• Achievments of Oklahoma science-math school justify its funding

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Apr 12, 2015

    IT says something about the state of education in Oklahoma that local officials will fight tooth and nail to prevent closure of even the worst-performing school site, but far less energy is expended regarding the potential loss of one of the state’s best schools: the Oklahoma School of Science and Math. We hope lawmakers realize how much is at stake and ensure the school’s continued viability by doing all they can to appropriate sufficient funding this year. OSSM provides students from across Oklahoma the opportunity to obtain high-level math and science courses they cannot take at their local high school, often instructed by Ph.D. faculty. The students, who mostly live on the campus, have come from all 77 counties with

  • Latest Oklahoma death penalty challenge a key piece of future criminal justice

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Apr 12, 2015

    SEEMINGLY numberless are legal challenges involving those who have broken the law in the most egregious manner. Death row inmates are a litigious bunch. Where once the challenges centered on innocence, they now focus on execution protocol. The goal is the same: to avoid paying the ultimate price for doing the ultimate crime. The goal of many of those representing them is to eliminate capital punishment altogether. As executions shifted over the centuries from beheadings to hangings to electrocutions to lethal injections, challenges have only increased. It’s easy to argue that beheading or hanging is cruel and unusual in our time. It’s less easy to make that argument against lethal injections. Yet the arguments keep

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Reasons to be skeptical about Iran nuke deal

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Apr 11, 2015

    DURING a visit to The Oklahoman this week, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole spoke about his recent visit to Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The region, he said, is “in turmoil, probably more turmoil than ever.” Part of reason is that the Iranians “are on the move everywhere,” with involvement in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, the Gaza Strip and other places. Cole, R-Moore, said it’s worth noting that Iran “is still a state sponsor of terrorism … they do more of it than anybody else in the world. They’ve never kept their agreements in the past, including the nuclear agreements up to this point.” Meantime, he said, the Obama administration has a long list of foreign policy failures — Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Yemen

  • Chefs offer a shining example of the Oklahoma Standard

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Apr 10, 2015

    WHAT’S the “Oklahoma Standard” look like? Dave Cathey offered a compelling example in a two-part series that concluded Wednesday in The Oklahoman. It’s the kind of story that should make any Oklahoman proud. Cathey, the newspaper’s food editor, reported on (and helped with) an effort by Oklahoma City chefs to assist those in our community in greatest need — the homeless who use the WestTown Resource Campus downtown. WestTown was developed by the Homeless Alliance, which has worked for years to assist the less fortunate. The campus, at 1724 NW 4, includes a day shelter that provides housing and support for the homeless.

  • Scuttling pension oversight measure was right move by Oklahoma lawmakers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Apr 10, 2015

    WE’VE had reason on more than one occasion to rap the Legislature for advancing flagrantly bad bills, so it’s a pleasure to praise members for killing bad legislation designed to change oversight of state pension systems. Under current law, officials such as the state schools superintendent, members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the insurance commissioner, and the director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services either serve on the board of trustees for various pension systems or appoint a designee. Senate Bill 396 would have changed state law to require that those appointees be employees of the state agency headed by the appointing official.

  • Jari Askins is an excellent choice to help work with Oklahoma DHS

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Apr 9, 2015

    Her background will be an asset in tough job

  • Improved job readiness programs should be part of corrections reform equation.

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Apr 9, 2015

    FRANK Underwood is the fictional president on the Netflix series “House of Cards.” In Season 3, Underwood rolls out what he hopes is a signature jobs program. The program is called America Works. Turns out, there’s a real-world program by that same name. It’s not a case of art imitating life so much as it is art coincidentally mirroring life. The fictional America Works aims to create 10 million jobs by spending $500 billion in taxpayer money. The real program involves a job readiness program aimed (in part) at helping some of the 650,000 inmates released annually from U.S. prisons and jails. Underwood is from South Carolina, a Southern state that — like Oklahoma — is tough on crime.

  • Lawmakers should look for ways to keep Oklahoma's Promise program strong

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Apr 8, 2015

    SINCE its inception nearly 20 years ago, the state’s Oklahoma’s Promise program has helped roughly 50,000 low- and middle-income students make their way through college. This is a program that works, and one that merits continued support. Oklahoma’s Promise, originally called the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), pays the tuition of Oklahoma students who attend Oklahoma colleges and universities. The emphasis on tuition is important because even all these years later, there occasionally is confusion among lawmakers about exactly what a student gets when they qualify. They get tuition paid for — not fees or housing or food.

  • FAA drone regulations stuck in molasses

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Apr 8, 2015

    IF you need an example of how overly burdensome regulation stifles economic activity, consider this: The Federal Aviation Administration recently gave approval to Amazon to test-fly a delivery drone, but took so long to give the green light that the drone in question is now obsolete. How’s that for government inefficiency? By the time the FAA gave its approval to Amazon, the company didn’t need it. Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, testified at a congressional hearing that the FAA approval was for a drone the company doesn’t test anymore. “We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad.” Officials should take note of the last phrase in that last sentence

  • Report highlights Oklahoma's education needs

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Tue, Apr 7, 2015

    A new report offers a sobering verdict on Oklahoma’s education system: Unless things improve, a huge share of Oklahoma students won’t be qualified for Oklahoma jobs in the future. “Oklahoma’s Business Case for Education Reform,” a report commissioned by the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative, notes that about 33 percent of Oklahoma’s working-age adults currently hold two- or four-year college degrees. That number is expected to increase to 37 percent by 2020. But 64 percent of Oklahoma jobs will require postsecondary education by that time. “Without immediate change, our state’s best and brightest will continue to be recruited away and our students will be plagued by poor educational options that set many

  • Charter school idea shouldn't be dismissed by Oklahoma lawmakers

    The Oklahoma Editorial | Published: Mon, Apr 6, 2015

    OKLAHOMA City’s renaissance has been remarkable. Downtown has been revitalized. New jobs, new opportunities and new energy are drawing many people back to the urban center. But one major obstacle has the potential to impede this progress: Oklahoma City schools. A modest proposal awaiting action in the Legislature could improve the situation. Senate Bill 68, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, would increase charter school opportunities. Multiple entities can sponsor charter schools. Holt’s bill adds the city governments of Oklahoma City and Tulsa to that list. This is a small change that could have a significant impact in Oklahoma City. Holt notes that schools remain the “number one complaint” of young families.

  • Falling prices continue to take a toll on energy industry in Oklahoma, U.S.

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Apr 6, 2015

    THAT sound you don’t hear right now is the din from oil industry critics kvetching about “obscene profits.” Funny how this group goes down a rabbit hole when things aren’t rosy for oil and gas producers, when profits are scarce (or nonexistent) and when the industry starts shedding high-paying jobs. Hard to believe that it’s only been about a year since they were moaning about the gross production tax rate in Oklahoma — how it helped the rich get richer at the expense of everyone else. Now the “everyone else” camp is starting to realize that what’s good for oil and gas is good for all. Oil and gas industry layoffs are spreading, profits are thinning and share prices are plummeting.

  • Oklahoma would benefit from continued investment in mental health

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Apr 5, 2015

    OKLAHOMA is moving toward “performance-informed budgeting” for state government, an attempt to make agency heads show that the taxpayer funding they’re receiving is being spent as wisely as possible. That’ll be a walk in the park for Terri White. As director of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, White already has piles of data showing the return that the state is getting on its investment in her agency. In short, it’s substantial. Budget writers should remember this as they slice up the pie during this difficult budget year. For the next fiscal year, lawmakers have $611 million less to allocate than they did a year ago. This will translate into budget cuts for several agencies.

  • Actions by FCC threaten rural Internet in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Apr 5, 2015

    Competition, investment will suffer

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Special licence tags can be problematic

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Apr 4, 2015

    THE U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments recently in a case from Texas. At issue: whether specialty license plates issued by the state are governed by the First Amendment’s free speech principles. The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans want a special plate featuring a Confederate battle flag — something many find offensive. A state board denied the request, saying the message would provide controversy. The board was right: The denial led to a court fight that now rests with the nation’s highest court. The Los Angeles Times reported that justices appeared to lean toward the case argued by Texas’ attorney general — that specialty plates represent the words and views of the state, not the individual. Oklahoma is

  • Weather makes for strange political bedfellows

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Apr 3, 2015

    WEATHER makes for some strange political bedfellows. U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, has teamed with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., to sponsor legislation to improve storm forecasting. On its face, this is an issue that should have no political implications. For global warming zealots, however, storms and climate change are inseparable. Lucas, a veteran member of Congress, is one of the most conservative Republicans in the House. Bonamici, who’s been in Washington a little more than three years, represents a district that hasn’t elected a Republican since Gerald Ford was president and that overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama. In places such as “Portlandia,” violence in nature is known as “polluting the weather.

  • Sure recipe for trouble ahead inside Oklahoma prisons

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Apr 3, 2015

    HERE’S a sure recipe for trouble down the road with Oklahoma’s already beleaguered prison system. According to data from the state Department of Corrections, about one-third of its inmates exhibit a serious mental illness — and that total has grown by nearly a third, to roughly 9,400 inmates, in the past two years alone. Meantime, as Oklahoma Watch reported recently, the agency has significantly cut its group therapy programs and pared individual therapy sessions. Consequently, the agency’s mental health experts — psychologists, psychiatrists and the like — spend most of their time on crisis intervention, instead of consistently being able to address inmates’ issues before they get to the crisis stage.

  • Passage of Oklahoma prescription monitoring bill is worth saluting

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Apr 2, 2015

    GOV. Mary Fallin on Tuesday signed a bill that has the potential to save lives. It reached her desk a year later than hoped for, and it doesn’t go as far as backers of the original bill had wanted, but it’s a victory nonetheless for those concerned about Oklahoma’s significant prescription drug problem. House Bill 1948, by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, and Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, requires doctors to check an online database before prescribing some highly addictive medications. After the law goes into effect Nov. 1, doctors will have to check the database the first time they prescribe for a patient, and then check it every 180 days thereafter.

  • Redbuds' colorful display in full bloom across Oklahoma

    Published: Thu, Apr 2, 2015

    PURISTS have always insisted that mistletoe was a poor choice for the official state flower, but few would argue with the selection of the redbud as Oklahoma’s official state tree. When you see mistletoe in December, you’re seeing a parasite. When you see a redbud in late March or early April, you’re seeing paradise. To mistletoe we’ve attached an almost spiritual significance. Redbud has none of that, but we would argue that nothing stirs the spirit more than the sight of a redbud at the peak of its beauty. True mistletoe is European; the Oklahoma variety resembles it enough that the name is appropriate. Scandinavians associated mistletoe with their goddess of love. This is one explanation for the link between the

  • Incident offers Oklahoma lawmakers, others a lesson in civility

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Apr 1, 2015

    IN a hasty culture like our own, civility is generally an insufficiently appreciated virtue. Until we find ourselves the object of incivility or its publicly shamed perpetrator, we dismiss beautiful manners as arbitrary, if not unnecessary. Arbitrary, etiquette might be — but it is not unnecessary. Oklahoma conservative leaders recently relearned the relevance of civility after a debate that included unseemly remarks on social media. As state senators deliberated a bill to prohibit state educators from paying union dues by payroll deduction, the scholars at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs transparently voiced their support for the bill. The argument became personal when Trent England, OCPA vice president for