In The Know: State writing exam won’t be scored for third straight year

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

State writing exam won’t be scored for third straight year: That means the state is paying a vendor tens of thousands of dollars for a test that yields no results. An Aug. 24 bulletin from the state Department of Education addressed to school district test coordinators says the writing exam will only be a field test, which is used to create test questions for the following school year [Oklahoma Watch].

New Census data shows Oklahoma continues to trail nation in fighting poverty and covering uninsured: Last year was another in which Oklahoma consistently saw lower unemployment rates than the nation as a whole, but still experienced higher poverty rates. It’s clear that Oklahomans aren’t rising out of poverty, not because they aren’t working hard, but because too many jobs don’t pay a living wage [OK Policy].

Iffy tax revenue figure doesn’t bode well for the state budget, economy: While some Capitol pundits are busy guessing at the size of next year’s state budget hole, there’s actually a much more pressing fiscal issue bearing down on state government — this year’s budget. State leaders had to deal with a $611 million budget hole in coming up with this year’s spending plan, and ended up shorting all sorts of deserving programs, especially public schools. But only two months into the state fiscal year, it’s starting to look like that budget might not hold water [Tulsa World].

Facts matter when addressing education funding and policy: House Speaker Jeff Hickman recently stated that new ideas are needed when discussing teacher compensation. Speaker Hickman is correct that Oklahoma teachers are underpaid, largely contributing to Oklahoma’s current teacher shortage. Discussions aimed at addressing this problem, however, should be based on facts rather than opinion [Ryan Owens and Steve Crawford / NewsOK].

Farmers school themselves on soil health to revive Oklahoma’s dying dirt: Generations of tilling and planting on the same land have left Oklahoma’s soil in poor shape. And if farmers don’t change the way they grow crops, feeding the future won’t be easy. As Slapout, Okla., farmer Jordan Shearer puts it: “We’re creating a desert environment by plowing the damn ground.” [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Cherokee Nation would be top Oklahoma recipient under federal settlement with tribes: The Obama administration has proposed to pay Indian tribes nearly $1 billion to settle a long-running lawsuit alleging the government failed to pay the costs of running federal programs. If the federal district court approves the settlement, the Cherokee Nation could receive about $8 million, according to Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree [NewsOK].

EPA clean power rules could benefit state: Oklahoma could benefit economically from the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power plan that was announced Aug. 3. The question is whether or not the state’s political leaders will embrace the opportunities or fight the federal mandates that go into full effect in 2030. Gary D. Allison stepped out of role as Director of Sustainable Energy Resources Law at University of Tulsa College of Law as he reflected on the EPA rules [Tulsa World]. Projects already underway mean that acheiving the EPA’s clean power goals should be no problem for Oklahoma [OK Policy].

First OKC streetcar is expected to arrive in fall 2017: It will be awhile longer before residents see it in action. Under a schedule included in the contract with Czech Republic-based manufacturer INEKON Group a.s., the first of five streetcars is expected to arrive in the fall of 2017. Oklahoma City hopes to avoid manufacturing problems that delayed for a year deliveries of a nearly identical vehicle by INEKON for Seattle’s First Hill line [NewsOK].

Plan revealed for 1,300 miles of bicycle, pedestrian trails in 11-city Tulsa area: Improving city residents’ health and attracting a younger workforce would be two benefits of developing the recommendations of the new Tulsa Regional Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan, known as the GO Plan, was revealed Thursday night at a presentation sponsored by the Indian Nations Council of Governments and the Tulsa City-County Health Department [Tulsa World]. You can see the plan documents here.

Tulsa City Council moves forward with plan to establish sales tax TIF for proposed outlet mall: Councilors asked that a review panel be appointed to study the implementation of the “East Side Sales Tax TIF” and report back within 45 days. A TIF district allows for tax collections in an area to be dedicated to public infrastructure related to private development projects [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“Our state leaders know that current education funding levels are insufficient to provide appropriate services to students. In order to offer flexibility to local schools to address this state-imposed financial crisis, our legislature has voted to maintain a suspension on class size requirements, the requirement to purchase textbooks, and the requirement to make library and media expenditures at our local schools. … While the flexibility has been needed, the result is that we are now in the sixth year of this moratorium and all Oklahoma students from the 5th grade down have experienced nothing but funding cuts, overcrowded classrooms, and fewer courses while in Oklahoma’s public schools.”

-Ryan Owens and Steven Crawford, co-executive directors of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s Kindergarten to 12th grade students who were enrolled in a public school in 2014.

Source: U.S. Census American Community Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why the new overtime proposal is a win for working women: For months we’ve heard that the economy is finally moving in the right direction, except for one hitch: working people’s wages, particularly those of women, are not going up. One big reason: for years, millions of workers have clocked in more and more hours without ever seeing an extra cent in their paycheck [MomsRising].

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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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