In The Know: Oklahoma fourth-graders improve in reading, national results show

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 In The News

The Nation’s Report Card: Oklahoma fourth-graders doing better in reading than two years ago: Oklahoma fourth-grade reading scores for 2015 improved slightly over 2013 scores, according to a new national report. Alternately, eighth-grade reading scores, as well as both fourth- and eighth-grade math scores in the state, remained about the same, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress [Tulsa World].

Hiring freeze on tap for city of Oklahoma City: Lagging tax collections are prompting Oklahoma City to put the brakes on hiring. City Manager Jim Couch said Tuesday that Oklahoma City would impose a hiring freeze Nov. 9. Couch told the city council that sales tax and use tax collections combined were $4.2 million, or 4.8 percent, below budget projections four months into the 2015-16 fiscal year [NewsOK].

Tulsa Company Among Latest Bakken Bankruptcies: Two more energy companies operating in North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the midst of slumping crude prices. Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Samson Resources and Denver-based American Eagle Energy plan to sell off Bakken assets to pay debts [KWGS].

Budget challenges call for better tools: As Oklahoma grapples with a deepening budget crisis, one of the greatest challenges our policymakers face is the absence of a full and forward-looking picture of the state’s financial situation to help guide tax and spending decisions. Year after year, policymakers make short-term decisions, like approving tax cuts that take years to go into full effect and using cash reserves to balance the budget, without a clear sense of what they will mean for our longer-term outlook [OK Policy].

Cost of Oklahoma health plans skyrocket in marketplace: A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on the affordability of health insurance plans offered on the federal exchange shows the cost of one of the benchmark plans will increase more than 35 percent — nearly five times higher than the national average. Mike Rhoads, deputy commissioner of health and life for the Oklahoma Insurance Department, said the cost increase in Oklahoma is the result of fewer providers in the marketplace and high losses by Blue Cross Blue Shield Oklahoma, the largest provider on the exchange [SF Gate].

Oklahoma Supreme Court puts brakes on abortion law that was to have gone into effect next week: An abortion law that was set to go into effect Sunday was put on hold Monday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The law, Senate Bill 642 by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would require abortion providers to take a sample of the fetal tissue when the abortion patient is younger than 14 and send it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma’s texting while driving ban goes into effect Sunday: What questions do you have? A statewide ban against texting while driving goes into effect this Sunday, Nov. 1 and carries a $100 fine. Post your questions and comments in the form below [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Part of Federal Program to Boost Safety at Chicken Processing Facilities: Oklahoma is one of four big chicken-producing states targeted in a federal effort to improve worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a year-long program to teach employers in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas health and safety standards and make sure they follow them [KWGS].

Hobby Lobby confirms federal inquiry: Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. says it is cooperating with a federal investigation involving ancient clay tablets from Iraq for the planned Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. The Oklahoma City company confirmed there was an ongoing investigation after online news outlet The Daily Beast published an article Tuesday about an alleged claim surrounding the clay tablets [NewsOK].

 Group Wants Tulsa Judge Off Bob Bates’ Murder Trial: There are new developments in the upcoming trial of former Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Bob Bates. The community activist group “We The People Oklahoma” is calling on Judge James Caputo to recuse himself in their continued push for transparency – because he was once a reserve deputy [NewsOn6].

Quote of the Day

“These results show we must take bold action in order to truly compete. While Oklahoma did see growth in NAEP assessments, we are still in the middle of the pack nationally. Our goal is to be a state other states strive to reach.”

– Supt. Joy Hofmeister, on new  National Assessment of Educational Progress results showing that Oklahoma’s fourth-grade reading scores improved slightly over 2013 scores, while eighth-grade reading scores, as well as both fourth- and eighth-grade math scores, remained about the same (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma children ages 0 to 5 at risk for developmental delays 2011-2012. The US average is 26%.

Source: Kids Count.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why America can’t make up its mind about housing: Here are two ideas that, if you’re like most Americans, you probably mostly agree with: 1. Government policy should help keep housing broadly affordable, so as not to price out people of low or moderate incomes from entire neighborhoods, cities, or even metropolitan areas. 2. Government policy should protect residential neighborhoods from things that might negatively impact housing values, because homes are an important investment and wealth-building tool [City Commentary].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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