The Weekly Wonk: Debunking a false claim on SQ 779, what cuts to alternative education mean, and more

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.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, Executive Director David Blatt debunked claims that less than half of the revenues from State Question 779 would go to teachers. Our fact sheet on SQ 779 is available here, and our statement on SQ 779 is available here. In a guest post, social worker Teara Firor explained how cuts to alternative education impact student lives. 

A guest post from Elizabeth Smart of the the Yale National Initiative at the University of Tulsa described the broader impacts of K-12 funding cuts. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wrote that State Questions on the ballot next week give Oklahomans a chance to govern ourselves. Blatt’s Journal Record column argued in favor of State Questions 780 and 781. Our fact sheet on those State Questions is available here.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to NewsOK about measures that did – and didn’t – come into effect on November 1 as a result of legislative action. The Ada News referenced OK Policy in a writeup of a local Senate race. The O’Colly cited OK Policy data in an article on an OSU student and a recent OSU graduate facing off in a House race

Oklahoma 2016 State Questions and Elections

Oklahoma’s statewide general election is Tuesday, November 8th! You can learn more about voting logistics here with our 2016 Oklahoma Election Guide. In addition, you can learn more about the seven state questions that will be on the ballot with our 2016 Oklahoma State Question Guide. Una versión en español de las Enmiendas Estatales de Oklahoma 2016 está disponible aquí.

Weekly What’s That

Voter ID Requirements

In 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 746, which established new voter identification requirements. The state question requires voters to present a valid government-issued document that includes their name and picture or a voter identification card issued by their county election board. A person who cannot or does not provide one of those forms of identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Could it take four days for us to respond instead of three? Yes. Could it take five days instead of three? Yes. Could people be concerned that Adult Protective Services wasn’t there on day one? Yes.”

– Gail Wettstein, director of Adult Protective Services for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, speaking about state budget cuts that have forced the agency to cut staff and reduce their physical presence to just 50 of the state’s 77 counties (Source).

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, Tulsa World

It’s not coincidental that the state also incarcerates a higher portion of its adult population than any state other than Louisiana, and that the state only has one psychiatrist for every 14,615 people. The Tulsa Area Mental Health Plan Steering Committee — a collaborative effort of philanthropic, business, nonprofit and academic communities — is determined to do something about all of that. The mental health effort is modeled after early successes in efforts to address a 14-year life expectancy differential that a 2005 study found between ZIP codes in north and south Tulsa. A 10-year effort focused public and private spending on improved access to health care in north Tulsa, and a 2015 Tulsa County Health Department study showed the differential had dropped to 11 years, arguably the nation’s first demonstrated improvement in an urban health disparity. Dedicated efforts that marshal all the resources available can make a difference.

Numbers of the Day

  • 16.4% – Percentage of people entering Oklahoma prisons in 2013 whose most serious offense was possession of a controlled substance
  • 0.64% – Percent of Oklahoma adults who identify as transgender, the 8th highest rate in the nation
  • 2,157,450 – Total number of registered voters in Oklahoma as of November 1, 2016, which is about 73% of the total population age 18 and over in the state
  • 76% – Percent of out of state students who completed teaching preparation programs in Oklahoma from 2009–10 to 2013–14 but did not go on to work in Oklahoma schools
  • 2,110,000 – Number of hogs in Oklahoma, Dec. 2015

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Five reasons teacher residencies often outperform traditional training [Hechinger Report]
  • A Mistake That Lasts a Lifetime [Democracy Journal]
  • Most Parents Work 9 to 5. Why Do Most Schools Still End Around 3? [Slate]
  • Scarcity Of Mental Health Care Means Patients — Especially Kids — Land In ER [Kaiser Health News]
  • Can Ranked Voting Save the Electoral Process? [New America]


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.

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