey in November. The hiring of Kelley, a veteran editor at the Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City, may signal a return to stability for the five-day-a-week Times, which survived a fractious, near-death period last year.

Read more from this Washington Post article at

Planned elementary for downtown Oklahoma City could be charter school

An $11 million elementary school building planned for downtown could become a hybrid-charter school run by both Oklahoma City Public Schools and a group of prominent urban business leaders. It would be a compromise born from nine months of negotiations between the district and a group that once was looking to open its own privately run but publicly funded school downtown. “Ordinarily, school districts oppose charter schools. If they succeed, they succeed at the expense of the district,” said former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who heads the charter school group.That’s not the case with this school, he said. That’s because the largest district in the state actually would be the charter school applicant, reversing its typical role, and requesting that a university be the sponsoring entity for the school.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Loss of campus clinic at Oklahoma City school has repercussions beyond student health

Two years ago, students could walk out the back doors of their school and into the front doors of a clinic designed especially for pregnant and parenting teens. Now the empty trailer is rotting and deserted, thevictim of what advocates say is a tough economy and social indifference. The clinic was open for nearly 30 years, and the closing was like a falling line of dominoes. The Legislature cut about $141,000 in funding for the Emerson clinic in northwest Oklahoma City and a similar project in Tulsa. OU Medical Center pulled its staff. The state Health Department didn’t have any spare cash. Since then, life has changed for the girls at Emerson, a longtime school for pregnant students. They skip school to go to the doctor while they’re pregnant, and then they skip doctor appointments to go to school after the birth.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

See also: MAPS renovation offers no hope for clinic at Oklahoma City school from NewsOK

Funding woes put work on OKC Indian center in doubt

From Interstate 40, just east of the Dallas junction in Oklahoma City, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum appears impressive. White beams stretch skyward near a 95-foot-tall promontory mound. The 125,000-square-foot museum is imposing from the outside. But on closer inspection, the $170 million project is nowhere near complete. The museum lacks flooring or interior elements. Towering glass panels must still be installed. Electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning systems are missing. After six years of construction, it is only about halfway finished, and there is only enough funding to keep work going through January, project engineer Bryce Johnson said.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Pharmacist’s jurors stunned by public criticism of verdict

Three of the jurors who convicted a pharmacist of murder say they followed the law and are upset and surprised at the public outcry against the verdict. “I’ve had some family members that have basically stated they thought I was stupid and it was the wrong decision,” one juror said. “I hate even watching the news for fear that I might see something about the case,” she said. “We didn’t volunteer for it. We were asked to do this job and we took it very seriously.”

Read more from this NewsOK article at

County property sales spiking due to change in law

This year’s Tulsa County Treasurer’s Auction will be nearly three times larger than last year’s, and not for the reason one might suspect. A 2007 change in state law – not a slumping economy – explains why more than 400 properties will be up for sale beginning Monday, a figure that far surpasses the historical average of 150. The Legislature at that time abolished lien sales by county treasurers. The practice allowed treasurers to sell liens they had placed on delinquent properties. The lien holder would then be entitled to the deed on the property if the taxes were not paid, thus making it unnecessary for the county to sell the property. “This is the first year when we’re feeling the full impact” of the change in law, said Tulsa County Treasurer Dennis Semler.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Janet Pearson: Family planning strongly supported despite politicians’ views

Without the services provided through more than 100 family planning sites to tens of thousands of Oklahoma women, the abortion rate in the state would be 82 percent higher, and the level of teen pregnancy in Oklahoma would be 44 percent higher, according to Guttmacher data. And yet, despite the cost savings to taxpayers, the reduction in the abortion and unwanted pregnancy rates, and the fact these programs were championed by conservative stalwarts, family planning services are under intensifying attack across America.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Lawrence Baines: Many ways to assess teacher quality

Seniors preparing to graduate from OU’s teacher preparation programs have an average ACT score of 27, an average grade-point average of 3.3, and a 100 percent pass rate on teacher exams. After graduation, teachers from OU become some of the best teachers in the state — by any measure. Meanwhile, no minimum ACT score, no grade-point average, no courses in instruction, no practice with children is required to obtain certification through alternative routes. In fact, those seeking alternative certification in Oklahoma are exempted from teacher tests. Last year, only 150 teachers graduated from OU’s rigorous teacher preparation programs while 1,500 graduated from quick-and-easy alternative certification programs.

Read more from this NewsOK editorial at

Who is Clara Luper?

Looking at old and new parts of Oklahoma City is certainly fun – for some. Segregated public and private facilities of all types prevailed during most of the time those old movie theaters downtown were still in place. This 1939 image from an Oklahoma City street car terminal shows what I mean. It was in such a milieu that Mrs. Luper was born and raised. During 41 years as an award winning Oklahoma educator, Mrs. Clara Luper taught history and made history.

Read more from Doug Dawgz Blog at

Quote of the Day

Women spend about five years either being pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and about 30 years trying not to get pregnant. Americans need family planning services.

Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association

Number of the Day


Adult Protective Services investigations completed by OKDHS, February 2011

Source: OKDHS Monthly Statistical Bulletin

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How the wrong policies on financial aid hurt low-income students

In “Priced Out: How the Wrong Financial-Aid Policies Hurt Low-Income Students,” The Education Trust demonstrates how much low-income students must stretch to pay for college, even after grant aid is taken into account. The report finds that just five of the nation’s nearly 1,200 four-year colleges and universities have student bodies that are at least 30 percent low-income and offer low-income students a reasonable chance at a bachelor’s degree at an relatively affordable cost. The result? Far too many low-income students are priced out of higher education.

Read more from The Education Trust at

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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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