• Survey shows disconnect between OKC school district and its teachers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 4, 2015

    WHEN people are asked their opinions and guaranteed anonymity, when they know their answers won't come back to bite them, they tend to say exactly what's on their mind. Thus, what Oklahoma City public school teachers said on a recent survey should be of considerable concern to district administrators. The Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, the union that bargains on behalf of 2,800 local teachers, conducted an anonymous survey over a 10-day span in October. The union received responses from 836 teachers. The overarching message: Current disciplinary efforts instituted by the district aren't working.

  • Reading scores show Oklahoma retention policy working

    The Oklahoma Editorial | Published: Tue, Nov 3, 2015

    WE'VE had reason to criticize the state of education in Oklahoma, so it's a pleasure when we can highlight improvement. That's the case with the recent release of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading scores, which showed Oklahoma experienced the third-largest gain nationally in fourth-grade reading scores. We only hope lawmakers will now protect the reforms that made this improvement possible. In 2011, at the prompting of Gov. Mary Fallin and then-state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, the Legislature passed a law requiring students to repeat the third grade if they read at a first-grade level or lower. Status-quo forces vocally opposed the retention law, which took full effect for students taking tests

  • Support keeps growing for liquor law changes in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Nov 2, 2015

    IF public opinion truly matters in the political arena, then Oklahomans will have the opportunity next year to reform the state's highly restrictive, and occasionally bizarre, liquor laws. A new poll conducted by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates Inc. on behalf of The Oklahoman finds 63 percent of registered voters (an all-time high) want to liberalize Oklahoma's liquor laws while just 29 percent oppose change. Majorities in all age groups endorsed liquor law reform, although support was strongest among younger voters and opposition greatest among those age 75 and older. Majorities of Democratic and Republican primary voters favored changing liquor laws. This is a rare issue where people on all ends of the political

  • Now on the books in Oklahoma, anti-texting law has potential to save lives

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 1, 2015

    THE Legislature this year passed a raft of laws that take effect Sunday. None may be more important than House Bill 1965, which bans text-messaging while driving. It took six years of work by supporters, but this year they finally succeeded in getting members to see the merits of this law. Sadly, the real eye-opener for lawmakers was an accident in January that killed one Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and injured another. Troopers Nic Dees and Keith Burch were investigating an accident on Interstate 40 east of Shawnee when they were struck by a vehicle. The driver was using a mobile device at the time. Dees was killed. Burch suffered serious injuries. Three weeks later, the state House of Representatives

  • Oklahoma, OKC are facing difficult budget reality

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Nov 1, 2015

    THE energy industry is a major driver of Oklahoma's economy. Thus, any downturn in the industry has outsized impact in Oklahoma, as was reinforced in recent days. Two announcements illustrate how low oil prices are affecting state and local governments. First, Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order requiring state agencies to prepare to reduce nonessential expenses by 10 percent for both the remainder of this fiscal year and for the entire 2017 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The order was issued in anticipation of pending budget cuts. The state is expected to face a shortfall of as much as $1 billion next year, and it's possible that cuts may be required during the current budget year if collections fail to keep

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: State's pension gains must be defended

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Oct 31, 2015

    BUDGET shortfalls generally prompt politicians to grab money wherever they can, regardless of the consequences. With the Legislature expected to face a major shortfall next year, Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, cautions against raiding pension funds. McDaniel's colleagues should heed his advice. From 2000 to 2010, the state's unfunded pension liability climbed from $6 billion to $16 billion, which left Oklahoma's pension system ranked in the bottom five nationally according to major rating services. Since then, lawmakers have adopted several reforms that have caused the unfunded pension liability to decrease from over $16 billion in 2010, to $9.6 billion last year, to $8.8 billion in 2015. That's truly remarkable:

  • GOP debate was lively, but little new ground broken

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    THE third debate among Republican presidential candidates didn't tell us anything we didn't already know about the nine men and one woman on stage. It did provide a fair amount of fireworks, however, particularly from those trying to make an impact from the fringes of the race. Donald Trump has been at or near the top of the polls all along, and has been joined lately by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. This made them targets not just for the CNBC moderators — some questions drew boos, and rightly so, from the audience in Boulder, Colo. — but also for some of their fellow candidates. Most vocal was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been polling in the low single digits since entering the race in July.

  • OSSAA actions undermine the organization's credibility

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 30, 2015

    EACH year, Oklahoma schools pay millions of dollars for membership in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. What schools appear to receive in return is haphazard and inconsistent oversight of extracurricular activities. The OSSAA has received much scrutiny regarding allegations that its processes are too secretive and that its decisions regarding students' eligibility vary wildly on a case-by-case basis. The latest controversy centers on something far more serious than student eligibility. The OSSAA is charged with determining if a coach ordered his players to assault someone.

  • 'Chicago statement' is a policy U.S. universities should heed

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    THERE are many reasons for the unlikely ascension of Donald Trump and Ben Carson to the top of the GOP presidential polls, but one of the reasons surely is this: their willingness to speak out against political correctness. A Rasmussen survey conducted in late August found that 71 percent of Americans think political correctness is a problem in our country, while only 18 percent say it's not. Perhaps nowhere is the problem more acute than in the realm of higher education, with its freedom- restricting “speech codes” and its various “trigger warnings” designed to protect students from “microaggressions” they may find discomforting. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

  • Improvements needed in tracking Oklahoma DUI cases

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 29, 2015

    STATE Rep. Mike Sanders began taking a closer look at an oddity of Oklahoma's criminal justice system after his wife was struck by a motorist who had been arrested several times for driving under the influence — but hadn't lost his driver's license. In his wife's case, a number of continuances had delayed prosecution. But what Sanders learned upon further exploration was that in many cases, DUIs aren't easily shared among Oklahoma's various municipal courts, and thus prosecutors don't readily know whether a driver might be a repeat offender. At an interim study last week requested by Sanders, R-Kingfisher, Toby Taylor, who heads the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, said there are 354 municipal courts in the state that

  • Renewed hope greets Thunder as NBA season gets underway

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    CHESAPEAKE Energy Arena will be rocking Wednesday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder plays host to rival San Antonio in the NBA season opener for both teams. The fact that Kevin Durant will be in the lineup will make it all the more special. A foot injury kept KD on the bench when the Thunder tipped things off last season. Indeed Durant didn't get on the floor until December, and it wasn't long before problems with the same foot sent him to the sideline again, this time for the remainder of the season. In all, the league's 2013-14 MVP missed 55 games last season. The Thunder went 27-28 without him and ended up missing the playoffs. For the first time since 2009, Oklahoma City fans had no playoff games to attend in May.

  • Prosecution shows need to reform Oklahoma adoption process

    Published: Wed, Oct 28, 2015

    WE wish this wasn't so, but news that a local adoption attorney has allegedly bilked prospective parents out of thousands of dollars comes as no great surprise. That the attorney is being prosecuted is a sign of progress in Oklahoma, but his actions also highlight the need for additional adoption reforms. Attorney Robert Golden Boren is charged with creating a fake company in order to mask his efforts to charge prospective adoptive parents expenses that exceeded the actual living costs of birth mothers. Boren also is accused of overcharging adoptive parents for so-called social services. Prosecutors say those practices allowed Boren to extract more than $110,000 in illegal profit from prospective adoptive couples between 2009 and

  • Oklahoma State again finds itself trying to 'move forward'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 27, 2015

    IN his 7 ½ years as president of Oklahoma State University, Burns Hargis has had to steer his alma mater through two catastrophes — more than any administrator should have to handle. The latest is especially difficult. In 2011, Hargis helped the Cowboy community recover following a small-plane crash in Arkansas that killed women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna, and the pilot and his wife, both alumni and longtime OSU supporters. That accident brought back memories of the January 2001 plane crash in which 10 members of OSU's men's basketball traveling party, including two players, were killed on their return from a game in Colorado.

  • We're sure to hear plenty about climate change in the weeks ahead

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Oct 27, 2015

    CLIMATE change is never really out of the news, and the shrinking Democratic presidential field will make sure it stays a hot topic. As much as you've heard about this issue, be assured that you'll be hearing a lot more in coming weeks. The reason is the international climate talks that will take place in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. Just in time for global cooling (winter tends to do that), climate activists will again demand that humankind cut carbon dioxide emissions in order to stop heating the planet. As with previous such conclaves, dire warnings will be expressed.

  • Plenty of room to cut government spending

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Oct 26, 2015

    THE phrase, “your tax dollars at work,” is usually not a compliment. U.S. Rep. Steve Russell's latest “Waste Watch” report demonstrates why. The report highlights examples of pointless government spending. It is telling that Russell, R-Oklahoma City, easily identifies $823 million in dubious spending while barely scratching the surface of federal government largesse. One example that appears quite egregious is a nearly $30,000 grant the National Endowment for the Humanities provided for a study to “understand and describe toxic rhetoric in online spaces, with an emphasis on large-scale multiplayer computer games.

  • Arthur Brooks: Conservative policy can also be good politics

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Oct 25, 2015

    REPUBLICANS have struggled to win the presidency in recent election cycles, and some analysts suggest demographic trends may make that goal even more daunting in the future. To do better, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, has a simple response: Advance conservative policies that help more people achieve greater prosperity. That sounds like a no-brainer, yet many conservative politicians have resisted. Brooks hopes to change that. He's offered a detailed defense of his idea in a new book, “The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America,” which he discussed during a recent visit to Oklahoma.

  • Turning Oklahoma DHS around proving to be slow work

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    WE are making positive gains in turning this ship around …” Those are the words of Ed Lake, director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, in a letter emailed to The Oklahoman after the most recent report by experts charged with overseeing the agency's work to improve child welfare outcomes. Lake's metaphor is apt — the scope of the problem is massive. Rapid improvement was never likely. However the three experts, called co-neutrals, noted in their report Oct. 14 that 230 of the 16,640 children in state custody from April 2014 through March 2015 experienced maltreatment. The goal, agreed upon as part of the state's settlement of a federal lawsuit against DHS, is to keep 99.68 percent of foster children safe.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Not much interest in the 'Truth'

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Oct 24, 2015

    IN 2004, “60 Minutes II” aired a segment claiming President George W. Bush failed to fulfill his military obligations serving in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam era. That report was supposedly based on documents from the “personal file” of Bush's commanding officer. But those documents were almost immediately proven to be complete and obvious fakes created on a modern computer. News anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes quickly lost their jobs due to the scandal. Yet despite having perpetuated a bogus attack on a president that was proven to be fraudulent, Rather and Mapes continue to insist that they're somehow the victims in this story. That bit of spin is furthered in Mapes' account of the incident,

  • Logic lacking in fight over Oklahoma special-needs law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    OPPONENTS of a state scholarship program for children with special needs are determined to destroy it. If that requires jettisoning any pretense of logical coherence, then so be it. To cite just a few of many examples, opponents argue that scholarships to non-church affiliated schools are a violation of a state ban on aid to religion, but that state aid to explicitly religious entities outside K-12 education are not. They argue scholarships somehow drain school funds, when it's a mathematical fact that repeal of the law would reduce efficiency and provide less education benefit.

  • Lessons offered in demise of Affordable Care Act co-ops

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Oct 23, 2015

    NO matter how many times big-government theories fail upon exposure to reality, many liberals insist the solution is to embrace even bigger government. The demise of Obamacare's insurance co-ops provides the latest example. Among other things, the Affordable Care Act authorized creation of “nonprofit” co-ops to sell insurance. Supposedly, these would operate free of greedy market influences to provide lower-cost, quality insurance than private insurers. Instead, many co-ops are now collapsing. They were created in 23 states; eight have already gone belly up.