Saturday, November 16, 2019

Frix Hosts Study on Cost of Living Adjustment for State Pensioners


Frix Hosts Study on Cost of Living Adjustment for State Pensioners

OKLAHOMA CITY (Friday, Nov. 15th, 2019) – State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) today hosted a bipartisan interim study examining Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for those in Oklahoma’s seven pension plans. Several lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle joined today’s study, which was held before the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee.

Frix ran legislation last year that would have given state retirees a COLA. The legislation passed the House overwhelmingly but was not picked up in the state Senate. Instead, the Senate requested an actuarial analysis to see how the state’s retirement systems would be affected by a 2% COLA. The House made a request for an analysis of 4%. Those reports are due Dec. 1.

“My hope is to show that our state retirement systems have improved dramatically over the past decade, and we are now in a position to give our retirees the COLA they deserve and have been promised,” Frix said. “This remains a priority for the House, and we hope our colleagues in the Senate also recognize a cost-of-living adjustment is long overdue.”

State retirees last received a COLA in 2008. Since then, inflation has increased 19.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew) added, “Our public retirees spent their lives and careers dedicated to serving our state, and after 11 years of waiting, they deserve the long-term stability that a COLA would provide. The strength of our retirement systems is vastly improved compared to 11 years ago and I hope today's interim study will move us one step closer to delivering results for these state retirees.”

State Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-Oklahoma City) said, “House Democrats are appreciative of House Republicans for acknowledging retired public employees, including teachers, firefighters, and police officers deserve a long over-due cost-of-living adjustment. We look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues across the aisle to find a long-term solution for COLAs going forward.”

State Rep. Chelsey Branham (D-Edmond) said, “On the surface, the low unemployment rate in Oklahoma seems like a testament to our success, but in reality the number of underemployed and multi-employed Oklahomans turn that statistic on its head. Cost of living continues to go up and our minimum wage continues to be stagnant, which is forcing Oklahomans to have two and even three jobs to keep up. This is especially true of our retired state employees, who are struggling to balance the benefits of retirement from a life of service with post-retirement employment just to make ends meet. This COLA will be a big lift for the state, but ensuring that Oklahomans have a high quality of life is our duty. I am thankful for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, who understand the COLA is a smart investment in moving our state forward.”

Both Hilbert and Branham serve on the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee.

The heads of all of the state’s pension and retirements systems – state firefighters, police, justices and judges, law enforcement, teachers and public employees’ – were invited to take part in the study.

Presenters gave a financial status report of the retirement systems, a history of how they are funded and the impact a 4% COLA would have on the systems’ funding ratios. Tyler Bond, research manager with the National Institute on Retirement Security, also spoke on the economic impact of retirees across Oklahoma. Tom Spencer, executive director of the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System, also spoke on the Oklahoma Pension Legislation Actuarial Analysis.

Frix urges the state Senate to take up the legislation to grant state retirees a COLA in the upcoming legislative session. He said the state is in much better financial shape today than the last time a COLA was given. Teachers have been given a pay raise two years in a row as have other state employees. The state’s financial rankings also have improved. Several of the state’s pension plans are now more than 100% funded and most are 80% funded, which is indicative of solvency.

Frix said retired state employees are every bit as concerned about the overall performance of their benefit plans as anyone.

“Retirees don’t want to harm their own benefit plan, but they want the COLA they were promised when the plans were established,” he said. “Some retired employees have seen health insurance premiums rise at a rate that has outpaced their retirement benefits. Retirees have to pay into the plan just to pay their premiums.”

During the study, Frix also discussed retirees’ loss of buying power since they last received a COLA and the many retirees who do not receive Social Security.

Small: how long are Oklahomans to wait for promised improvements in academic results?


The waiting game
By Jonathan Small

As I’ve noted in recent weeks, Oklahoma school appropriations have surged by 20 percent over the last two legislative sessions, but outcomes continue to decline, as has become apparent with the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the ACT exam and state testing results. When I point this out, I’m often told to “give it time,” that one cannot expect school performance to change in just one or two years.

Fair enough. But the problem is this pattern extends for decades. Oklahomans have steadily increased school funding through the years, but the outcomes produced by the school system are often unchanged from prior decades—or even worse.

In 1990, a host of tax increases were passed for education as part of House Bill 1017. Since then, Oklahoma has legalized the lottery and casinos, and increased taxes again, all to boost school funding. And, contrary to the political spin from some activists, the amount spent on education in Oklahoma has increased significantly over that time.

In 1990, Oklahoma’s per-pupil expenditure was $7,934. By the 2018 state budget year that figure reached $9,094, an increase of nearly 15 percent. (Both figures are adjusted for inflation.)

The problem is that we’re often getting the same or worse results, just at a higher cost.

Oklahoma’s NAEP score on fourth grade reading in 1992 was 220 (prior-year outcomes were not immediately available on the NAEP site). In 2019, the score was 216.

Oklahoma’s average composite ACT score in 1989, before HB 1017’s tax increases passed, was 19.9. In 2019, Oklahoma’s average composite ACT score was 18.9.

Just how long are Oklahomans supposed to “wait” for those promised improvements in academic results? Surely a quarter-century is long enough to conclude that spending increases alone are not getting the job done.

But what is the alternative to waiting and hoping as yet another generation of Oklahoma children gets left behind? One proven solution is to increase school choice.

Low-income urban students often enter charter schools two grades behind, but finish performing at grade level or better and go on to obtain college degrees. The parents of children with special needs who now attend private schools thanks to state-funded scholarships will tell you of lives changes, dramatically, for the better.

To increase spending on a government system does not change outcomes. But harness spending increases to parental choice, and then you have a formula for improvement and upward mobility. No government system is going to care for a child more than that child’s family or guardian, and simply spending more money to get the same (or worse) results is not progress.

It’s time for this decades-long waiting game to end. State lawmakers should put Oklahoma on a path to true academic improvement by not only boosting education funding, but also giving parents the ability to choose their child’s school.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Friday, November 15, 2019

National Young Republicans schedule new state convention for Oklahoma YRs


Back in September, the Oklahoma Young Republicans met for their state convention, intending to elect a new slate of officers. The convention broke down in chaos as two factions met an impasse over credentialing. One side simply walked out, while the other side carried on with business.

Following this, the Young Republican National Federation requested that the OKYRs hold a new convention with oversight by the YRNF to ensure no irregularities occur.

Sources indicate that outgoing chairman John Roberts failed to schedule a new convention as requested by the YRNF, so the YRNF voted at their fall meeting to essentially take over the duties of the Oklahoma YR chair in the interim. They have now set a date for a convention re-do to take place in Oklahoma City:

Dear Oklahoma Young Republicans:

The 2019 Oklahoma Young Republican's State Convention will be held on Saturday, December 14th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  A specific location and time will be sent out in the near future.

In response to issues from the attempted state convention in September, the Young Republican National Federation has agreed to mediate the dispute by hosting the 2019 Oklahoma YR state convention to ensure leadership is duly elected prior to the new year as required by the rules.

Please plan to attend the state convention on Saturday, December 14th!

Best,
Rick Loughery
YRNF Chairman

Details will be coming when announced by the YRNF.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Oklahoma's Southern Baptists call for abolition of abortion at annual meeting


Hallelujah.

The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma held its annual state meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Oklahoma City. The state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention authorized a re-branding to simply Oklahoma Baptists, elected new officers, and passed several resolutions, the most prominent of which called on the Oklahoma Legislature to "enact legislation for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise."

During the 2019 legislative session, leadership of the BGCO publicly opposed an Abolition bill by State Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow), sparking uproar among many Oklahoma Baptists and ultimately led to this resolution by convention delegates (or "messengers" from churches).

To my knowledge, this is the first Southern Baptist state affiliate to move beyond a generic pro-life stance and adopt a pro-abolition position.

Here is the text of the resolution, posted in the image above:
We, the messengers to the 2019 Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, meeting at Quail Springs Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 11-12, 2019, believe in the sanctity of human life, that every person—born and unborn—is created in God’s image and deserves life. We are thus deeply grieved that the barbaric practice of abortion continues in Oklahoma. We are horrified to know the abortion rate is increasing in Oklahoma, recognizing the loss of each one of these unborn children is a tragedy. We are calling on Oklahoma Baptists to unite toward positive and effective efforts that build a culture of life and that work to end abortion. Through fervent prayer, preaching, legislative efforts, education, volunteering and more, we pledge to renew our efforts to promote life and protect the unborn. With God’s help, we will work to see a day in which every unborn child in Oklahoma and America is protected. Finally, we call upon the Oklahoma State Legislature to enact legislation that calls for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise.
Will the BGCO leadership adhere to the voice of Oklahoma Baptists and support an abolition bill this coming legislative session? Time will tell.

As of 2017 there were 1,785 BGCO-affiliated congregations with 579,476 members across the state.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Relative of Mexican massacre victims: hold onto your guns


Last Monday, nine American citizens were gunned down in Mexico by a drug cartel, caught in an ambush on a highway in the northern state of Sonora. The caravan of three vehicles was headed from one Mormon community to another for a family wedding; six of the victims were children ranging from eight months old to twelve years old. Eight children survived and were eventually rescued after hiding in the brush.

Kendra Lee Miller, a sister-in-law of one of the victims, went on CNN last week and had this to say (17:10 mark):
“I don’t know where you’re standing on the whole, people-trying-to-take-the-away-guns-in-America right now, but I say, fight for those guns,” she told Cooper. “These things are happening here in Mexico because the people can’t protect themselves, because by law they’re not allowed to own these guns. So since the government isn’t doing their job of protection in the way that they should, these cartels can just wreak havoc and the people are left defenseless. So I say, hold onto your guns, people.” [transcript courtesy of Disrn.com]
When a people is disarmed, and unable to legally protect themselves, anarchy and oppression by barbaric criminal elements such as exists in Mexico is the ultimate end. All the more reason for Americans to cling to their guns and resist efforts by Leftists to disarm us.

1889 Institute: End the "car dealer licensing cartel"



THE CASE FOR ENDING NEW CAR DEALER LICENSING
New car dealer regulations are anticompetitive, at the expense of Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (November 13, 2019) – “There may not be a clearer example of naked protectionism in the laws of Oklahoma than the protection afforded to car dealers,” says a new study by 1889 Institute Research Fellow, Mike Davis.

The 1889 Institute study, entitled “Fully Loaded: Oklahoma’s Car Dealer Licensing Cartel,” points out that the law:

  1. Makes car brokering (buying on behalf of someone else for a fee) illegal, making it impossible for most Oklahomans to have experienced car buyers act on their behalf, and denying opportunity to those who would like to do so. This means car dealers always have the advantage in deal-making.
  2. Forces car manufacturers to sell only through dealers not owned by the manufacturer (except for those that existed prior to 2000, begging the question of who the law is meant to protect). This means Oklahomans, by law, must pay a middleman in order to buy a car.
  3. Forces car manufacturers to grant dealerships in perpetuity, not allowing a manufacturer to end a dealership agreement unless it shows “good cause” as approved by a body consisting mostly of car dealers. This means manufacturers find it difficult to reorganize business to compete for buyers, which means buyers lose.
  4. Grants new car dealerships exclusive rights to sell in specific geographic territories. This means buyers are dealing in a market with less potential competition.
  5. Explicitly states that its purpose is to prevent new car dealers from going bankrupt. Financial challenge is often a result of competition, with costly, uncompetitive companies being forced to change or make way for efficient companies – a benefit to consumers – and a benefit denied to Oklahomans buying new cars. This is an explicit goal in state law.

“Since Oklahoma’s new car dealer franchising laws are of, by, and for car dealers, instead of being written for Oklahomans in general, it is easy to recommend their complete repeal,” said the study’s author, Mike Davis. “The law is written to allow out-of-state manufacturers and the vast majority of Oklahomans to be preyed upon by new car dealers,” he said.

About the 1889 Institute
The 1889 Institute is an independent Oklahoma think tank advancing public policy ideas to promote the flourishing of all Oklahomans through limited, responsible government, robust civil society, and free enterprise. The publication, “Fully Loaded: Oklahoma’s Car Dealer Licensing Cartel” can be found on the nonprofit’s website at https://1889institute.org/licensing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Folds of Honor Foundation's Ed Pulido endorses Bice for Congress


Major Ed Pulido, U.S. Army (Ret.), Endorses Stephanie Bice for Congress

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 12, 2019) - The Bice for Congress campaign today announced that Major Ed Pulido, U.S. Army (Ret.), endorsed conservative Republican Stephanie Bice for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District. Pulido’s endorsement is part of a growing list of veterans who support Bice’s goal of returning the 5th district back to Republicans.

“I’ve supported Stephanie Bice since her first run for State Senate. She’s a woman of solid integrity and a great American,” said Maj. Pulido. “Stephanie a proven leader who supports my conservative ideals and knows how to get things done.”

“No one knows more about serving our country than veterans, so I’m honored to have the support of Major Pulido,” said Bice. “He’s a true American hero who has sacrificed so much for his country and has dedicated his life’s work to all of our wounded patriots who have served.”

Maj. Pulido, senior vice president of the Folds of Honor Foundation, works to solve issues impacting veterans and military families.

“I’m a disabled veteran and my driving passion is to make sure that our military families are not left behind on the field of battle or on the home front,” said Maj. Pulido. “It is what we at Folds of Honor call the “mission first, people always” approach to make sure that we never forget those that have sacrificed for our country.

“Stephanie takes that same approach in the Oklahoma Senate, and I’ll know she’ll put the concerns of the American people – her constituents – first as our fifth district congresswoman.”

Bice said she would always stand up for America’s service members, veterans and their families.

“National security should be our government’s top priority, but we must also keep our pledge to our veterans and their families. We owe them our freedom, and the least we can do is show our gratitude by providing them the best possible care.”

Since launching her campaign, Bice has established herself as one of the strongest U.S. House candidates around the country. National political forecasters believe Oklahoma’s Fifth District will be the most competitive race in 2020.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tulsa voters to decide on $640,000,000 tax package


Tomorrow, voters in Tulsa will casting final ballots on a package of temporary taxes for over $620,000,000 in addition to a new permanent sales tax of 0.05% (about $20,000,000 for the time period of the other taxes).

Dubbed Improve Our Tulsa 2, the package is touted as funding improvements for streets, public safety, and infrastructure. A combination of sales and property taxes form the proposal.

Michael Bates of BatesLine.com has an in-depth analysis of the proposal, with a legion of accompanying research links for perusal. As always, Bates is the place to go when it comes for thoughts on Tulsa issues.

Bates has also posted a column by Brent Isaacs that goes into further detail on why Tulsans should vote the proposal down. You can access that article at this link.

Music Monday: Over There

In recognition of Veterans Day (formerly Armistice Day), this week's Music Monday is Over There, a 1917 song written by American entertainer and composer George M. Cohan that was popular during World War I (and revived during WWII).

Enjoy!


See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

November 4th, 2019: Great Speckled Bird
October 28th, 2019: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 14th, 2019: Batman Theme
September 30th, 2019: These Are My People (Johnny Cash)
September 23rd, 2019: Pictures at an Exhibition (Great Gate of Kiev)
September 16th, 2019: The Streets of Laredo (Piano Puzzler)
September 9th, 2019: I'm Ready To Go
August 26th, 2019: It Is Not Death To Die
August 5th, 2019: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
July 29th, 2019: Let It Be Said Of Us
July 15th, 2019: Bach's "Little" Fugue in G Minor
July 8th, 2019: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
July 1st, 2019: Medley of Sousa Marches
June 24th, 2019: Seventy-Six Trombones
June 17th, 2019: I Want To Be That Man
June 3rd, 2019: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'
May 20th, 2019: Lonesome Road
May 13th, 2019: Mr. Mom
April 29th, 2019: Have Faith in God (Muskogee's hymn)
April 15th, 2019: The Government Can
March 25th, 2019: Transcendental Étude No. 4, "Mazeppa"
March 18th, 2019: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
March 11th, 2019: What Wondrous Love is This
March 4th, 2019: Scandinavian Waltz
February 18th, 2019: Adagio for Strings
February 11th, 2019: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 4th, 2019: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean
January 7th, 2019: Loch Lomond
December 31st, 2018: Auld Lang Syne
December 24th, 2018: Remember O, thou Man
December 17th, 2018: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 10th, 2018: Carol of the Bells (medley)
December 3rd, 2018: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 26th, 2018: Happy Birthday
November 19th, 2018: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
November 12th, 2018: Hymn to the Fallen
October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Saturday, November 09, 2019

OCPA column: Academic results show why families voting with their feet

Academic results show why families voting with their feet
By Jonathan Small

Government officials often refer to government spending as an “investment” to suggest a business approach is being applied to public policy. But if spending equals investment, then Oklahomans must ask, “What are the results?”

When it comes to our school system, results are now worse than they were before the “investment” of the past two years.

On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nation’s report card, Oklahoma student scores declined in fourth and eighth grade reading, were stagnant in fourth grade math, and improved slightly in eight grade math (by a margin considered statistically insignificant). Oklahoma students remain below the national average in all NAEP subjects.

On the ACT exam, Oklahoma students’ scores declined in every subject this year. In fact, 46 percent of students failed to meet ACT college-readiness benchmarks in any of the subjects tested.

When Oklahoma state test results were released months ago, they showed academic achievement was lower in 2019 than in 2017. In every subject and grade tested, a majority performed below grade level.

Those declining results have occurred even though lawmakers increased K-12 school appropriations by 20 percent over the last two sessions.

Some will object it’s unrealistic to expect a dramatic turnaround in just over a year. I don’t disagree. But is it unrealistic to think academic results should at least stop declining after such huge spending increases?

If “investment” alone is failing to stem the bleeding, let alone generate improvement, then more is needed. Policy changes must also be adopted. And parents in one of the state’s worst school systems have highlighted one solution.

Tulsa Public Schools faces a $20 million shortfall. The district’s leadership blames its financial problems on state funding cuts. But, as noted, the state has not been tightfisted over the last two years. Instead, Tulsa’s true problem is that students are leaving the district in droves and state funding is following them out the exits.

Where are those students going? According to the Tulsa World, 3,700 students left TPS for Epic Charter Schools, an online provider, from summer 2013 to June 2019, while another 3,300 students left for brick-and-mortar charter schools.

Parents are taking stock of the results of state “investment” in districts like Tulsa, and are responding by voting with their feet and moving children to schools that produce better outcomes. The greatest challenge for those families is not a lack of state “investment” in schools; it’s a limited array of school choices when their geographically assigned school fails to deliver results.

Combining school choice with greater education funding is policymakers’ best path to improving Oklahoma’s education system and student outcomes. Otherwise, next year may end the same as this year—with policymakers baffled that schools not only failed to improve after tax-and-spending increases, but actually got worse.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.