In The Know: Common Core opponents rally at Capitol

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

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Today you should know that more than 200 parents and children rallied at the Capitol to lobby senators to repeal state Common Core academic standards. An Oklahoma City teacher wrote an op-ed in NewsOK on why she likes Common Core. Three state lawmakers wrote in the Tulsa World about their bill (HB 2625) to end automatic third-grade retention.

The OK Policy Blog shared three trends to watch from Oklahoma’s Annual Report — Oklahoma’s reliance on federal funds has dropped significantly since 2011, the size of state government continues to shrink, and education spending is down $50 million since 2012 and $610 million from 2009. The federal government announced an additional $109 million in disaster aid for Moore and the state of Oklahoma.

The Tulsa World described the cramped conditions at the Tulsa County juvenile justice center. On April 1 voters will decide whether to fund a new juvenile justice center with sales tax increases. Neighbors of a closed Halliburton Co. plant in Duncan believe that soil and water contamination from the plant has given them cancer and other health problems. A lawsuit revealed that Halliburton knew about risks of contamination nearly 3 years before they notified area residents.

The U.S. government shutdown in October 2013 cut visitation to Oklahoma national park sites in half and cost Sulphur and the surrounding area an estimated $1 million. For the second year in a row, Governor Fallin was given the Black Hole award by Freedom of Information Oklahoma due to her efforts to shield records of her decision-making process from the public. 

Oklahoma’s prison system doesn’t have all of the drugs necessary to carry out an execution set for this week, and it hasn’t met the conditions under law that would allow a switch to electrocution or firing squad. Former House Speaker Kris Steele wrote in The Journal Record that the U.S. House needs to move forward on immigration reform. NewsOK called for the Oklahoma House to fund completion of the American Indian Cultural Center.

The Number of the Day is how much the state of Oklahoma spent per resident in 2013, less than every year going back to 2008. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times reports that despite having more education, low-wage workers are finding poverty harder to escape.

In The News

Common Core opponents rally at Capitol

More than 200 parents and children clad in bright green T-shirts swarmed state Capitol hallways Monday to lobby senators to repeal state Common Core academic standards. Common Core standards are a set of academic standards used for Oklahoma’s kindergarten through 12th-grade students in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The standards were developed by state education chiefs and governors from 48 states. The standards have been a hot topic at the Oklahoma Legislature this year, with groups showing up to lobby for and against them.

Read more from NewsOK.

OKC Teacher: Why I like Common Core

As a high school English teacher who integrated Common Core State Standards into the classroom several years ago, I’ve seen firsthand how students have benefited from this type of learning. With Common Core, we’re asking students to be creators and thinkers. Students are looking at all kinds of texts at a deeper, more insightful level, with more creativity. Although students still have to memorize and learn the basics, we’re letting them take the material and build their own knowledge through assignments that are a long way from the “skill and drill” of the past. It’s made a world of difference in what they’re doing.

Read more from NewsOK.

Reps. Katie Henke, Dennis Casey and Jadine Nollan: It is time to end automatic third-grade retention

When state lawmakers voted in favor of forcing schools to retain automatically third-grade students who fail a state reading test, they had good intentions. They wanted to ensure students were reading at grade level at a young age, because it is a critical factor in a child’s later success. The problem with the reform is that it threatens to create collateral damage in the name of improving reading intervention. Thousands of Oklahoma children will be retained under the current language of the reform.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Three trends to watch from Oklahoma’s Annual Report

Every year Oklahoma compiles a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which details where the state’s money came from and how it was spent. The CAFR provides a big picture view of everything our state government is doing. Here are three trends that stand out from the most recent report.

Read more from the OK Policy blog.

Feds Give Additional $109 Million In Aid To Oklahoma

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced an additional $109 million in disaster aid for Moore and the state of Oklahoma for recovery efforts from last year’s tornadoes and other disasters. Moore will receive nearly $26 million and the state will receive $83 million from the federal agency’s community development block grant program. Monday’s announcement is in addition to nearly $28 million in HUD funds announced last August.

Read more from KGOU.

Tulsa County to vote on expanding cramped juvenile center

A seat separates them. A young black girl and a young white boy. They may not know each other, but this much they have in common: they’re sad, or angry, maybe even desperate. The sour looks on their faces and their down-turned heads give it away — — and the fact that they’re sitting in the middle of the crowded Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau waiting area on a sparkling weekday afternoon. It’s this way every day at the 46,000-square-foot facility at 315 S. Gilcrease Museum Road.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Neighbors of Duncan Halliburton plant worry about soil, water contamination

It was a mystery to Quail Drive resident Voris “PeeWee” Owens why the fish died in his pond filled with the clear, fresh drinking water from his well. The next morning, there they were — I could see all their white bellies,” Owens, 73, recalls. For years, Owens flooded his vegetable garden with the abundant, sweet-tasting water from the well. For 25 years, he and wife Charlotte drank the well water at their brick ranch house on Quail Drive. “We thought it was good water,” Charlotte Owens said. “It tasted good — we just didn’t know what was in it.”

Read more from NewsOK.

Federal Government Shutdown Cut Visitation at Oklahoma Park Sites By Half

The U.S. government shutdown in October 2013 was the culmination of a national political fight over federal budgeting, but its effects were felt far from Washington, D.C., including at two federal park sites in Oklahoma. Sulphur, Okla. relies heavily on the tourism revenue it gets as a result of being attached to the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge, which was shutdown for the first half of October along with the rest of the country’s national parks and wildlife refuges.

Read more from StateImpact.

Gov. Fallin earns latest award, but it is not a good thing

An organization whose goal is to support groups and individuals trying to access open records or have access to meetings that are illegally closed has named our governor as this year’s recipient of an award no state official would want to receive. Local organization, Freedom of Information Oklahoma, has recognized Governor Mary Fallin as this year’s recipient of their Black Hole recognition. The Black Hole award recognizes an individual, agency or organization that has most thwarted the free flow of information.

Read more from KFOR.

Oklahoma attorney general: State can’t obtain some drugs necessary for this week’s execution

Oklahoma’s prison system doesn’t have all of the drugs necessary to carry out an execution set for this week, the state attorney general said Monday, and it hasn’t met the conditions under law that would allow a switch to electrocution or firing squad. The state says it is looking for any way to proceed with Thursday’s execution, even if it requires a last-minute procedure change that could trigger appeals by Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner. Lockett is to die this Thursday and Charles Warner’s execution date is March 27.

Read more from The Republic.

Steele: Time for immigration reform is now

Policymakers have a responsibility to identify practical solutions to real-life problems and work toward creating a better tomorrow. The U.S. House of Representatives Republican leadership recently took a step in the right direction in laying out principles on immigration reform. However, the almost instantaneous backing away from these principles was disheartening. What happened? Is Congress operating the same way our archaic immigration system does – on fear? Fear of someone different, fear of the unknown and fear that opportunity to better one’s life will be taken away is evident within the current system. It is time to solve this problem. Failure to recognize that punishing those different than us leads to separation instead of assimilation will only further this cycle of fear.

Read more from The Journal Record.

Oklahoma House should vote on Indian cultural center bill

The idea to use $40 million in unclaimed property funds to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum appears to be losing ground at the Legislature, particularly in the House. Not a surprise, perhaps, but still disappointing. The AICCM sits half-finished along the Oklahoma River east of downtown Oklahoma City. Construction has been on hold for two years. In hand is $40 million in private money pledged to get the museum completed — provided that the state comes through with an additional $40 million.

Read more from The Oklahoman.

Quote of the Day

It’s kind of an unsustainable crunch. The governor has Complete College America and wants to graduate more students. Meanwhile, we’re cutting the dollars and, therefore, how do you make that up?

-Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education requested an increase of $76.3 million for the next fiscal year, but the governor has called for a cut of nearly $50 million (Source:

Number of the Day


The amount the Oklahoma government spent per resident in 2013, less than every year going back to 2008

Source: OK Policy, “Three trends to watch from Oklahoma’s Annual Report”

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Low-Wage Workers Are Finding Poverty Harder to Escape

At 7 in the morning, they are already lined up — poultry plant workers, housekeepers, discount store clerks — to ask for help paying their heating bills or feeding their families. And once Metropolitan Ministries opens at 8 a.m., these workers fill the charity’s 40 chairs, with a bawling infant adding to the commotion. From pockets and handbags they pull out utility bills or rent statements and hand them over to caseworkers, who often write checks — $80, $110, $150 — to patch over gaps in meeting this month’s expenses or filling the gas tank to get to work.

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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