OKLAHOMA CITY (March 9, 2017) – Oklahomans are a step closer to a new, strong school accountability system with the state House’s passage of House Bill 1693. Authored by state Rep. Scott Martin, it repeals the current A-F school report card calculation and establishes the framework for one that is valid, meaningful and reliable.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister praised lawmakers for their strong bipartisan approval of the bill, which passed 76-20.
“I want to thank Rep. Martin, House Education Committee Chair Rep. Rogers, Speaker McCall and all the House members today who stood up for teachers, parents and students by approving a new, more useful school accountability. This is a strong and dynamic system that reflects the hard work of a broad-based coalition of education stakeholders. The legislators who voted ‘yes’ placed schoolkids over politics and rejected blatant inaccuracies voiced by some critics,” she said.
“Amid so many challenges in education, this proposed school report card system complies with new federal law, provides relevant information for educators and gives communities and parents a clear view of the important work of schools.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Fallin signed House Joint Resolution 1028, approving the assessment and accountability report recommendations prepared by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and unanimously passed by the State Board of Education.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter on Wednesday announced changes to his executive staff including the appointment of Commissioner Dawn Cash as First Assistant Attorney General.
Cash will be replacing outgoing First Assistant Cara Rodriguez, who will be transitioning to private practice with Coffee & Associates. Cash assumes the new role after serving as Vice Chairman of the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Prior to serving as Vice Chairman, Dawn served as the director of the Tax Policy division and senior deputy general counsel at the Tax Commission. Cash received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and a juris doctor from the University of Tulsa.
“Dawn will be a vital member of our team and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Dawn’s demonstrated leadership and commitment to serve the interests of the people of Oklahoma give me complete confidence in her ability to lead our team.”
Attorney General Hunter also praised Rodriguez for her service to the state of Oklahoma, “Cara’s distinguished service to the law and the people of Oklahoma has been unmatched in her time here.”
Other staff announcements include the appointment of Terri Watkins as Director of Communications. Watkins has served as Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for the past three years. She is a member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued this statement on the release of the A-F school grades:
“Oklahoma’s A-F grading system is an important measure of school performance for parents as well as school administrators and teachers. The A-F school grades provide a mechanism for teachers and administrators to compare their schools with others, while providing insight on how they can improve. The grades also let parents know how the schools are performing, while showing other school patrons what supports are needed to help their schools prosper.
“It is not easy to see significant academic gains in academic performance. It takes hard work and leadership from all levels. It is very important to recognize the efforts of numerous schools in the state that continue to demonstrate academic excellence and improved educational outcomes for students as well as identify schools that need improvement. It is especially important to highlight the service our teachers provide. The daily contributions they make and the role they play in educating the future generations of this great state are honorable.
“I remain committed to having a robust assessment of the schools in Oklahoma. I strongly support the continuation of this program, especially the easy-to-understand designation of A-F that provides parents with a clear understanding of how a school is performing. Just as students are graded on the A-F scale, it is important to have a similar designation for parents to understand school performance.”
The Oklahoma Legislature passed and Fallin signed legislation adopting the A-F School Grading System in 2011 to provide incentives to schools that challenge their students to reach high levels of college and career readiness.
Businesses Encouraged to Join Feeding Oklahoma Drive
OKLAHOMA CITY – To help fight hunger this holiday season, Governor Mary Fallin today encouraged Oklahomans to join her seventh annual Feeding Oklahoma Drive during the month of October. Oklahoma is consistently one of the hungriest states in the nation.
“There’s still time to participate in my Feeding Oklahoma Drive,” said Fallin. “The drive doesn’t end until October 31, so you can still host a food drive or make a donation to help us meet our goal of providing 2 million meals for our hungry Oklahoma neighbors.”
The month-long food drive benefits the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and their partner agencies across the state. Food donations raised will stay in the local area to help residents struggling with hunger. The Feeding Oklahoma Drive comes at an important time, as the need for food assistance during the winter increases dramatically.
Non-perishable food items can also be donated at all BancFirst locations, Oklahoma City metro area Bob Moore dealerships, select AT&T locations, the Community Food Bank and the Regional Food Bank. Most-needed items include canned meat, canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned tuna, peanut butter, and rice and beans.
Monetary donations can be made online at feedingoklahoma.org. Every dollar donated will provide five meals for the one in six Oklahomans who have inconsistent access to food.
Last fiscal year, the Regional Food Bank and Community Food Bank distributed more than 73.1 million pounds of food and products through a network of more than 1,700 charitable feeding programs and schools across Oklahoma.
About the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the state’s largest private, domestic hunger-relief organization and a member of Feeding America’s network of Food Banks. The nonprofit provides enough food to feed more than 126,000 hungry Oklahomans each week through a network of more than 1,300 schools and charitable feeding programs in 53 central and western Oklahoma counties. Since its inception in 1980, the Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 644 million pounds of food to feed Oklahoma’s hungry. For more information, visit http://www.regionalfoodbank.org; find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/regionalfoodbank or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rfbo.
About the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma
Founded in 1981, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is one of the largest, private hunger-relief organizations in Oklahoma. It distributes donated items to 450 Partner Programs in 24 counties of eastern Oklahoma. These programs include emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, shelters and veteran and senior citizen centers. In addition, the Food Bank helps raise public awareness about hunger and the role of food banking in alleviating hunger. For more information, visit okfoodbank.org.
Calls on Educators to Guide Students into ‘Critical Occupations’
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin on Thursday hosted the Oklahoma Works Summit at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Nearly 250 business and education leaders attended the event, which focused on the governor’s Oklahoma Works initiative, launched in 2015, to ensure students are being educated for the high-quality, high-paying jobs the state wants to retain and attract.
“Oklahoma must concentrate on steering students into critical occupations, or those careers where the demand for workers is strongest,” Fallin said
The governor outlined a plan to align education and work skills with businesses and job openings. More CareerTech certificates and college degrees are needed to meet the demands of the workplace that will require higher education levels than nearly half of Oklahomans currently have, she told those attending the Oklahoma Works State Summit.
About 46 percent of Oklahoma’s workforce has a high school degree or less, but in nine years only 23 percent of new jobs will be available to people with those qualifications, Fallin said.
In 2025, 77 percent of all new jobs will be available only to those who have education beyond high school. Currently, only 54 percent of Oklahomans currently have that level of education.
“In order to reach the middle class, students will have to have a credential or a two- or four-year degree,” Fallin said.
“Oklahoma gains in countless ways when it meets the needs of energy, aerospace or technology,” she said. “Top industry sectors pay nearly twice as much the state average for all jobs in Oklahoma.”
Surveys conducted as part of the Oklahoma Works initiative gathered data on employability skills needed now and in the future by business, existing relationships between industry and education, and opportunities for students to explore career options and participate in post-secondary opportunities in high school.
“College graduates and students who earn credentials put themselves in a position to earn substantially more money during their careers than their counterparts without such advanced degrees, but merely earning a degree is not enough,” Fallin said. “Education for the sake of education is a noble endeavor, but we all know that all degrees are not created equal.”
Information released during the summit showed the top job openings in Oklahoma included registered nurses, general and operations managers, accountants and auditors, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, and elementary school teachers. The highest-paying jobs in the state included surgeons, petroleum engineers, architectural and engineering managers, pharmacists, and mining and geological engineers.
Additional speakers at the Oklahoma Works Summit were a keynote speech by Brandon Busteed, executive director of the Center for Education and Workforce for Gallup, and Oklahoma Secretary of Education and Workforce Development Natalie Shirley. The summit also featured a panel discussion with Fallin; Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister; Brad Krieger, representing the State Chamber of Oklahoma; and Nathaniel Harding, founder and president of Antioch Energy and Oklahoma Works Key Economic Network champion from the central region.
Voters in Okmulgee County who want to have absentee ballots mailed to them for the November 8, 2016, Federal, State, and County General Election should apply Now, County Election Board Secretary Ashley Carnes said today. Although the County Election Board can accept applications for absentee ballots until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2nd, Carnes urged voters who want to vote by absentee ballot to apply early.
Military and Overseas absentee ballots go out 45 days before an election. Standard and Physically Incapacitated/ Care of Incapacitated Absentee ballots are mailed out 30 days before an election. If an application for absentee ballots is received after the initial mailing of the ballots, then ballots will be mailed upon reception of said application up to the deadline.
Absentee ballot application forms are available at the County Election Board office located at 314 W 7 Street, Room 102 of the Okmulgee County Courthouse. An online version of the form can be filled out and submitted electronically at: www.elections.ok.gov. A print form can also be downloaded at that address.
“At least two mail transactions must be made,” Carnes said. “The County Election Board must mail the ballots to the voter and the voter must return the voted ballots by mail.”
Ballots must be in the hands of County Election Board officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
Carnes said any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in any election in which he/she is eligible to vote. It is not necessary to give a reason for voting absentee.
“While anyone can vote absentee without giving a reason, the law still provides several advantages to absentee voters in some categories,” Carnes said.
By stating one of the following reasons on their applications, absentee voters can activate special conditions that make it easier for them to use absentee ballots. The reasons are:
• Voters who are physically incapacitated and voters who care for physically incapacitated persons who cannot be left unattended may vote absentee. They may apply only by mail, by fax, by email, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.
• Voters who are confined to nursing homes in the county may vote absentee. An Absentee Voting Board actually goes to the nursing home a few days before the election, sets up a small polling place and allows these persons to vote under circumstances similar to those at a regular precinct polling place. They may apply only by mail, by fax, by email, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot..
• Military personnel and residents of the county living overseas and the spouses and dependents of each group are eligible receive absentee ballots. These voters may apply only by mail, fax, or by email. Military personnel should contact the Voting Service Officers in their units for application forms and additional information or visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (www.fvap.gov/oklahoma) for more information and instructions. Residents of Oklahoma living overseas can obtain the same materials from any United States military installation and from United States Embassies and Consulates as well as on the FVAP website.
For more election related information, call the Okmulgee County Election Board at 918-756-2365 or the State Election Board website www.ok.gov/elections.
Voters are pretty convinced the moderators at the presidential debates helped Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that a plurality (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters believes most moderators will try to help Clinton in the upcoming debates. Only six percent (6%) think they will try to help Trump instead. Just 32% say most of the moderators will try to be unbiased, while 15% are undecided.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters who support Trump think the moderators will try to help Clinton. Most Clinton supporters (56%) say the moderators will try to be unbiased, but 20% say they’ll try to help their candidate. Twelve percent (12%) of Clinton voters think the moderators will try to help Trump, compared to just two percent (2%) of Trump supporters who feel that way.
Four years ago before the first debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, 71% of Republicans and 56% of unaffiliated voters said debate moderators are biased, but Democrats by a 47% to 30% margin felt they were not biased. In 2008 before the first debate, 22% felt the first moderator, veteran PBS newsman Jim Lehrer, would try to help Obama, while six percent (6%) expected him to help GOP nominee John McCain. Forty-three percent (43%) though Lehrer would play a neutral role.
This year's debates are potentially a breakaway moment for either Clinton or Trump who have been running neck-and-neck for weeks in Rasmussen Reports' White House Watch survey. Trump is ahead by five points in the latest survey, but it's too early to say if he is gaining any traction over his rival.
Following Monday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running virtually even in Rasmussen Reports’ first daily White House Watch survey.
Our latest national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Clinton with 42% support to Trump’s 41%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson earns seven percent (7%) of the vote, while Green Party nominee Jill Stein holds steady at two percent (2%). Three percent (3%) still like some other candidate, and five percent (5%) remain undecided.
Trump had been moving ahead over the two previous weeks and held a 44% to 39% lead over Clinton last week at this time. It was the first time he had been ahead since mid-July.
Eighty percent (80%) say they are sure which candidate they will vote for, and among these voters, Clinton and Trump are tied with 48% support each. Among voters who say they could still change their minds, it’s Clinton 34%, Trump 33%, Johnson 25% and Stein 8%.
Starting today, the White House Watch will update daily Monday through Friday at 8:30 am based on a three-day rolling average of 1,500 Likely U.S. Voters.
The survey of 1,500 Likely Voters was conducted on September 26-28, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
Forty-six percent (46%) of voters think Clinton is qualified to be president versus 35% who feel that way about Trump.
Clinton and Trump each have the support of 79% of the voters of their respective parties. Ten percent (10%) of Democrats favor Trump, while 13% of Republicans opt for Clinton.
Trump leads by 12 points among voters not affiliated with either major political party, but Johnson earns 15% support in this group. The Libertarian hopeful also picks up four percent (4%) of Republicans and two percent (2%) of Democrats. Stein gets six percent (6%) of the unaffiliated vote and remains in low single digits among the voters of the two major parties.
The GOP nominee has a nine-point advantage among men, while his Democratic rival posts an identical lead among women. Women voters are slightly more likely than men to be sure of their vote.
Clinton is still well ahead among voters under 40, although these voters are less certain of how they will vote than their elders are. Over 80% of those 40 and over are sure of their vote, and they prefer Trump by 10 points.
Trump remains ahead among whites. Clinton maintains her overwhelming lead among blacks and is still slightly ahead among other minority voters.
Fifty-one percent (51%) of all voters consider the Clinton-Trump debates more important than the presidential candidate debates in previous elections. But voters are also pretty convinced the debate moderators will be helping Clinton more than Trump.
Voters think taxes and government spending will increase under a Clinton presidency but are less certain what will happen if Trump is elected.
Citing rising murder rates in several major cities, Trump argues that police should be allowed to stop and frisk anyone on the street whom they consider suspicious. Clinton says that unfairly targets minorities. Voters are more supportive of stop and frisk laws but remain concerned that they may violate some Americans’ rights.
Voters think Clinton is more likely to side with the protestors in situations like the recent one in Charlotte, N.C., but strongly believe Trump is on the side of the cops.
Friday, October 14, 2016, is the last day to apply for voter registration in order to be eligible to vote in the November 8, 2016, General Election.
Persons who are United States citizens, residents of Oklahoma, and at least 18 years old may apply to become registered voters.
Those who aren’t registered or need to change their registration may apply in person at the Okmulgee County Election Board office or by filling out and mailing an Oklahoma Voter Registration Application form in time for it to be postmarked no later than midnight Friday, October 14th. Applications postmarked after that time will be accepted and processed, but not until after the November 8, 2016 election.
The County Election Board responds in writing to every person who submits an application for voter registration. The response is either a voter identification card listing the new voter's precinct number and polling place location or a letter that explains the reason or reasons the application for voter registration was not approved. Any person who has submitted a voter registration application and who has not received a response within 30 days should contact the County Election Board office.
Oklahoma Voter Registration Application forms are available at the County Election Board office located at 314 W. 7th Street, Room 102 of the Okmulgee County Courthouse, and at most post offices, tag agencies and public libraries in the county. Applications also are available at www.elections.ok.gov.
For more election related information, call the Okmulgee County Election Board at 918-756-2365 or the State Election Board website www.ok.gov/elections.
OKLAHOMA CITY – After a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order this week that will save the state millions of dollars by partially relieving state and local agencies from the burden of unlawful federal regulations.
The suit involves the FCC’s attempt to regulate the telephone rates charged to inmates for intrastate calls from prisons and county jails. Under federal law, however, the FCC can generally only regulate interstate calls. The FCC ignored this limitation on its authority, and last fall issued rate caps for in-state inmate calls that are far lower than the rates currently charged and that would cause state prisons and county jails to lose significant funds in providing inmates with telephone access. In setting the rates, the FCC ignored pleas from states and sheriffs to consider the fact that jails and prisons incur costs in providing these telephone services—including valuable time spent monitoring phone calls to prevent illicit activity and providing security while escorting prisoners to the phones.
At the request of Oklahoma sheriffs and the Department of Corrections, Attorney General Pruitt led a coalition of nine States and numerous sheriffs to file suit against the FCC’s in-state phone call price controls, arguing that the FCC acted unlawfully and arbitrarily ignored the costs of providing inmates with phone access. The federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. issued several preliminary decisions siding with Oklahoma and halting implementation of the FCC’s in-state rate caps.
After the Attorney General Pruitt filed his brief, laying out the arguments of the states and sheriffs, the FCC capitulated by releasing a new set of rate caps, which for the first time take into account the costs to jails and prisons in providing phone calls. Although these new caps are still unlawful, they are an improvement over the initial caps will result in millions in savings to the State and local sheriffs.
“We will continue to fight the price controls set by the FCC for in-state calls because they represent yet another unlawful federal intrusion into state authority,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “I am pleased to work with States and sheriffs from around the country and across party lines to vindicate state and local control over how we run and fund our jails and prisons. While the FCC’s newest action will lessen the devastating fiscal impact on state and local agencies if their rate caps ultimately upheld, their action remains unlawful. Without this suit, jails and prisons in Oklahoma would lose millions of already-scarce dollars, jeopardizing important inmate welfare programs, including substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and other rehabilitative services. It is a shame that it took a major lawsuit and several losses in Court for the FCC to even begin listening to the concerns of county jails and state prisons about the arbitrariness of their actions.”