Looking back: Our most popular blog posts of 2011

Each year we try to rouse ourselves out of our post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s slumber long enough to pull together a Top 10 list of our most popular blog posts. As we said last year, if this organization, with its rich history dating all the way back to the early months of 2008, stands for anything, it stands for Tradition.  So without further ado: Our 10 blog posts that received the most hits in 2011. If you missed any of these the first time around, here’s another chance to take a look.

10. What’s at stake: the toll of budget cuts – With state agencies facing a third successive year of funding reductions, this post surveyed the impact that cuts have had across a broad range of programs and services. This is just one example of why OK Policy once again failed to be voted “Most Upbeat Policy Organization”.

9. The toll of budget cuts: Programs promoting high-quality teaching and schools under the axe – Following a ten percent cut in appropriations, the Department of Education eliminated funding for a wide range of programs. This blog looked at three such programs  – Great Expectations, A+ Schools, and Literacy First – that were zeroed out despite proven success in training better teaches and raising school performance.

8. Guest post (Trevor Shanklin): Oklahoma, we need to talk about drugs – With this post, our summer intern went some way towards disproving the idea that you’ve gotta be stoned to imagine that Oklahomans are ready for an honest conversation about reforming drug policies.

7. The Language Police: Bills would enact new restrictions on speech – Among the slew of restrictive immigration bills introduced in the 2011 session were measures aimed at imposing draconian restrictions on when public employees could use languages other than English. While all these bills failed last session, the adage that “No bad idea is truly ever dead at the Capitol” is worth remembering.

6. Out of the mouths of babes: Legislature moves to cut child nutrition benefits – Why would the Legislature try to prohibit non-profits and faith-based organizations in Tulsa and Oklahoma county from administering child nutrition benefits to thousands of women and children? Believe it or not, the answer rhymes with “shmabortion”.

5. Health care reform: Implementing insurance exchanges – With this and other pieces, OK Policy tried to get beyond the heated rhetoric of the health care reform debate and examine how the new law really works. This post on health insurance exchanges was written in February, before Oklahoma returned a $54 million implementation grant and made clear its unwillingness to develop a state-operated exchange that complies with federal requirements.

4. Get a job: Why restricting employment for ex-felons is counterproductive –  When the duly-elected mayor of Pawnee was forced out of office because of a prior felony conviction, it drew national attention. This post explored the wide range of employment obstacles ex-felons face and why this issue needs to be part of Oklahoma’s ongoing initiative for criminal justice reform.

3. Why education reform is not like musical chairs – Another year, another misguided effort to solve complex problems with simple formulas. In this case, we showed why a proposal to require that 65 percent of all education dollars be spent on direct instruction won’t work if we’re cutting education funding and just playing musical chairs with the remaining dollars.

2. Cutting the top income tax rate: Who benefits? –  Would the Oklahoma legislature actually allow a $120 million tax cut to take effect at the same time as funding is being slashed for a third consecutive year for schools, law enforcement and social services? Well, duh!

1. Child care cuts deal a blow to low-income working families and kids – The year’s top post considered another program threatened by shrinking state resources. In this case, proposed changes to the DHS child care subsidy program that would have raised co-payments and eligibility limits for working parents were deferred an ultimately abandoned.

We appreciate all of you who followed our blog and contributed comments and guest posts. We look forward to continuing the conversation in 2012!

UPDATE: As if the 2000 Presidential election wasn’t lesson enough, we have a fresh reminder of why not to declare a winner before all the votes are counted. The new last-minute, runaway winner for most popular blog post of 2011:

1. New insurance rules throw the baby out with the bathwater – Maybe our readers were genuinely outraged that the Insurance Commission would pass a rule allowing carriers to exclude infants from child-only health plans. Or maybe there’s something irresistibly compelling about the sad baby picture that accompanied the post – the same sad baby from our #6 top post.  Clearly, policymakers better think twice about making that baby sad.



Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

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