The Weekly Wonk: Why Oklahoma teachers need a raise, the school districts with the most and least state aid, 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 on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Director Gene Perry explained, in two charts, why Oklahoma teachers need a raise. Perry also created detailed maps showing how much per pupil funding Oklahoma school districts receive, and why.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that short-sighted cuts to alternative education will create long-term costs. Blatt previously discussed the topic in a blog post. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update described how Oklahoma’s long journey to child welfare reform is getting longer

Upcoming Opportunities

OK Policy in the News

The Enid News discussed Perry’s per pupil funding blog post. KFOR summarized our post (here) on new Census Bureau data on poverty and the uninsured. Blatt spoke to NewsOK regarding energy tax policy. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler spoke to Take Part on the history of criminal justice reform in Oklahoma. NonDoc pointed voters to our 2016 State Questions information

Weekly What’s That

Ballot Title

Every State Question, or ballot measure, in Oklahoma must include a ballot title that will appear on every voter’s ballot. Oklahoma law (Title 34, Section 9) specifies that the ballot title must fairly and accurately describe the measure in 200 words or less. In addition, it must be free of jargon, be written at an eighth grade reading level, and clearly represent the effect of a “yes” vote and a “no” vote. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I’m pushing for not only a march or a meeting, I’m pushing for a seat at the table where we can affect change in the policies and the culture of the police versus the community.”

-Rodney Goss, a pastor at the Morning Star Baptist Church in north Tulsa, speaking about the African-American community’s response to the police shooting of Terence Crutcher (Source).

Editorial of the Week

Governor Fallin, The Washington Times

Oklahoma’s drug laws haven’t deterred substance abuse. Though well intentioned, they have often sent nonviolent offenders to prison for years, where they live alongside violent offenders whose bad influences can make them better criminals rather than better citizens. Obviously, this is bad news for our entire state, for when these people get out of prison, they will likely return to crime. And that’s not making us safer.

It’s imperative that we modernize our justice system to change this dynamic and provide meaningful help to break the cycle of addiction that is tearing families apart. We can do this without jeopardizing public safety.

Numbers of the Day

  • 13.9 percent – Oklahoma’s uninsured rate in 2015, third highest in the U.S. behind only Texas and Alaska.
  • 502 – Number of opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma in 2014.
  • 12th – Oklahoma’s ranking for the percentage of funding of PreK-12 public schools that comes from the federal government (11.4%).
  • $7,711 – How much Oklahoma’s average teacher salary dropped between the 2009-2010 and 2015-2016 school years, adjusted for inflation.
  • 1,827 – Number of Oklahoma public school students with disabilities who were subject to corporal punishment 2011-2012, 1,528 of whom were male

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Moms are filling American jails [Washington Post]
  • How Expanding Medicaid Can Lower Insurance Premiums for All [New York Times]
  • The Underestimation of America’s Preschool Teachers [The Atlantic]
  • How ranked-choice voting could make voters more open to third-party candidates [PBS]
  • More grandparents are raising grandchildren. Here’s how to help them: [Hechinger Report]


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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