[In The Know] Thirteen Oklahoma soldiers killed in two months

In 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 gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that over the past two months, thirteen Oklahoma soldiers have died in combat in one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions.  Fixed mortgage rates fell to 4.01 percent this week, the lowest rate since they began keeping records in 1971.  The unfunded liability for Oklahoma teachers’ pensions has dropped by three billion dollars, putting the public pension system closer to reaching fully funded status over the next several years.

Testimony yesterday before a joint legislative committee studying illegal immigration produced scant evidence that undocumented immigrants are a financial burden on the state.  The executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs asked his board to authorize an increased use of force in response to recent violent disturbances at a juvenile facility in Tecumseh.  A state commission is considering adoption of a new system where Oklahoma teachers would be evaluated based on students’ standardized test performance.

Oklahoma continues to lose ground on domestic violence; the state now ranks 11th in the nation for the number of men who murder women.  The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is hosting a Legislative Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the University of Central Oklahoma.  In today’s Policy Note, a report from the National Resource Center on Violence Against Women explores economic abuse experienced by domestic violence survivors and economic empowerment programs designed to address abuse and its aftermath.  Today’s Number of the Day is the number of Oklahomans without health insurance coverage in 2010.

In The News

Oklahoma Guard Members Give Glimpses Of Deadly Duty

In the past two months, 13 Oklahoma soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Twelve of them were members of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade.  The National Guard tells us the brigade is fighting a dangerous mission. Now, we’re getting a picture of what the war is like for our hometown heroes.  Twelve soldiers in 58 days.  That breaks down to about one death every four days. Oklahoma has experienced a tremendous impact since July as Sooner soldiers take on the Taliban in one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous areas.  Now, a dozen families are left without a father, a brother or a son.

Read more from NewsOn6 at http://www.newson6.com/story/15574235/guard-members-give-glimpses-of-deadly-duty

Rate on 30-year mortgage falls to record 4.01 pct.

Fixed mortgage rates have fallen to historic new lows for a fourth straight week and are likely to fall further.  The average on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.01 percent from 4.09 percent this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That’s the lowest rate since the mortgage buyer began keeping records in 1971. The last time long-term rates were lower was in 1951, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years.  The average on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, ticked down to 3.28 percent. Economists say that’s the lowest rate ever for the loan.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/rate-on-30-year-mortgage-falls-to-record-4.01-pct./article/feed/301890#ixzz1ZQvfJ4on

Changes shore up $3B Oklahoma pension liability

The unfunded liability of the state’s largest public pension system has dropped by nearly $3 billion because of recent changes approved by the Legislature and strong investments, the system’s director announced Thursday.  James Wilbanks, executive director of the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System, said actuarial projections show the pension system is on track to reach 100 percent funded status within 22 years. Wilbanks said the pension system’s funded ratio has improved from 47.9 percent to 56.7 percent.  “For more than 40 years, the unfunded liability of the Teachers Retirement System has been an albatross around the neck of Oklahoma,” Wilbanks said in a statement. “But now we can see a real and attainable time frame by which the system can reach full funding.”

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/changes-shore-up-3b-oklahoma-pension-liability/article/3608675#ixzz1ZQxENop9

Ortega: Testimony does not support need for more immigration laws

The new House co-chairman of the Joint Immigration Committee said he heard nothing from state agencies Thursday to convince him that more legislation is needed to address that issue.  “Based on the information that I’m getting here today, I really don’t see that,” Rep. Charles Ortega said.  He said he keeps hearing allegations that undocumented individuals place a major financial burden on state services, which some say justifies strengthening immigration laws, but he did not hear that Thursday.

Read more from the Journal Record at http://journalrecord.com/23rd-and-Lincoln/2011/09/29/ortega-testimony-does-not-support-need-for-more-immigration-laws/

Board asked to authorize increased force in juvenile centers

Responding to increased gang violence at a state juvenile center in Tecumseh, the executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs on Thursday asked his board to consider taking steps to allow increased use of force.  Use of armed security officers, Tasers and pepper spray and expanded use of mechanical restraints and solitary confinement are among options that Executive Director Gene Christian recommended the board consider.  Christian said recent violent disturbances at the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh have created a need for quick action, but said the board also needs to weigh its decisions carefully because they will “impact this state for many years to come.”

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/board-asked-to-authorize-increased-force-in-juvenile-centers/article/3608952#ixzz1ZRMo1ihl

Oklahoma considers value-added teacher evaluations

Under a new teacher evaluation system being developed, Oklahoma teachers may be categorized based on whether students in their classroom perform better or worse than expected on standardized tests.  Known as value-added evaluations, the model is notorious for being used in 2010 by the Los Angeles Times to rate about 11,500 elementary school teachers from Los Angeles Unified public schools.  Teachers were ranked on a metric of least effective to most effective depending on students’ expected performance. The results were published on the newspaper’s website.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/oklahoma-considers-value-added-teacher-evaluations/article/3608771#ixzz1ZRNoqOS7

Domestic Violence On The Rise In Oklahoma

Oklahoma continues to lose ground in the fight against domestic violence. Last month, the state fell from 15th to 11th in the nation for the number of women killed by men.  Experts say domestic violence is on a generation to generation cycle and will continue to be if we all don’t do our part to break the cycle.  Deb Stanaland is in a wonderful, happy marriage now. She has been for 15 years, but her adult life didn’t start that way.  Stanaland didn’t realize there was help and hope at places like the YWCA.  “You want to go to someone who is trained and understands the safety risks,” said Jan Peery, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma City YWCA. “These can be very dangerous, very lethal situations, not only for the victim, but for anyone else who may get involved.”

Read more at NewsOn6 at www.newson6.com/story/15583178/domestic-violence-on-the-rise-in-oklahoma

Upcoming Event: OICA’s Fall Legislative Forum, Tuesday, October 11 at UCO

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is hosting a Legislative Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the University of Central Oklahoma.  Participants at this year’s Forum will hear a state budget overview from OK Policy Director David Blatt and listen to a panel of state agency directors as they explain how recent budget cuts impact children. The state agency panel includes: Mike Fogarty with the Health Care Authority; Terri White with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Howard Hendrick with Department of Human Services, Gene Christian with the Office of Juvenile Affairs and Toni Frioux of the State Department of Health.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at https://okpolicy.org/upcoming-event-oicas-fall-legislative-forum-tuesday-october-11-at-uco/

Quote of the Day

We have room to work within federal law and create policy that will benefit the state, but we need to make sure it’s a benefit to the state and not a burden on the state.

Rep. Charles Ortega, on efforts to address illegal immigration in Oklahoma

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans without health insurance coverage in 2010.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Economic Empowerment of Domestic Violence Survivors

Economic abuse by intimate partner is a form of domestic violence and includes a range of tactics used by an abuser to undermine the economic independence of a current or former intimate partner. Economic empowerment is an overarching theme that includes the following: 1) an increase in financial literacy or the knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions and obtain resources; 2) an improvement in economic self-efficacy or the belief that one has the resources, options, and confidence to be successful; and 3) an enhancement in economic self-sufficiency or economic behaviors that demonstrate their economic self-efficacy or financial literacy regarding personal financial management

Read more from VAWNet at http://vawnet.org/applied-research-papers/summary.php?doc_id=2540&find_type=web_desc_AR

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


One thought on “[In The Know] Thirteen Oklahoma soldiers killed in two months

Leave a Reply

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