The Blog for Oklahoma Forum
Oklahoma's weekly, statewide discussion program, Oklahoma Forum, provides civil, meaningful discussion of news and issues that impact citizens statewide. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Dick Pryor and produced by Emmy Award-winner Mickie Smith, Oklahoma Forum is more than sound bites and spin. It is purpose-driven television - seeking answers, providing insight – about life in Oklahoma and its people.
Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday April 2, 2009
(above: Host Dick Pryor with (l-r) Ginger Tinney, POE; Steven Crawford (CCOSA); Phyllis Hudecki (OBEC); and Roy Bishop (OEA)
Our guests this week on Oklahoma Forum discussed the pros and cons of two of the education reform bills moving through the legislature, SB 1111 and SB 834. These bills have led to some interesting alliances, and dynamic debate.
SB 834 passed out of a house committee on Wednesday by a vote of 9-5. It would deregulate schools (starting with 20% of them in 2011-12 and adding more schools each year until all schools fall under the act in five years). According to its supporters in the House, SB 834 (establishing the “School District Empowerment Program") would give local school districts more control over the governing of their districts by allowing them to act more like charter schools by allowing school districts to decide which state mandates to implement.
Opponents argue allowing school districts to opt-out of mandates will undo many of the educational requirements that have been imposed by the state, including rolling back many of the reforms enacted in the landmark HB 1017 about 20 years ago.
OEA (Oklahoma Education Association) and POE (Professional Oklahoma Educators) are opposed to the bill, while CCOSA (Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration) and OBEC (Oklahoma Business & Education Coalition) support the bill.
The other bill we discussed, SB 1111, passed 12-3 out of committee this morning, shortly before our taping. Senate Bill 1111, the Educational Accountability Reform Act, moves accountability and the determination of adequate yearly progress, cut scores, the school testing program and the state student record system from the State Department of Education to the Education Quality and Accountability Office, and creates a new entity, the Education Oversight Board to manage testing and school data collection and analysis. OEA, POE and OBEC support the bill, while CCOSA opposes it.
It’s always the sign of a good program when the participants stick around when it’s over to talk some more. I’d love to see some agreements reached as a result of our program. That didn’t happen today, but it was a great panel and we talked about convening again to tackle more education issues later. We are planning on bringing elected officials to the table before long to get their take on this new education legislation and ideas for improving student achievement.
Watch on Sunday at 1:00. It’s a lively show. Send us a comment!
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Monday March 30, 2009
Our State Capitol Reporters Roundtable brought some interesting issues to light on Sunday. Lawmakers have been waiting to hear more about the federal economic stimulus package and its requirements before getting in deep on the state budget and appropriations, but look for that to change.
Michael McNutt of The Oklahoman pointed out that time is starting to be an issue, and the appropriation process can’t wait much longer. Look for some action there this week. Also, having missed their self-imposed April 1 deadline for funding education first every year except one since the bill passed, there may be some pressure to move faster this year.
All four panelists weighed in on the recent controversy regarding Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee. Each thinks he will survive his federal tax lien and late traffic ticket payments because he is generally well-liked by his party caucus and others at the capitol. Janice, Scott, Michael and Michael also pointed out that there is jostling for power going on at the capitol and that will bear watching down the homestretch.
Do you have any thoughts about the show, or what we talked about? Let us know. We like hearing from you.
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Friday March 20, 2009
We had a little different kind of program this week on Oklahoma Forum. Not legislators or other elected officials; not leaders of agencies or organizations; not authors, academics or experts in their professions. This week, we had three real people, grassroots experts whose expertise comes from their own experiences…with autism.
Shannon Roberson and Chris and Melissa Ackerson told their stories about living with autism. Each has a child with autism (Shannon actually has two). They discussed the disorder and how it has affected their lives.
Melissa told me that she and Chris had debated about having more children, since autism sometimes runs in families. The Ackersons didn’t give in to fear, and recently had a second child, a girl. There’s a good chance she will not have autism, since girls are affected much less often than boys, but they probably won’t know for sure for another 2-3 years. The age of 3 is normally when an autism diagnosis can be made, after watching how the child relates to other people in social settings and doing other diagnostic testing.
They also discussed treatment, which is performed by people like Shannon, and how that can be effective in helping those with autism learn how to manage the disorder, attend mainstream classes and have a productive life as an adult.
This is an important program, since this autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s) are a growing national health concern. I hope you will tell your friends and watch the program, as we talk about, in very human terms, the reality of living with autism.
Until next time,
Written by Dick Pryor on Friday March 13, 2009
Welcome to The Sheet, Oklahoma Forum’s new blog. The first show is done, and ready to air on Sunday, March 15 at 1:00 p.m. The guests are Norma Noble, Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Workforce Development; Roger Beverage, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bankers Association; and Larry Grillot, Dean of the Mewbourne College of Earth & Energy at the University of Oklahoma.
It’s a fast-paced discussion about the economic crisis facing our country, and the effect it’s having on our state. The good news is that Oklahoma is in better shape than most other states. The bad news is we are not immune.
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