Oklahoma Policy Institute has grown a lot in the past few years. From humble beginnings in 2008, we now have a staff of 19, including talented individuals who focus on a wide range of policy issues, intensive data analysis, outreach, communications, events and operations, and more. To give you a better idea of who we are and what we all do, we are running an OK Policy Blog series highlighting our staffers.
For this edition, here’s Education Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT Coordinator Rebecca Fine:
What do you do at OK Policy?
I work on our education policy. This means covering issues about child care for infants and toddlers, early childhood education, public K-12 education, and higher education. My research and writing focuses on state-level policy and understanding how legislation or certain programs impact Oklahoma children and families.
OK Policy is the Oklahoma affiliate for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Network, which is a a group of state-based child advocacy and research organizations that use data to promote smart politics for children. As the KIDS COUNT coordinator I manage our KIDS COUNT data center, and help ensure the information is used to advance child welfare. Each year KIDS COUNT publishes a data book that gives a state-to-state comparison of childhood well-being and individual state profiles. We use this data to inform our research and advocate for policies that improve the well-being of children in Oklahoma.
What’s your favorite thing about doing this work?
I love hearing feedback from people who read my posts and learning how they use the information I provided to make positive change. It feels good knowing that our work is being used to make our schools stronger and ensure all kids have access to opportunities that can help them thrive.
What would you most like Oklahoma to become a “Top 10 State” in?
Education, of course! Education is tasked with many responsibilities. We expect our schools to prepare students for college and the workforce, but we also want our classrooms to be places where kids learn to be good citizens and caring adults.
That’s a lot to ask and sometimes it feels like an overwhelming task. But it is also exciting because we know that schools have the unique potential to shape our future. In short, thriving schools mean a thriving Oklahoma.
What else should OK Policy’s readers know about you?
I was a teacher before getting my master’s in education policy and diving into this work. I taught 6th grade science and 7th grade language arts, and my time as a teacher grounds all the research that I do here.
Also if running, biking and tennis were a triathalon, I could have been a triathlete! These are the things outside of work that keep me grounded. I also play a mean game of ping pong and love getting wrapped up in a good novel.