In The Know: State infant mortality rate declines

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

Infant mortality rate drops: Although it remains above the US average, Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate has declined 15 percent since 2005. The state’s infant mortality rate for black infants remains almost double that of white infants [NewsOK]. Oklahoma’s infant mortality rate has recently hovered somewhere between Kuwait and Russia [OK Policy].

State lacks special education teachers: Advocates say that the state’s vacancies for special education teachers are particularly damaging to students in need of specialized attention. The Oklahoma Education Association says that the state only had 30 graduates from state collegiate special education programs [KFOR].

Community health centers are vital part of state health infrastructure: Even as more Americans have access to health insurance, a serious health-care problem persists: the shortage of access to essential preventive and primary care services. A key part of the solution lies in our nation’s community health centers, a proven national model [John Silva / Tulsa World]. But recent state funding cuts threaten community health centers’ ability to provide care across Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Opportunities for telemedicine in Oklahoma: Far-flung rural clinics and a general physician shortage may make telemedicine particularly attractive in Oklahoma. Although regulations concerning – for example – a physician’s ability to prescribe remain disconcertingly silent, care providers say that embracing telemedicine could go a long way towards reversing poor health trends [NewsOK].

State gets D+ for women’s health: A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research evaluated health data pertaining to women in Oklahoma, including heart disease mortality rates, breast cancer mortality rates, and lung cancer mortality rates, as well as information on how many women had diabetes, chlamydia, and poor mental health days. Overall, the state fared poorly. [KTUL] The report highlighted that Oklahoma had seen the largest increase in the number of poor mental health days, and ranked 49th for heart disease deaths [IWPR].

Woodward County climate change skeptics flummox, charm CNN correspondent: But I don’t want to ignore this place — and don’t think you should, either. Partly that’s because so many readers of CNN’s Two° series on climate change asked me to look into climate skepticism in the United States. You wanted to know why such skepticism persists here, what’s really behind the sentiment — and how skeptics, hopefully, can become part of solutions to climate change. Partly it’s because I really came to love Woodward [CNN].

One rainy spring not enough to stop aquifer declines: Over five years of drought, Oklahoma has increasingly relied on – and increasingly depleted – its aquifers. However, despite record-breaking rains this spring, aquifer water levels are still dropping [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Voting is power: Whether by virtue of being a white male property owner or whether fought for through amendments to the Constitution as was the case for blacks, women and people age 18, the U.S. Constitution gives you a piece of power to make changes in our government. If you fail to cast your vote, you are relinquishing your power to make a difference and submitting to those who do cast their votes [Elizabeth Harris / Tulsa World].

SCOTUS ruling won’t affect religious tax exemptions: When the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage throughout the US this summer, state Attorney General Scott Pruitt sought guidance from the IRS over whether tax-exempt status of charities, churches, and religiously-affiliated universities could be revoked over the ruling. The IRS has assured him that it cannot [KGOU].

Tulsa is 1 of 8 cities to win Bloomberg honor: Tulsa is one of the first cities selected to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities – a $42 million initiative to help 100 mid-sized American cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve the lives of residents [Public Radio Tulsa].

Quote of the Day

“Most of those producers that rely on that aquifer for their livelihood, and have for generations, realize that if they want their future generations to be able to stay there, live and prosper in the panhandle, they’re going to have to manage that resource and take care of it and make sure it’s there for them 50 to 100 years from now,.”

– Oklahoma Water Resources Board Executive Director J.D. Strong, speaking about declining water levels in the state’s aquifers (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of four-year-olds in Oklahoma enrolled in state Pre-K, Preschool Special Education, and State and Federal Head Start, 2013. The national percentage is 40.1%

Source: Status of Women in the States.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Government Aid and the Me Versus Them Mindset You don’t have to look far in the world of online commentary to find more evidence of this me versus them perception. A student-loan borrower posted the following meme to social media: “Looking back, I wished that I’d had a welfare baby instead of getting a degree — you get a free baby and don’t have to pay back welfare at 8% interest.” [Governing].

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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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