In The Know: Poll finds most voters support requiring tornado shelters in schools

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 a new poll finds that more than three in four Oklahoma voters support requiring all primary schools to have tornado shelters. The OK Policy Blog has a guest post on how renters can be forgotten in post-disaster recovery efforts. A new ranking of teacher preparatory programs nationwide advises students to avoid education programs at two Oklahoma regional universities.

Oklahoma corrections professionals connected the Department of Correction director’s resignation to private prison lobbying. CapitolBeatOK writes that Oklahoma’s criminal justice policies are a financial time bomb, and that the next DOC director needs to be committed to alternatives to incarceration. A state audit revealed that the state fire marshal’s office has failed to meet its legal duty to annually inspect all Oklahoma correctional facilities.

Journal Record editor Ted Streuli writes that Oklahoma’s low college attainment among minority populations should scare the pants off economic developers. The Motley Fool asks whether Chesapeake Energy’s new CEO is overpaid, with total compensation more than Chesapeake’s former CEO got paid last year and noticeably more than the chief executives of other similar energy companies. Urban Tulsa Weekly discussed how lawmakers are threatening judges who overturned unconstitutional state laws, and the Oklahoma Gazette discussed how the State Chamber is pushing for retribution against judges.

The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank among the states for incidence of cervical cancer. In today’s Policy Note, a new HUD report shows that housing discrimination against minorities persists in the United States in more subtle ways.

In The News

Poll: Most voters support requiring tornado shelters in schools

More than three in four Oklahoma voters support the idea of requiring all primary schools to have tornado shelters and providing taxpayer-funded rebates to people who install shelters in their homes. But a solid majority does not think builders should be required to add tornado shelters to all new homes, according to a newly-released survey by The telephone survey of 402 likely voters suggests that taxpayers may be willing to pick up at least part of the tab for providing more security for schoolchildren and home dwellers in the wake of last month’s deadly tornadoes.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Lesson from Louisiana: Don’t forget the renters

On May 20, 2013, a tornado with peak winds of 210 miles per hour struck Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people, injuring 377 more, destroying 1,150 homes and causing an estimated two billion dollars in damage. These impacts were indiscriminate, but the process of rebuilding is not. The City of Moore has an opportunity to rebuild better and fairly by remembering that both homeowners and renters need recovery assistance, but assistance will be different for each.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Two teacher programs at Oklahoma universities called ineffective

A new ranking of teacher preparatory programs nationwide advises students to avoid education programs at two state universities. East Central University’s undergraduate elementary education program and Northeastern State University’s undergraduate special education program were flagged with so-called consumer alerts on the nonprofit National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Prep Review. The report, distributed by U.S. News and World Report, was released Tuesday. The report’s consumer alerts indicate students in the flagged programs are unlikely to receive much, if any, effective training from those programs.

Read more from NewsOK.

Corrections professionals connect DOC exec’s resignation to private prison lobbying

Corrections professionals on Tuesday expressed shock and sadness that Department of Corrections Executive Director Justin Jones was resigning. Jones made the announcement to his staff late Monday, saying his resignation date is effective in October, but his last day on the job will be in August due to paid time off. “This is all about campaign money from private prison lobbyists,” said Sean Wallace, Oklahoma Corrections Professionals executive director. “The agency is purposely being run into the ground so that private prisons actually appear to be of value to the state. And the agency’s employees continue to be put in harm’s way and disrespected, while our elected officials play political games.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

For Oklahoma, more time and fresh opportunity for prison reform

Our state leaders boast, and rightly so, about what is called “The Oklahoma Standard” – the compassion, speed and effectiveness of responses to natural disasters like this spring’s tornadoes and/or acts of terror like the Murrah Bombing in 1995. Let’s apply that standard to counter the financial time bomb that lies at the end of the state’s unsustainable prison policies. Making the Oklahoma Standard work for prison reform is both practical and principled – a moral response to a legal problem eating at the fabric of our society.

Read more from CapitolBeatOK.

Audit of Oklahoma fire marshal’s office reveals failure to inspect some correctional facilities

The state fire marshal’s office can’t account for a missing shotgun and has failed to meet its legal duty to annually inspect all Oklahoma correctional facilities, a state audit has revealed. The fire marshal’s office neglected to inspect 27 correctional facilities in 2011 and 30 facilities in 2011, auditors said. Jones said his auditors identified 210 correctional facilities under the jurisdiction of the state, counties, cities and towns. By law, fire marshal’s employees are required to inspect each institution every year.

Read more from NewsOK.

This should scare the pants off economic developers

Quality workforce. It’s one of the chamber of commerce buzzwords when they start talking about corporate relocation. Consider this statement, direct from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s website: “An educated workforce leads to better business recruitment and expansion and is key for Greater Oklahoma City’s bright future.” Now consider this statement sent last week by the Lumina Foundation introducing the findings published in its annual report: “Oklahoma now ranks 42nd in America for college attainment. The report also shows that the current pace of progress is far too modest for Oklahoma to meet its future workforce needs and that educational achievement varies across the state’s largest metropolitan markets.”

Read more from the Journal Record.

Is Chesapeake’s new CEO overpaid?

Chesapeake Energy, the Oklahoma City-based oil and gas producer, recently got a new CEO. After months of searching for Aubrey McClendon’s replacement, the company chose Robert Douglas (“Doug”) Lawler, who previously led Anadarko Petroleum’s successful international and deepwater business, as chief executive. But while there’s not much doubt about Lawler’s experience and abilities, is Chesapeake paying him too much? Not only is Lawler’s total compensation more than Chesapeake’s former CEO got paid last year, it’s also noticeably more than the chief executives of other energy companies with similar market capitalizations.

Read more from the Motley Fool.

Jurists plainly threatened by “brave” state leaders

News: Oklahoma House speaker wants to consider term limits for appellate judges, including state Supreme Court justices. Comment: Didn’t state lawmakers just approve a new anti-bullying statute? Yes, but apparently what’s necessary and prudent when it comes to Oklahoma’s public school children doesn’t apply when you’re an adult who wields a big gavel. House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s suggestion that legislators take a good, hard look at extending term limits to appellate judges is state government’s equivalent of schoolyard bullying. He delivered an unmistakable warning that high court justices better shape up and bend to the Legislature’s will or lawmakers will find ways to torpedo the jurists’ careers.

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

See also: Judging the judges from Oklahoma Gazette

Quote of the Day

What should scare the hell out of Oklahoma’s economic development crowd is that only 15 percent of Hispanics here have completed a postsecondary education. … If Oklahoma wants a workforce that will bolster the economy and attract corporate towers, the state will have to get the poor and minority populations into the classrooms.

-Journal Record Editor Ted Streuli (Source:

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank among the states for incidence of cervical cancer, 10.9 per 100,000 residents, compared to 7.9 nationally

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999-2009

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Housing discrimination persists in U.S. in more subtle ways, HUD report says

Housing discrimination remains problematic, according to a government report released Tuesday that found that although blatant acts of racial prejudice in the selling, buying and renting of homes have been declining in the United States, more subtle forms of housing bias “stubbornly persist.” “Fewer minorities today may be getting the door slammed in their faces, but we continue to see evidence of housing discrimination that can limit a family’s housing, economic and educational opportunities,” said Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The nationwide HUD survey of 28 metropolitan areas showed that real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes and apartments to minority families, not only restricting their options but also increasing their costs to rent or buy.

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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