• OU student: On a mission to change world through teaching

    By Madison Johnson | Published: Wed, Jan 13, 2016

    When I was a high school student, friends, family and teachers would always ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a 15-year-old freshman, I'd had no idea. I was new to the Tulsa Engineering Academy at Memorial High School, and was taking higher math, science and engineering courses. I even participated on a FIRST Robotics team that competed in the world championship — eight years in a row. I dreamed of a future career in which I could make an impact, but like most of my classmates, becoming a teacher didn't occur to me. Then everything changed. One semester into my high school career, I picked up my spring schedule to find that I had a free period, an uncommon privilege for a freshman.

  • Michael Gerson: Harsh judgment of Obama from his inner circle

    MICHAEL GERSON Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Wed, Jan 13, 2016

    WASHINGTON — In the eighth year of a presidency, who is qualified to begin delivering a historical judgment? President Obama and those who serve at his pleasure are naturally biased. His critics are too engaged in the battles of the moment. Journalists and commentators tend to go after darting, shiny, plastic lures of narrative. But events are still too fresh and wriggling for historians to do their mortuary work. A more promising source of assessment is the opinions of high-level officials who actually participated in recent events. Here, there is already a small library of reluctant but harsh judgments. The most recent comes from Chuck Hagel.

  • E.J. Dionne: Rubio's strategically gloomy detour

    E.J. DIONNE JR. Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Wed, Jan 13, 2016

    BEDFORD, N.H. — This year's Republican presidential campaign is where hope and optimism go to die. Don't pretend that Donald Trump is an exotic outlier. His spirit haunts a party that can't get enough of gloom and fear. Among the GOP candidates, no one started out more optimistic about the United States than Marco Rubio. The Florida senator's campaign slogan still promises "A New American Century." He smiles broadly from the cover of his upbeat 2015 book, "American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone." You can almost hear the cheerful guy in the bright red tie saying, "Yes we can." The conservative writer Mitchell Blatt sensed this when he called Rubio "the Republican Barack Obama." He meant it as a

  • When fair game is a foul play

    KATHLEEN PARKER Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Tue, Jan 12, 2016

    WASHINGTON — Fair play can sometimes be a raunchy racket. In the midst of Hillary Clinton's promising presidential bid, a blast from the past blew through the back door and rattled the joints of the political edifice of Clinton. Juanita Broaddrick, the Arkansas woman who has claimed that in 1978 then-state Attorney General Bill Clinton raped her, said that Hillary Clinton is "not the one" to talk about violence against women and tweeted that she is an "enabler." As a heckler promptly inserted herself into a Clinton rally, Donald Trump wasted no time posting a heat-seeking ad on Instagram linking her to a gallery of famous sexual predators and deviants, including alleged rapist Bill Cosby, sexter Anthony Weiner and, of

  • Careers conversation has to change in Oklahoma

    By Ben Robinson | Published: Sun, Jan 10, 2016

    Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said on “60 Minutes” that skilled workers, not lower salaries, were the lure that brought Apple to China. China “puts an enormous focus on manufacturing. In what we would call … vocational kind of skills,” Cook said. That focus paid off. The CEO said, “You can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we're currently sitting in.” What would it have taken for the United States to have technically skilled workers available for Apple? A great deal. We are dreadfully short of technically skilled workers across the country and here in Oklahoma. The state's aerospace industry is feeling that shortage.

  • Michael Gerson: What if the worst happens?

    MICHAEL GERSON Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Sun, Jan 10, 2016

    WASHINGTON — Every Republican of the type concerned with winning in November has been asking the question (at least internally), "What if the worst happens?" The worst does not mean the nomination of Ted Cruz, in spite of justified fears of political disaster. Cruz is an ideologue with a message perfectly tuned for a relatively small minority of the electorate. Uniquely in American politics, he has made his reputation by being roundly hated by his colleagues — apparently a prerequisite for a certain kind of anti-establishment conservative, but unpromising for an image makeover at his convention. Cruz's nomination would represent the victory of the hard right — religious right and tea party factions — within the

  • George Will: A chance to mend First Amendment rights

    GEORGE F. WILL Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Sun, Jan 10, 2016

    WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court contemplates changing its mind, it must weigh the institutional interest in the law's continuity against evidence that a prior decision has done an injury, even a constitutional injury. The court took 58 years to begin, with the 1954 school desegregation decision, undoing its 1896 decision affirming the constitutionality of "separate but equal" public facilities and services. On Monday, oral arguments at the court will indicate whether it is ready to undo 39 years of damage to the First Amendment rights of millions of government employees.

  • We need to continue conversation on race

    By Gene A. Budig and Alan Heaps | Published: Sat, Jan 9, 2016

    When we look back at 2015, we can hope it was the year when Americans once again seriously re-engaged with issues of race. For too long, many have swept this important but sensitive issue under the rug. There is some good news on this front: Americans are changing their opinions on whether the nation offers equal opportunities to blacks and whites. A growing number acknowledge that paths to success are not color blind. In 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that 59 percent of Americans said our “nation needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights.” In 2014, it was 46 percent. A Gallup poll confirms the shift. This year, when asked “Do you think racism against blacks is or is not widespread in

  • Antidote for a troubling trend in Oklahoma

    By Darrell Weaver | Published: Sat, Jan 9, 2016

    As director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, I was asked many times what the solution was for the high rates of incarceration in Oklahoma. We have all heard the numbers: Oklahoma is ranked first in the nation in female incarceration and third in male incarceration per capita. Even more alarming, there are 50,000 children in Oklahoma who have an incarcerated parent and it's estimated that 70 percent of those children will go to prison themselves, which equals 35,000 future inmates. It costs approximately $16,000 per year to imprison one adult, not to mention the loss of human capital. An antidote for this troubling trend is a robust mentoring program for vulnerable youth.

  • Jules Witcover: Soon the real voting begins

    Jules Witcover Tribune Content Agency | Published: Sat, Jan 9, 2016

    WASHINGTON — After more than a year of poll-gazing of all varieties, the real 2016 presidential campaign year has arrived, with Donald Trump still far ahead in the Republican nomination race and the surviving contenders still at a loss on how to bring him down. Some, including Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie, have finally thrown caution to the winds with personal assaults and/or television ads trying to out-Trump the loudest mouth in today's politics. It has been no contest so far and may well remain so. Trump, the most odious celebrity candidate yet to inflict his charms on the electorate, after months of stirring the public's anger against politicians and politics itself, still feeds off the same anger while

  • Clarence Page: How Trump made TV his best precinct captain

    Clarence Page Tribune Content Agency | Published: Fri, Jan 8, 2016

    Remember how Republican Sen. Marco Rubio called mainstream media "the ultimate super PAC" for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats? If so, his opponent Donald Trump's favorite precinct captain must be television. In the first major poll of the new year released by NBC News and Survey Monkey, Trump maintains his lead among the Grand Old Party's contenders with 35 percent support, way ahead of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in second place with 18 percent and 13 percent for Rubio in third. Regardless of what happens after actual votes are cast, Trump's surprising success was the past year's biggest political story. We know he has struck a chord with white men, in particular, who have a high school diploma or less and have been buffeted the

  • Carl Edwards: Ending homelessness in OKC saves lives, tax dollars

    By Carl Edwards | Published: Fri, Jan 8, 2016

    As Oklahoma faces a potential $1 billion deficit, we can no longer afford to keep spending $28.7 million each year to keep our neighbors not in homes, but rather homeless on the streets of Oklahoma City. That's nearly $30 million spent annually on people who are still homeless, and often suffering from untreated mental illnesses, according to a 2010 report by Spangler and Associates, Inc. The $28.7 million includes $9.5 million in shelter costs, $7.8 million in medical, mental health and substance abuse bills (emergency room, outpatient and inpatient beds), and $2.5 million for law enforcement and first-responder costs (EMS, fire department, police calls, arrests and jail costs).

  • Charles Krauthammer: Defy America, pay no price

    CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Fri, Jan 8, 2016

    WASHINGTON — If you're going to engage in a foreign policy capitulation, might as well do it when everyone is getting tanked and otherwise occupied. Say, New Year's Eve. Here's the story. In October, Iran test-fires a nuclear-capable ballistic missile in brazen violation of unanimous Security Council resolutions. President Obama does nothing. One month later, Iran does it again. The administration makes a few gestures at the U.N. Then nothing. Then finally, on Dec. 30, the White House announces a few sanctions. They are weak, aimed mostly at individuals and designed essentially for show. Amazingly, even that proves too much. By 10 that night, the administration caves.

  • George Will: The criminalization of politics

    GEORGE F. WILL Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Thu, Jan 7, 2016

    "Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent." — Louis Brandeis WASHINGTON — The impulse to ferret corruption from politics corrupts the criminal justice system when it causes overzealous prosecutors and judges to improvise novel interpretations of the law of bribery. Consider Robert McDonnell's case. Virginia's former Republican governor has been sentenced to prison for actions that he could not have reasonably anticipated would be declared felonies under a dangerous judicial expansion of federal law defining bribery of public officials. Friday the Supreme Court will decide whether to review McDonnell's conviction.

  • Washington Examiner: President's gun move unlikely to accomplish much

    Washington Examiner editorial | Published: Thu, Jan 7, 2016

    PRESIDENT Obama's announcement of new executive actions on firearms triggered a sudden surge in gun sales and a massive two-day rally for the stocks of gun manufacturers while most other stocks swooned. Beyond that, his high-profile action looks unlikely to accomplish anything. Indeed, the word "action" is probably an overstatement in describing it. The NRA reaction was especially telling. In his official statement, the director of the organization's lobbying arm criticized Obama for condescension and "distracting attention" from his record on terrorism. But as for the proposals themselves, he merely called them "ripe for abuse" without singling out any of them. That's probably because they were too insubstantial to

  • Ruth Marcus: Bluster of The Donald

    RUTH MARCUS Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Wed, Jan 6, 2016

    WASHINGTON — The emperor has no clothes. The Donald has no policy. This is not exactly news, but it is too often forgotten in the substance-free carnival that is the 2016 presidential race. Donald Trump's bright-shiny-object campaign style serves to obscure the substantive void, leaving reporters endlessly chasing after his latest rhetorical bomb rather than pressing him on policy. Not, of course, that such questioning produces answers. Trump evades questions about how he would approach a particular problem with airy assurances about management and deal-making. There's only so much follow-up that can be done in the face of this bombast.

  • Cal Thomas: Roots and identity

    Cal Thomas Tribune Content Agency | Published: Wed, Jan 6, 2016

    Ever since the miniseries "Roots" was shown on ABC in 1977, Americans have demonstrated a keen interest in finding out more about where they came from and the names and circumstances of their ancestors. Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is fulfilling that longing in the latest installment of the PBS series "Finding Your Roots." Next to "Downton Abbey," which is again drawing large audiences in its sixth and final season, Gates' program (it premiered Jan. 5) is the best and most compelling television you will ever see. The greatest contribution of this show is that it helps viewers see beyond externals — such as race and politics — and into the hearts and minds of the guests where their real selves

  • OU professor: Effective teachers make an incredible difference

    By Lawrence Baines | Published: Wed, Jan 6, 2016

    Recent articles about teacher pay and teacher quality have been confusing. To help clarify the issues, I offer three facts and a true story: • Oklahoma is in the bottom five nationally in terms of teacher pay. In Houston, the minimum salary for a new teacher is $51,500; in Oklahoma City, starting pay is $34,000. An Oklahoma teacher can improve her salary by 50 percent by moving to Houston. Teacher salaries are accessible online, so there is no disguising differences. • In Texas, where 50 percent of teachers are alternatively certified, test scores have been falling for years. According to the College Board, the performance of Texas students on the SAT fell all the way to 47th (of 50 states) in 2015. Texas' teacher

  • George Will: Before government became reviled

    GEORGE F. WILL Washington Post Writers Group | Published: Sun, Jan 3, 2016

    WASHINGTON — Soon, voters will have the opportunity and impertinence to insert themselves into the 2016 presidential conversation that thus far has been the preoccupation of journalists and other abnormal people. The voting will begin in Iowa, thanks to Marie Jahn. When, after 38 years as recorder for Plymouth County in northwest Iowa, Jahn decided to retire in February 1975, local Democrats decided to throw her a party. When it came to attracting a speaker, the best they could entice from their party's national ranks was a former one-term governor of Georgia.

  • Point of View: A windshield agriculture survey for the coming year

    By Terry Detrick | Published: Sun, Jan 3, 2016

    With 2015 in the rear-view window, we look expectantly at the next 12 months, and from where I sit, agriculture will have some challenges and opportunities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates net farm income for 2015 to be $55.9 billion, down 38 percent from 2014. The main culprit is lower commodity prices. As we begin 2016, the forecast for continued lower farm income continues to make headlines. The reason prices are lower is because we had more commodities to sell! Abundant rainfall allowed for bin-busting yields and flourishing grass pastures, proving the law of supply and demand rules. The challenge is to take advantage of the full grain bins. Farmers are producers. We cannot sell something we don't have.