The Weekly Wonk: Education funding package a good start, but there’s still work to do

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

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This Week from OK Policy

OK Policy released a new fact sheet on the recent education funding package – the funding approved by lawmakers for education is just a start and doesn’t come close to fully funding education. Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite has said they will lead an initiative to overturn the tax increases in that funding package, and Executive Director David Blatt explained how that might work. Blatt’s Journal Record column reminded us that the education movement we’ve been watching for the last weeks was a long time in the making.

Policy Analyst Ryan Genztler updated us on the progress in criminal justice reform – the now watered down Justice Reform Task Force measured will not be enough to avoid the need for at least one new prison. Blatt pointed out that Oklahoma has made progress on collecting sales tax on online purchases. And don’t forget to check out our Bill Watch post to see what we’ll be following next week.

OK Policy in the News

Genztler spoke with Public Radio International about the dysfunction in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. Blatt talked with the Washington Post and The Intercept about the connection between years of tax cuts and the recent teacher walkout. Blatt also spoke with CNHI about ending the capital gains deduction in Oklahoma. OK Policy data was used by Vox, Think Progress, the Tulsa World, and KFOR.

Weekly What’s That

End-of-Instruction Tests

To receive a high school diploma in Oklahoma, students must score Proficient or Advanced on four out of seven End-of-Instructions Tests (EOIs). The tests cover the subject matters of Algebra I, English II, Algebra II, Biology I, English III, Geometry, and United States History. All students are required to pass the Algebra I and English II tests, as well as any two of the remaining five. Some exceptions can be made for students from out-of-state, students with an individualized education program (IEP), and other special circumstances. The EOI requirement was created under a 2005 Oklahoma law, and it went into effect beginning with students entering ninth grade in the 2008-2009 school year.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“Some of us still feel like we are not done, but we know that we have started a movement that will continue past the end (of the walkout), whenever that is.”

-Greg Oppel, a social studies teacher at Edmond Memorial High School, reflecting on the teacher walkout and the movement it has spurred [NewsOK]

Editorial of the Week

Brad Luna, Tulsa World

Gov. Mary Fallin said during a recent interview, “It’s important to get back in the classroom and to teach our children.” When asked what was happening to the students during the walkout, Fallin declared, “They’re just out of school.” Fallin’s remarks fail to recognize a powerful civics lesson happening at this very moment. At the state Capitol and in communities — rural and urban — young people are seeing our participatory democracy in action. Given the current status of civic engagement in our country, this might be the most valuable lesson our state’s educators could be teaching.

Numbers of the Day

  • 4.8% – Average annual growth in Oklahoma Medicaid spending 2010-2014.
  • ? – The amount of state revenues lost due to corporations taking the capital gains deduction. This tax incentive costs Oklahoma more than $100 million on personal income tax deductions, but the Oklahoma Tax Commission provides no public data about its use in corporate income tax filings.
  • 62.3% – Share of Oklahoma Medicaid (SoonerCare) spending paid by the federal government, FY 2016.
  • $2,734 – Average Oklahoma Medicaid (SoonerCare) spending per child enrollee, FY 2014.
  • 59.6 – Evictions per day in Oklahoma in 2016.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys [New York Times]
  • The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant [New York Times]
  • Do states regret expanding Medicaid? [Brookings]
  • Four-day school weeks, a nationwide symptom of tight budgets, lead to more youth crime, study finds [Chalkbeat]
  • Rural health care is expensive, and Washington isn’t helping [Axios]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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