In The Know: Oklahoma ranks 5th in US for child homelessness

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.

A new report ranks Oklahoma 5th worst in the US among states in the percentage of children under age 18 who are homeless, with a 43,643 children experiencing homelessness in 2012-2013. The report is available here. On the OK Policy Blog, we explained why a two-generation approach that reaches parents as well as children is essential if we want to help children in poverty. The monitors overseeing the implementation of Oklahoma’s plan to improve the well-being of foster children have issued a written statement warning the state is failing to make good-faith efforts in instituting reforms.

Two Tulsa first-grade teachers say they’re refusing to subject their students to more tests or surveys, but TPS Superintendent Keith Ballard has issued a letter responding that opting out of tests is not an option. An Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexually assaulting 13 women will likely stand trial. Rep. John Bennet (R-Sallisaw) is pushing for the US to designate CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) a terrorist group after the United Arab Emirates added the group to their terrorist list over the weekend. The Stat  Department rejected Rep. Bennet’s suggestion and say they’re asking the UAE to justify their reasoning. State Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued an opinion concluding that the Legislature acted illegally when it diverted $5 million from an uncompensated care fund to balance the budget.

OK Policy has released our updated and improved CountySTATS 2014, a tool for learning about Oklahoma’s counties and residents covering demographics, the economy, education and health. State higher education leaders met Wednesday to discuss their FY 2016 goals – namely, a $1.086 billion budget request and how to convince the legislature to fund it. State Sen. Brian Crain (R-Tulsa) says he plans to propose two $2.5 billion bond issues for common and higher education. A deal struck between the city of Tulsa and the county regarding the Tulsa Jail could cost the city up to $700,000. The Tulsa World praised both parties for compromising on the issue instead of litigating.

The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board took issue with the predictions made by Dr. Lawrence Jacobs regarding the future of health reform in America. At an event sponsored by OK Policy and the Scholars Strategy Network, Dr. Jacobs predicted that as more people gained coverage under the Affordable care Act, opposition to the law would eventually fade. Slides, audio and media coverage of Dr. Jacobs’ talk can be found here. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt argued that while the ACA’s future may be bumpy, it’s not a dead end.

 Oklahoma Watch wrote about what consumers should know now that open enrollment is underway. A Q&A is available here. Amid the media coverage of the Keystone XL group in the Senate, the International Business Times discussed the quieter conflict over the section of the pipeline already constructed in Oklahoma and Texas. At a three-day workshop hosted by the Oklahoma and US Geological Surveys, experts met to discuss how “non-tectonic” earthquakes (that is, earthquakes triggered by disposal wells or fracturing) should be accounted for on national seismic hazard maps, which are used by construction and insurance agencies and public safety planners. The Number of the Day is the number of  LGBT students in Oklahoma who reported being physically assaulted in the last year due to their sexual orientation, the 3rd highest percentage in the US. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times praised schools implementing free classroom breakfasts.

In The News

Study: Nearly 44,000 Children in Oklahoma Are Homeless

Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of child homelessness in the nation, and the number of homeless children has grown, according to a report released this week. Oklahoma ranks fifth worst among states in the percentage of children under 18 who are homeless, according to the American Institutes for Research, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Read the report here.

To help kids, help parents

About 168,000 children age 5 and younger in Oklahoma live in low-income families (making less than 200 percent of the poverty threshold, or $47,000 for a family of four). Like most families in America, the parents of these young children must juggle the demands of work, child care, school, and family time. Yet balancing those priorities can be impossible for parents without affordable child care, a predictable work schedule, or dependable transportation.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

DHS on notice to make good-faith improvements in foster care

The monitors overseeing the state’s agreed-upon improvement plan for the care of foster children have issued a written warning to the Oklahoma Department of Human Service to start meeting its goals. A three-person panel released a remedial order taking DHS to task for not making good-faith efforts in several areas of the Pinnacle Plan, which is the settlement agreement in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging abuses in foster care.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Tulsa teachers refuse to give student tests; Superintendent: That’s not an option

Two Tulsa teachers who have vowed not to subject their first-graders to any more student surveys or high-stakes tests for the purposes of teacher performance evaluations are getting a national audience for their concerns. But Superintendent Keith Ballard pushed back immediately, sending out a letter to all employees Tuesday evening stating that opting out of tests is not an option in Tulsa Public Schools.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Judge: OKC Officer Accused Of Sexual Assaults Will Go To Trial

A judge ruled Tuesday afternoon that there is enough evidence for an Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexual assaults to go to trial. While protesters rallied around the courthouse about 32 felony counts, prosecutors inside the courtroom were adding even more charges for the judge to consider.

Read more from NewsOn6.

OK Lawmaker Calls For CAIR To Be Designated A Terrorist Organization

An Oklahoma lawmaker is asking for the Muslim advocacy group, CAIR, to be designated a terrorist organization, after the United Arab Emirates added the group to their terrorist list over the weekend. Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, is also calling for the Oklahoma Attorney General to investigate CAIR.

Read more from News9.

Legislative transfer of $5 million from med fund illegal, Pruitt says

A recent Oklahoma Attorney General’s opinion concluded the Legislature improperly took $5 million out a fund for uncompensated care and diverted it to balance the budget. Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, requested the opinion from Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, which released it Tuesday.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Better know Oklahoma with CountySTATs 2014

Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to release a new and improved tool for learning about Oklahoma’s counties and residents. CountySTATS 2014 covers demographics, the economy, education, and health. The factsheets display statistics for each of the state’s 77 counties, including key local statistics at-a-glance, complicated information with colorful graphics and tools for quick comparisons along a range of indicators.

Read more from OK Policy.

Leaders make case for higher education increase

State higher education leaders from across the state gathered Wednesday to discuss their fiscal year 2016 goals and how to convince the Legislature to fund them. The $1.086 billion budget request approved earlier this month by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education seeks nearly 10 percent more than the current budget.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma lawmaker proposes $2.5 billion bond issuses for common, higher education

State Sen. Brian Crain is thinking big. Really big. The Tulsa Republican said he will propose a $2.5 billion bond issue for common education and another $2.5 billion bond issue for higher education. That’s billion, with a “B.” Both bond issues would have to be approved by a vote of the people. The principal from the bond issues would be invested and Crain estimated each would generate about $150 million annually that could be spent on education.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

New jail deal could cost city an additional $700,000

The city’s cost to house municipal inmates in the Tulsa Jail could increase by approximately $275,000 to $700,000 a year under the terms of a proposed agreement with the county, city officials said Wednesday. The proposed deal, which would run from Nov. 1 to June 30, calls for the city to pay $59 per municipal inmate per day but no booking fee.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Compromise at last on Tulsa Jail costs

After weeks of tense negotiations, the city and county have compromised on a Tulsa Jail rate that is fair to everyone. The big winners, however, are taxpayers who witnessed elected officials stay at the table until they could come to terms instead of running to the courthouse for what promised to be protracted litigation. We commend both sides — led by Mayor Dewey Bartlett and County Commissioner Ron Peters — for putting the public good above egos.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Opposition to Obamacare not likely to subside

Lawrence R. Jacobs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the University of Minnesota, is an expert on federal health care reform. He authored a book on passage of Obamacare. In a recent Oklahoma City appearance, Jacobs predicted there won’t be any major changes to the law in the near future, despite GOP control of Congress.

Read more from The Oklahoman.

See also: Slides, audio and media coverage of Dr. Jacobs’ talk.

Road bumpy, not a dead end

This week marks the start of the second year of enrollment in the new health insurance marketplace, or exchanges, created by the Affordable Care Act. Last year, close to 70,000 Oklahomans purchased insurance through the marketplace, most with the help of tax credits that substantially lowered premium costs. More are expected to enroll this year.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Underway

An estimated 446,000 Oklahomans can now obtain individual health plans for 2015 through the online marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act. The 2015 open enrollment period began Saturday, Nov. 15, and ends Sunday, Feb. 15. Federal officials and ACA advocates are encouraging people to complete their applications by Dec. 15 to avoid ensure their coverage begins on Jan. 1.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Q&A: Affordable Care Act, Round Two

On Saturday, the federal government began accepting applications and renewals for individual health plans sold through its online insurance marketplace. Open enrollment for 2015 coverage will continue until Monday, Feb. 15. Here are answers to many key questions about buying insurance on the health-care exchange in Oklahoma.

Read more from KGOU.

As Senate Readies Keystone XL Pipeline Vote, Debate On Existing Gulf Coast Section Simmers In Oklahoma And Texas

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a bill that would force approval of the Canada-to-U.S. Keystone XL crude oil pipeline. Yet as the fight intensifies in Washington, a quieter debate is simmering in Oklahoma and Texas, the two states where the pipeline’s southern leg is already operating. At issue is a 487-mile section called the Gulf Coast Pipeline.

Read more from the International Business Times.

Experts Meet in Oklahoma to Update U.S. Maps With Manmade Earthquake Hazards

Scientists, regulators and technical experts from the energy industry met in Oklahoma to discuss how earthquakes triggered by oil and gas operations should be accounted for on national seismic hazard maps, which are used by the construction and insurance industries and pubic safety planners. The three-day workshop started Nov. 17 and was co-hosted by the Oklahoma Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Read more from StateImpact.

Quote of the Day

“You don’t get something for nothing. We need to make the case that if we want a prosperous economy, if we want an educated population, we’re going to have to invest in it.”

– University of Oklahoma Board of Regents member Kirk Humphreys, discussing the Regents’ $1.086 billion budget request for fiscal year 2016. The figure is nearly 10 percent higher than the current budget. (Source:

Number of the Day


Percent of LGBT students in Oklahoma who reported being physically assaulted in the last year due to their sexual orientation, the 3rd highest percentage in the US

Source: The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network via Huffington Post.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Classroom Breakfasts: a Good Idea, Overdue

When he was running for mayor, Bill de Blasio had a plan to improve the health and learning of tens of thousands of schoolchildren. It was to require all public schools to serve free breakfast in the classroom, instead of in the cafeteria before school started. The change was needed, he said, because so few eligible children take advantage of free cafeteria breakfasts — either because it is too hard to get to school that early or because participating in the program stigmatizes recipients as needy.

Read more from the New York Times.

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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