In The Know: May 17, 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, Oklahoma could see a teacher shortage in the next decade as nearly half of Oklahoma’s public school teachers are 50 years are older. DHS has spent $4.2M since 2008 defending against a lawsuit by Children’s Rights alleging abusive conditions in the state’s foster care system. After five years of legal battles, a Tulsa woman may get a plea deal to reduce her life sentence for being at a home raided for drugs when police were investigating someone else. CapitolBeatOK has some of the remarks by Andrea Baker, a graduate of the Women In Recovery program, given at the signing of the corrections reform bill.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics will lay off three officers tasked with prevention and education efforts to cope with a 34 percent budget cut. A House Committee advanced a $40M bond for the American Indian Cultural Center with restrictions on how the money can be used and an audit requirement. On the OK Policy Blog, we discuss the implications of Gov 2.0 and the variety of groups advocating for bringing new technology into government. Senate redistricting maps that received approval in the House yesterday will favor most incumbents and fast growing suburbs of Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The House voted down a bill that would add cyberbullying to the state’s anti-bullying laws and require schools to develop a policy to monitor it. The American Jewish Committee is joining the lawsuit against Oklahoma’s ballot measure targeting Sharia law, arguing that it is discriminatory and violates the First Amendment. In today’s Policy Note, the Los Angeles Times reports on the variety of ways that states handle undocumented students at public colleges. Denial of resident tuition for undocumented students was one of the measures taken out of Oklahoma’s latest immigration law.

Read on for more.

In The News

Teacher shortage in Oklahoma predicted as GOP starts retiring

Like the rest of the country, Oklahoma could see a teacher shortage in the next decade as large numbers of baby boomer educators retire and school enrollments rise. More than half of U.S. educators teaching in secondary schools today – about 1.7 million – are expected to leave the profession over the next decade, either due to retirement or new-teacher attrition, according to a 2009 report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. Although the number of the state’s college students entering the education field has remained steady over the past 10 years, nearly half of Oklahoma’s public school teachers are 50 years of age or older, data show.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

$4.2 million paid to attorneys for DHS foster care lawsuit defense

Oklahoma taxpayers have spent about $4.2 million on attorneys since April 2008 for the state Department of Human Services to defend a class-action lawsuit alleging abusive conditions in the state’s foster-care system, records show. The suit was filed in February 2008 in federal court in Tulsa by Children’s Rights. The New York-based nonprofit accuses the state of placing foster children in danger because of systemic deficiencies including too many cases per worker, not enough home visits, multiple placements and not enough foster parent training. DHS is facing a shortfall in the next budget of about $39 million and is considering cutting staffing levels and changing the eligibility standard to receive child-care subsidies.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

See also: Children’s Rights seeks fixes to program from NewsOK

Woman gets shot at freedom

Tulsan Sheila Devereux, 47, convicted five years ago of drug trafficking, at long last has caught a break in her efforts to get an outrageously unfair life sentence set aside. Devereux was staying at a home raided for drugs six years ago but co-defendant Earnest Allen Butler, 71, was the actual party listed on the search warrant. Butler pleaded guilty and was paroled from prison in 2009 after serving four years of a 13-year sentence. Devereux, however, chose to go to trial where she was convicted. Because she had two prior possession charges, she received the life sentence under the “three-strikes” law.

Read more from this Tulsa World editorial at

Andrea Baker: The face of Oklahoma corrections reform?

At the signing of House Bill 2131, a compelling moment came in the speech of Andrea Baker, a 39-year-old woman. Her face, and story, convey better than the best policy analyses the power advocates of the new law see in effective programs for drug offenders that cost less and are more effective that past policies aimed at drug offenses. Baker is a graduate of Women in Recovery, a now-acclaimed program that shows the potential of this and other private sector programs, working in cooperation with government, to shift outcomes in the criminal justice system toward lower cost and ultimately more effective programs.

Read more from this CapitolBeatOK article at

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics cuts jobs in budget shortfall

Leaders of state agencies all across Oklahoma are working with smaller budgets this year. The Oklahoma Impact Team found out how the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics [OBN] is dealing with a nearly 34 percent cut. The agency says it will cut three officers to help make up for the loss. Those officers focus on prevention and education in schools and for civic groups. OBN is also having to readjust its strategy for dealing with prescription drug issues, the increased number of meth labs and problems with Mexican cartels.

Read more from this NewsOn6 article at

Bill advances for American Indian Cultural Center funding

A House committee Monday approved a new version of a bill that restricted how money would be spent from a proposed $40 million bond issue over a three-year period for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. Senate Bill 985 would require that money from the bond issue could be spent on only the building and capital improvements. It also would require an audit of how the state money was spent, said Rep. Earl Sears, House author of the measure. The House of Representatives Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget approved the measure by a vote of 11-4. It now goes to the Senate.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

Watchdogs, code monkeys, and budget hawks: The many species of Gov 2.0

At the recent Gov 2.0a Conference, the tech-savvy and public-minded came together to discuss ways to bring the latest technology into government. Gov 2.0 is a term you will likely hear again. It represents a number of intersecting (and sometimes contradictory) trends involving new technology, public data, and open government. To its biggest boosters, Gov 2.0 has the potential to revolutionize the relationship between citizens and government. Yet substantial obstacles and disagreements remain.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Senate redistricting favors suburbs, most incumbents

Some fast-growing suburbs of Oklahoma City and Tulsa won out in the latest legislative redistricting process that largely protected incumbents in the Senate. The Senate approved its redistricting plan Friday by a vote of 38-6. (Update: The House passed it Monday afternoon by a vote of 67-30.) For the first time, the Senate will have a district focused on the fast-growing Hispanic population. The Capitol Hill neighborhood on Oklahoma City’s south side will be part of Democratic Minority Leader Andrew Rice’s downtown district.

Read more from Data Watch at

House kills cyberbullying bill

The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday killed a bill that would have added cyberbullying to the state’s anti-bullying laws and would have required public schools to have a bullying policy. Rep. Lee Denney, author of House Bill 1461, said she was surprised the House defeated the measure 52-44. An earlier version of the bill passed the House in March with a 74-23 vote. Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, debated against the measure, saying it was another mandate being placed on public schools.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

American Jewish Committee urges court to block Oklahoma provision targeting Sharia law

The American Jewish Committee is urging a federal appeals court to block implementing a new Oklahoma provision targeting Sharia law. “Singling out the religious law of one faith is simply unconstitutional and smacks of fear-mongering,” said AJC Associate General Counsel Marc D. Stern. In a brief filed today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in the case of Awad v. Ziriax, AJC argues that anOklahoma constitutional provision adopted by referendum last November banning Oklahoma courts from relying on Sharia law is “flagrantly unconstitutional” for violating the “core nondiscrimination command of the Establishment Clause.”

Read more from the PR Newswire at

Quote of the Day

In places like Finland and Singapore, they revere their teachers as highly as doctors and lawyers. I don’t know why it’s like this here.

Lisa Holder, director of teacher education and minority recruitment at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

Number of the Day

$622 million

Drop in overall appropriations in the FY ’12 budget compared to three years ago, in FY ’09.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

States make their own tuition rules for undocumented students

Anngie Gutierrez was a child when she arrived in the United States as an illegal immigrant 10 years ago. There’s still no path to legal status for her, but in Maryland and a handful of other states, there is a more affordable road to college. Gutierrez, a high school junior in Hyattsville, Md., will benefit from a new state law that allows illegal immigrants who reside there to pay in-state tuition rates at Maryland’s public colleges. If she lived in Virginia, about 15 miles to the west, she would find that many public colleges require undocumented students to pay out-of-state tuition. Some Virginia legislators want to go further: In February, the House of Delegates passed legislation that would prohibit the state’s public universities from admitting illegal immigrants. The proposal has not passed the state Senate. The states’ radically different approaches illustrate the polarization of Americans over what to do about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., and the heated nature of a debate that extends far from border states such as Arizona and California.

Read more from this Los Angeles Times article at,0,198994.story.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.