• Michael Gerson: Republicans stoke the fire of bigotry

    MICHAEL GERSON The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Wed, Sep 23, 2015

    WASHINGTON — What is the proper response from a prospective president to the question: Is being a Muslim disqualifying for the presidency? Ben Carson answered that he "would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation" because Islam is incompatible with the Constitution. The Constitution offers a different reply: "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

  • Economist: Largest districts offer chance to find savings

    BY BYRON SCHLOMACH | Published: Wed, Sep 23, 2015

    Knowledge is power and liberation, but knowledge is always in short supply especially in Oklahoma's education funding formula. One common myth is that consolidating small school districts in the state would greatly improve the overall school finances, however this couldn't be further from the truth. The state doesn't make it easy to assemble data from its 545 school districts and charter schools to make comparisons, but after taking the time to do this, here are a few insights. Oklahoma has a lot of small school districts — often by geographic necessity. Including charter schools, which are funded via a formula similar to regular school districts, there are more than 300 districts with fewer than 500 students each.

  • Cal Thomas: Carly Fiorina is a major leaguer

    Cal Thomas Tribune Content Agency | Published: Tue, Sep 22, 2015

    To invoke a baseball metaphor, Carly Fiorina has been called up from the minors to the major leagues. After her widely praised debate performance last week, she can expect "fastballs" to be thrown at her head, not only by some of her Republican opponents, but by Democrats. It has already started. The first pitch at Fiorina is the number of jobs lost during her tenure as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. While some say she is technically correct that the company's income grew while she ran it, thousands of people lost their jobs, as did many others during the 1990s economic downturn in the technology industry.

  • Washington Examiner: Democrats' debate schedule leaves much to be desired

    Washington Examiner editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 21, 2015

    REPUBLICANS have scheduled 10 presidential primary debates ahead of next year's elections. Democrats, on the other hand, have limited the number of debates between their party's candidates to just six. This has put the Democratic National Committee in a bit of a bind. Its leaders want to have fewer debates, so that the odds are enhanced of reaching the preordained outcome — a victory by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. To that end, they have not only scheduled fewer debates, but they have scheduled them mostly outside of the primary season and on days when people are unlikely to watch. Yes, Clinton will have to face her competition, but it will happen when most Americans will be watching college football (on

  • Okla. State University professor: Concerning report on U.S. economic freedom

    BY PER L. BYLUND | Published: Sun, Sep 20, 2015

    The latest “Economic Freedom of the World: 2015 Annual Report” is out and the results are concerning. The United States has plunged to 16th in this annual ranking of countries by their degree of economic freedom. As recently as 2000, we held the No. 2 slot and now we've fallen below countries like Canada and the United Kingdom. The importance of economic freedom to our overall well-being must not be undervalued. Defined as the degree to which individuals, families and businesses are free to make decisions and sculpt their lives without government interference, economic freedom is increasingly being eroded by numerous regulations, exploding government spending, high taxes, and disregard for rule of law and property rights.

  • Ruth Marcus: No celebration of constitutional principles

    RUTH MARCUS The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Sun, Sep 20, 2015

    WASHINGTON — It was a coincidence, but a jarring one, that the second Republican presidential debate took place the day before Constitution Day. The GOP candidates' remarks betrayed the need for a remedial course — or maybe any course at all — in constitutional law, judicial independence and the rule of law. That the presidential candidates, like other conservatives, are frustrated with the Supreme Court is hardly surprising. Last term, the court recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage (thanks to one Republican nominee, Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan) and turned back a deadly challenge to Obamacare (thanks to Kennedy and, for a second time on the health care law, Chief Justice John Roberts,

  • George Will: The fact-free flamboyance of Pope Francis

    GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Sun, Sep 20, 2015

    WASHINGTON — Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert's indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill. Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: "People occasionally forgive, but nature never does." The Vatican's majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this.

  • Jules Witcover: Catching more flak, Trump stays on course

    Jules Witcover Tribune Content Agency | Published: Sat, Sep 19, 2015

    WASHINGTON — Like water off a duck's back, the slings and arrows against Donald Trump rolled off him in the second Republican presidential debate, as his foes tried to dent his amazing immunity to justified criticisms of his personal crassness. In the process, his rivals' frustration shone through as they themselves struggled to remain viable in the campaign for their party's 2016 nomination. As a group, led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, they did their best to put the new frontrunner on the defensive while articulating their own policy positions, up to now lost in the Trump phenomenon.

  • Norman schools supterintendent: ACT initiative is just what Oklahoma needs

    BY JOE SIANO | Published: Sat, Sep 19, 2015

    Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister's recent ACT initiative is exactly the kind of progress Oklahoma's public education sector needs. Unlike some other required assessments, ACT provides meaningful information for educators, students and parents. All U.S. colleges and universities accept the exam. However, some students cannot afford the cost or have transportation challenges. Every student deserves an equal right to take the test, regardless of their financial situation. Hofmeister should be applauded for focusing on students, rather than politics, and finding a creative solution. While this effort has been linked to teacher pay, that is a separate issue worthy of its own discussion.

  • OKC dentists: New rule would punish small-business workers

    BY COLIN HOLMAN AND NATALIE FRAZIER | Published: Sat, Sep 19, 2015

    We are co-owners of a small business with nine hardworking employees, providing dental care to adults, children and families. In this business, nothing is more important than “human capital.” By this we mean in order to best serve our patients and make them comfortable, we strive to create a family atmosphere, and make our employees feel secure enough to stay with us year after year. To do this, we need to offer more than just competitive salaries. We need to offer excellent benefits. This is so important that, despite our company's relatively small size, we went through the expense of organizing a 401(k) plan. From our viewpoint, this is not only good for our staff's retirement security; it's also an investment in our

  • Charles Krauthammer: Putin's gambit, Obama's puzzlement

    CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

    WASHINGTON — Once again, President Obama and his foreign policy team are stumped. Why is Vladimir Putin pouring troops and weaponry into Syria? After all, as Secretary of State John Kerry has thrice told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, it is only making things worse. But worse for whom? For the additional thousands of civilians who will die or flee as a result of the inevitably intensified fighting. True, and I'm sure Lavrov is as moved by their plight as by the 8,000 killed in Russia's splendid little Ukrainian adventure. Kerry and Obama are serially surprised because they cannot fathom the hard men in the Kremlin. Yet Putin's objectives in Syria are blindingly obvious: 1.

  • Stand for Children official: School principals vital to 'pipeline to success'

    BY MATT LATHAM | Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

    Tuesday evenings at Cesar Chavez Elementary, parents attending our first-ever Stand University for Parents (STAND Up) are greeted by a familiar face, Principal Laura Morris. Morris always has a ready smile and tells parents how proud she is of their commitment to their child's success. As I watch her work well beyond 7 p.m., juggling logistics, questions from parents and supporting teachers, I marvel at how she does it. She's an incredible leader whose commitment to Cesar Chavez students is undeniable and her impact on student learning can't be overstated.

  • USAF general: Celebrating 68 years of accomplishment

    BY GEN. ELLEN PAWLIKOWSKI | Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

    This week, we celebrate the 68th birthday of the U.S. Air Force — 68 years of amazing technological advances, courageous human endeavors and an ever-evolving capability that protects our freedoms. From breaking the sound barrier to fielding stealth aircraft that are invisible to our adversaries, the Air Force has always been at the forefront of our national defense. Our Air Force has evolved since 1947. Today, we patrol the domains of not just the air, but space and cyberspace, too. We're fielding the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-35, while researching and developing ways to increase agility, flexibility, precision, lethality and persistence for our missions of the future.

  • E.J. Dionne: When justice meets vanity

    E.J. DIONNE JR. The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Fri, Sep 18, 2015

    WASHINGTON — To steady ourselves amidst the clamor of competing certainties about the meaning of Wednesday's Republican presidential debate, let us pause for a daily Scripture reading. The first is from the opening verses of Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity." Next, the book of Amos: "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." And the third, from the Gospel of Matthew: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." If you doubt the relevance of Scripture to our times, consider the contrast on Monday between what Donald Trump was up to and what Bernie Sanders did. Trump gave a speech that

  • George Will: A mission to reform lives behind bars

    GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Thu, Sep 17, 2015

    CLEVELAND — About a mile from where the Cleveland Indians test their fans' patience, there is a facility that expresses Ohio's attempt to temper justice with patience. The facility resembles a school, except for the razor wire. This prison contains 619 women, one of whom, Jessica Torok, mother of three sons — in the third year of her four-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamines — says: "I've changed things I didn't even know needed changed," so "now I can go home and be the mother I should have been." Until she goes home she will "live the Army values." Here, she says proudly, "we live military style." Women who volunteer for the military unit live in a dorm whose halls are decorated with the U.S. armed

  • Michael Gerson: Iran thumbs its nose at the U.S.

    MICHAEL GERSON The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    WASHINGTON — Since the Iran nuclear deal was announced in mid-July, the world has been treated to an unusual historical spectacle. As President Obama was busy twisting congressional arms to prevent repudiation of the agreement, the Iranian regime has been systematically humiliating him. Almost immediately, bulldozers began sanitizing the Parchin nuclear complex, where Iran is suspected to have researched the weaponization of nuclear technology — a final taunt to mark the erasure of America's "red line" demand that Iran account for the "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear program. Iran's military and Revolutionary Guard leaders still publicly dispute there will be any inspections of military facilities.

  • James Halligan: State savings plan is a smart move for Oklahoma parents

    BY SEN. JAMES HALLIGAN | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    With another new school year now firmly underway for thousands of Oklahoma students, many parents will find themselves asking this question: How will we pay for our child's college education? It is a question that is especially relevant during the month of September, Oklahoma College Savings Month. Statistics show that a majority of Oklahoma parents do not have enough money saved for their children's education. Such a situation lays the burden of college costs squarely on the shoulders of the student, and oftentimes that manifests in the form of student loans. While student loans open the door for many to achieve their college dreams, the burden of student loan debt can have far-reaching implications.

  • Clarence Page: Why GOP still fails with minority voters

    Clarence Page Tribune Content Agency | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    Donald Trump recently tweeted his gratitude for a huge surge — Hyooj! Hyooj! — in his black and Hispanic support that, it turned out, did not quite exist. "A great honor to receive polling numbers like these," Trump tweeted on Sept. 8. "Record setting African-American (25 percent) and Hispanic numbers (31 percent)." Excuse me? Trump is winning almost a third of the Hispanic vote after calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists in his announcement speech? That sounds too strange to be true — and probably isn't. Published by a website called The American Mirror, the SurveyUSA poll was conducted by Gravis Marketing on behalf of "One American News Network," an apparent attempt to compete with Fox News.

  • Oklahoma chamber official: Road, bridge spending pays off

    BY MIKE JACKSON | Published: Wed, Sep 16, 2015

    Growing up in a small town in Oklahoma, I quickly learned the benefit of a good road system. Traveling to the nearest grocery store or riding the bus to school involved a lengthy commute, but thanks to safe, well-maintained roads and bridges, life kept moving forward in Burlington. Living in Enid and Oklahoma City, the quality of our roads and bridges is just as essential in urban areas. Failure to invest in our infrastructure creates a hidden tax felt by all drivers: every family, every worker and every business in the state. A recent report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, estimates that the amount spent by the average driver on car maintenance increased 45 percent in just three years.

  • George Will: Redeeming the remainder of a life

    GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Sun, Sep 13, 2015

    GRAFTON, Ohio — The man at the front of the room in the prison here is talking about the institution's culinary and hospitality training that will help some of his fellow inmates "give back to the community." He will never get back to any community; he is serving a "double life" sentence. But because he is not going anywhere, he can provide leadership to those who are. Some will go to the 35 Cleveland restaurants that are eager to help themselves, and reduce recidivism while doing so, by hiring those who learn in prison to serve the food plate from the left and to remove it from the right. Small things learned inside can help people stay outside.