KIDS COUNT Reports

Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit is a must this session

In Oklahoma’s tax code, there are multiple tax breaks for high-income individuals and businesses. But just three tax credits are targeted at low-income Oklahomans, and one of those -  the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – was slashed in 2016 to help balance the books during a severe budget crisis. This cut resulted in more than 200,000 Oklahoma families losing some, or all, of the value of their EITC. Statewide, low and middle-income working families lost nearly $28 million due to the cut. That’s an average of $121 per family, and many low-wage families lost even more. [More...]

Money matters for child development. Healthier finances means a healthier future for children in Oklahoma.

Policies that support low-income families improve the well-being of children. Policymakers have a number of options for improving economic prospects for Oklahoma’s working families and in turn improving health - including their mental health. Two practical changes are to restore the refundability of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increase the minimum wage. Both of these policy changes would provide more economic stability for families, reducing the risk of childhood trauma and poor mental health outcomes that stem from these adverse experiences. Improving the financial well-being of families creates healthier and economically thriving communities. [More...]

Report: Despite gains from teacher walkout, Oklahoma school funding is still way down

For the past five years Oklahoma has led the nation for the largest per-pupil cuts to education funding since the Great Recession, according to an annual report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). This year's report, released today, finds that Oklahoma has finally moved out of the bottom spot in per pupil formula funding cuts thanks to last year’s teacher pay raise funded by the Legislature on the eve of the statewide teacher walkout. However, despite these gains, Oklahoma remains well below pre-Recession levels in per-pupil funding and still has cut more than any state other than Texas. [More...]

The School Counselor Corps would be a lifeline for students. Ask the Legislature to fund it

Oklahoma schools desperately need more school counselors. Oklahoma has 435 students for every counselor, nearly double the recommended ratio of 250 students per counselor. To help address this problem, the State Department of Education has asked the Legislature for $58 million dollars to fund a School Counselor Corps, which would allow districts to hire additional school counselors and licensed therapists. Both types of professionals are critical. Children in Oklahoma experience trauma at higher rates than their peers in most other states. This trauma can lead to academic struggles along with a host of negative mental and physical health outcomes. Providing students proper supports is the key to counteracting these realities.  [More...]

Increasing the scholarship tax credit hurts public schools and benefits affluent Oklahomans

Correction 4/1/19: This post has been updated to correct information about the income eligibility for scholarship recipients.  In 2011, the Legislature passed the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, which grants tax credits to individuals or corporations who make a… Read more [More...]

Support staff pay raise and restoring cuts is key to improving Oklahoma’s schools

[Image Source: U.S. Department of Education / Flickr] Oklahoma schools don't have enough support staff to meet needs, and their salaries are far too low averaging just $21,583 a year. While HB 1010xx gave support professionals a $1,250 pay raise, it was well short of the $5,000 they asked for. This session, education support professionals must be a bigger part of our conversations about how to better serve Oklahoma's schools. [More...]

Hurry Up and Wait: For thousands of families, critical services can be a decade away (Guest Post: Erin Taylor)

There is a certain amount of hustle commonly involved in raising a child with a developmental disability.  As parents, we’re managing special education plans, medical appointments, and specialty therapies. But there is one experience where endurance, and not hustle, is called for: The Waiting List. [More...]

SB 11: Delaying Pre-K would be a step back for Oklahoma’s children

[Image Source: U.S. Department of Education / Flickr] SB 11 would move cutoff dates for children entering pre-K from September 1 to July 1. Oklahoma would be the only state to have a cutoff before July 31st. The change would delay pre-K eligibility by a year for children who are two months shy of the new cutoff date. SB 11 would particularly hurt low-income families and children of color who benefit most from pre-K programs. [More...]

New economic rankings show Oklahoma falling further behind

There are quite a few reasons to be optimistic about Oklahoma this year. Unemployment is low and the state expects to have a budget surplus this year, the first in quite some time. But despite this good news, too many Oklahomans are still struggling to make ends meet and build a better future for themselves and their families. For the third straight year, Oklahoma has dropped in the Prosperity Now Scorecard rankings. This year, we rank 43rd in the financial health and overall well-being of our residents - that's down from 34th in 2016. [More...]

2019 Priority: Increase PK-12 state aid funding to restore school staffing and programs

Download this fact sheet as a printable pdf here. Read about the rest of OK Policy’s 2019 Legislative Policy Priorities here. The revenue measures passed in April 2018 as HB1010xx were a historic win for educators, funding an average $6,100… Read more [More...]