In The Know: Tulsa Public Schools projects 23 percent of district 3rd graders will be retained

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 Tulsa Public Schools is projecting that 23 percent of district third graders will be retained next year if they do not improve reading scores. Oklahoma Policy Institute and CAP Tulsa previously released an in-depth report on the new third grade reading law that could hugely increase the number of kids repeating the third grade. Speakers at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation’s annual symposium discussed the social and economic costs of extreme inequality. Today is the anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and Voices of Oklahoma has an interview with a survivor who was 19 on that day in 1921.

Oklahoma Policy Institute released our annual Budget Highlights report, an informative and accessible ways to track Oklahoma’s public spending. Moore Rep. Mark McBride is calling for tighter restrictions on roofers who come in from out-of-state after natural disasters. Article 3 discussed how our tax dollars saved lives in Moore. A new study ranks Oklahoma 2nd worst in the nation for resident reporting sleep problems. The EPA is recommending Superfund status for a former oil refinery site in Bristow that shows evidence of lead contamination and other potential cancer-causing agents. The pipeline company TransCanada is seeking a restraining order to bar Keystone XL protesters from their construction sites.

The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education will vote today on funding levels for Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities. M. Scott Carter writes that Oklahoma has taken a decade to begin fixing dangerous situations at our veterans’ nursing homes. The Tulsa World writes that Speaker TW Shannon’s opposition to Common Core standards for schools is misguided. The OK Policy Blog previously explained why Common Core is not a ‘federal takeover’ of schools.

The Number of the Day is the number of people on death row in Oklahoma who have been exonerated and were ultimately released because of evidence of their innocence. In today’s Policy Note, Paul Krugman explains why the war against food stamps being pushed by some politicians is ugly and destructive.

In The News

Tulsa Public Schools projects 23 percent of district third graders could be retained next year

Faced with the prospect of holding back more than 20 percent of all third-graders, Tulsa Public Schools is continuing its focus on reversing a downward spiral in reading scores. Principals from every school in the district gathered for two straight days to learn about a new, comprehensive approach to intervention for struggling students and prevention strategies beginning in prekindergarten. With a looming requirement to hold back third-graders who can’t read at their grade level, the stakes have never been higher to get kids caught up.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Oklahoma’s New Third Grade Retention Law from Oklahoma Policy Institute and CAP Tulsa

Social safety net, opportunity in decline, symposium speakers say

Oklahomans tend to be more into gun shows and individual responsibility than seminars on race relations, wealth inequality and holes in the social safety net. That makes the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation’s annual symposiums all the more intriguing. This year’s symposium is titled “The Value of Reconciliation” and deals largely with the social and economic costs of inequality. Stemming as the symposium and the Franklin Center do from the legacy of Tulsa’s 1921 Race Riot, race was woven into much of the discussion. But, as keynote speaker Peter Edelman pointed out, more white people live in poverty than any other ethnic group. A large part of that remedy, Edelman said, isn’t even being discussed because of what he said are misguided efforts to further reduce social welfare programs.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Voices of Oklahoma interviews Tulsa Race riot survivor

92 years ago, on May 31st, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot began. Otis Clark who was 19 on that day talks about his experience. Otis was 106 years old at the time of this interview on November 23, 2009. While not an eyewitness to the lynch mob, he and his friend were the target of rifle shots and his house was burned down. He chose to leave Tulsa to escape the encampments setup for blacks.

Listen to the interview from Voices of Oklahoma.

FY 2014 Budget Highlights

OK Policy’s annual Budget Highlights issue brief is one of the most informative and accessible ways to track Oklahoma’s public spending. Today we’ve released the FY 2014 Budget Highlights, which include a bullet point summary of the state budget, six charts illustrating different aspects of the budget, and a table showing appropriations for every state agency going back to 2009.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Lawmaker from Moore wants tighter restrictions on roofers

After the tornadoes come the roofers — or those claiming to be. While many coming from out of state are legitimate, many are fly-by-night roofers who don’t register with a state board, lawmakers warn. Laws are on the books to protect those needing a new roof or to make repairs after last week’s tornadoes and storms, but Oklahoma lawmakers missed a chance this year to provide more safeguards, say three legislators whose measures stalled. Rep. Mark McBride, who lives about a quarter-mile from the path of last week’s tornado that tore through much of Moore, said he chased an out-of-state roofer earlier this week off his neighbor’s roof.

Read more from NewsOK.

How your tax dollars saved lives in Moore, Oklahoma

Given the Moore and Joplin tornados’ comparable destructive power, while the events in Moore were indeed tragic, it could have been much worse. What prevented Moore from becoming another Joplin? Sixteen minutes. Sixteen minutes to lock down schools and offices to brace for what was to come. Sixteen minutes for pedestrians to seek refuge in a nearby basement. Sixteen minutes saved more lives than we may ever know. Where did this time come from? Your tax dollars.

Read more from Article 3.

Poor health among factors leading to Oklahoma’s loss of sleep

Kendra Wright-Smith is an insomniac. At one point when she was so sleep-deprived, Smith caught herself once having a conversation with someone who wasn’t there. “You have to go to work. You can’t call in tired,” she said. She’s by no means alone, according to a recent study by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study found significant regional differences in sleep disturbance, with people living in the South – including Oklahoma – more likely to report sleep problems and, consequently, daytime weariness. Oklahoma ranked No. 2 on the list – No. 1 being the worst, said Dr. Kim Coon, a professor of psychiatry and the director of psychotherapy education in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

EPA recommends Superfund status for polluted former oil refinery site in Bristow

“Superfund” is not a word that Bristow Mayor Ralph Barnett is particularly thrilled about seeing in the same sentence as the name of his town. But evidence of lead contamination and other potential cancer-causing agents at the former Wilcox Oil Co. refinery northeast of town has prompted the federal Environmental Protection Agency to recommend the area as a Superfund site so that an extensive cleanup effort can begin. Barnett said many of the tanks were hauled off a long time ago, and people might not even realize the property’s history. But records show that vegetation on the property is stressed, and in several areas the land is barren. Crude oil was once 4 inches deep at a church on the site after a cap broke off an old pipeline. Runoff is also a concern.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Pipeline company seeks restraining order to bar Keystone XL protesters from construction site

Pipeline company TransCanada has no grounds to seek a restraining order against those opposed to its Keystone XL pipeline project, an attorney for the protesters said in a court filing this week. Attorney Doug Parr is asking an Atoka County judge to dismiss the restraining order sought by TransCanada earlier this month to block further protests by people affiliated with the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance. TransCanada asked the judge to bar the environmental group and 21 people from interfering with pipeline construction. The judge granted the request against three people who already had been arrested in Atoka County, but did not rule on the others.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education consider funding

The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education will vote on funding levels for Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities at a meeting Friday. Lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin announced a $7.1 billion budget deal earlier this month. That deal included a $33 million increase for higher education, most of which goes to cover the cost of the $24 million debt service on the 2005 higher education capital bond issue. In a meeting Thursday, Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson said he was pleased lawmakers included the bond issue funding as a part of higher education’s base appropriation. Still, he said, the amount falls short of the required funding levels higher education officials put forth earlier this year.

Read more from NewsOK.

M. Scott Carter: Oklahoma hasn’t treated soldiers well

It shouldn’t have taken a decade. Despite the speeches, the pledges of support and enough high-handed flag waving to put Hollywood to shame, Oklahoma hasn’t treated its veterans that well. Yes, we have a state agency dedicated to their needs, and yes, we have seven long-term care centers for those soldiers in the twilight of their life. We are also the home of two federal Veterans Affairs centers and enough military infrastructure and defense-related spending here to make the Pentagon blush. But we haven’t treated our soldiers well.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Tulsa World: Speaker Shannon’s opposition to Common Core is misguided

Despite misguided opposition from state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, the Common Core state education standards program is still alive, at least for another year. Common Core standards, adopted by 45 states including Oklahoma, are intended to boost academic rigor in public schools and better prepare students for college or career. Common Core sets educational standards but lets the states decide how to reach them. It leaves it to the individual states and school districts to develop their own curricula and choose their own textbooks, workbooks and other teaching materials. Unfortunately, Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton, bought in to a misinformation campaign against Common Core that sprung up out of state.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Previously: No, Common Core is not a ‘federal takeover’ of schools from the OK Policy Blog

Quote of the Day

People say, ‘They’re trading food stamps for other things.’ Well, yes, they are. How else are they going to pay the rent?

-Georgetown Law Professor Peter Edelman, speaking at the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation’s annual symposium in Tulsa. Edelman said half the jobs in the United States pay less than $34,000 a year, that 14 million Americans have annual earnings of less than half the poverty rate, and that 6 million have no income at all except for food stamps, which amount to the equivalent of one-third the poverty rate.

Number of the Day


The number of people on death row in Oklahoma who have been exonerated and were ultimately released because of evidence of their innocence

Source: Death Penalty Information Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The ugly, destructive war against food stamps

Like many observers, I usually read reports about political goings-on with a sort of weary cynicism. Every once in a while, however, politicians do something so wrong, substantively and morally, that cynicism just won’t cut it; it’s time to get really angry instead. So it is with the ugly, destructive war against food stamps. The food stamp program — which these days actually uses debit cards, and is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — tries to provide modest but crucial aid to families in need. And the evidence is crystal clear both that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients really need the help, and that the program is highly successful at reducing “food insecurity,” in which families go hungry at least some of the time.

Read more from the New York Times.

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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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