That’s what is due to the many individuals and companies that have helped the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools provide $1 million worth of supplies to district teachers.
The foundation’s Teachers Warehouse eclipsed that milestone as the school year got under way a few weeks ago. From pencils and pens to notebooks and backpacks and much more, donors have provided a tremendous service to teachers who otherwise might have had to purchase those items themselves.
More than 5,000 orders have been filled by teachers in the four years since the warehouse opened.
“Oklahoma City can step up,” said Lori Dickinson, president of the nonprofit foundation. “It’s not just giving them a ream of paper. It’s giving a teacher a message of encouragement: ‘This is from the community. Your job’s important. What you’re doing is important.’” Kudos.
During the Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama and other Democrats repeatedly touted the federal bailout of General Motors as one of the president’s (few) economic successes. It appears General Motors officials don’t entirely agree and want to get out of their shotgun wedding with the federal government.
GM is pushing the Treasury Department to sell the government’s entire share of GM stock, which would translate into a loss of $15 billion for taxpayers. According to The Wall Street Journal, GM officials want to shed the stigma of being known as “government motors” and say the government’s shadow harms its reputation and makes it harder to recruit top talent because of pay restrictions.
Imagine that: This president’s greatest economic success could cost taxpayers billions and harms the company he “saved.” We wish we could say we’re surprised.
Citizens hope lawmakers’ votes are cast to set good policy, but lawmakers often simply respond to those complaining the loudest. That would be the case if legislators decide to mandate paper checks for tax refunds.
In a legislative study, state Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, decried the idea that banks can charge a fee for the use of debit cards — even though citizens can easily avoid fees. Ending paper checks for refunds saves the Oklahoma Tax Commission $500,000 annually. Citizens can choose direct deposit or a debit card. Faster service appeals to most Oklahomans, so 71 percent chose direct deposit this year.
Inman objects that 10 percent of Oklahomans don’t have bank accounts. But cardholders get a free transaction at any MasterCard member bank or credit union, and the cards can also be used in the MoneyPass network. A debit card recipient with no bank account can simply cash the refund in one transaction free of charge.
Yet Inman still wants the Tax Commission to offer citizens paper checks. Those without bank accounts get charged a fee for cashing a paper check as well, so it’s not clear how Inman’s solution does anything but increase taxpayer expense. Debit cards have been used for food stamps in Oklahoma for nearly two decades now without problem. What works for welfare recipients can work for tax refund recipients.
There’s no reason to increase taxpayer expenses $500,000 or more so that a fraction of people without bank accounts can evade an already avoidable fee.
President Barack Obama’s program to allow some illegal immigrants to remain and work legally in the United States isn’t drawing as many takers as expected.
The program, which applies to those younger than 30 who were typically brought here by their parents when they were children, has drawn just 40,000 applications out of an estimated 1.7 million eligible. It turns out that people who’ve violated immigration laws are hesitant to provide the government their names and locations without a guarantee they or their relatives won’t be deported.
Because the program was enacted through an executive order and not an act of Congress, and because a presidential election looms, Obama can’t make that promise.
We’ve noted Obama’s gesture was more about politics than actually resolving long-standing immigration problems. The response of those targeted by Obama’s program indicates many of them feel the same way.
In a number of (mostly rural) Oklahoma school districts, teachers are allowed to swat students on the backside with a paddle in an effort to discipline them. The law allowing corporal punishment has been on the books for years. We’re one of about 20 states that allows it.
Maybe it’s time to revisit that law. In Cordell, the mother of a 12-year-old boy says the teacher who paddled her son went too far.
The boy’s father gave the school his OK for the punishment, but the mother says the paddling left bruises that lasted three days. The district attorney looked into the woman’s complaints and found no wrongdoing. But given today’s sensitivity regarding treatment of children, allowing paddling would seem to invite trouble.
On the other hand, the tail wags the dog in too many Oklahoma classrooms. Even grabbing a disruptive student by the arm to escort him out of the room can result in a reprimand from the brass or a complaint from mom or dad. It’s a real conundrum.
An Edmond beauty salon owner and a former state Cosmetology Board investigator have been charged with bribery-related crimes.
Patricia Migliaccio, the investigator, allegedly requested a bribe to help Tina Thi Vo pass her state-mandated licensing test. Vo reportedly promised Migliaccio $4,000. Vo faces felony charges for offering a bribe, but Migliaccio faces only a misdemeanor for soliciting a bribe.
You would think government officials seeking bribes would face similar charges to those offering money. Those in a position of government power, even in a relatively low-key job like a Cosmetology Board investigator, should be held to a higher standard than the average citizen.
The difference in the seriousness of the two charges gives the appearance of favoring government officials who take bribes over those who offer them.
The Oklahoma Policy Institute tilts leftward when the discussion involves spending of taxpayer dollars. But two new online databases compiled by OK Policy play it down the middle.
One database contains state- and county-level statistics covering such things as median personal income, crime rates, high school graduation rates and median cost to rent a home.
“Anyone interested in reliable, easy-to-use state and local data can access it here,” the think tank says.
The other database offers county “fact sheets” that include access to key demographic, social and economic indicators.
Both sites are easy to navigate and loaded with helpful information. They can be found by clicking on the “Fact Sheets & Issue Briefs” tab at okpolicy.org.
In Chicago, a teachers’ strike is financially punishing students’ families and may even increase hunger in the area.
That’s because those families now have to find child care on short notice, something that’s not easy to do under the best of circumstances, and certainly not for the numerous low-income families in the Chicago district.
For many of the impacted children, school lunches are likely their best nutrition of the day. The district opened some sites for a half-day to feed children, but that created other logistical problems for many families.
Sadly, teachers union officials are likely pleased by the negative impact of a strike on students and their families since it creates pressure on the administration to cave to the union’s demands. As is often the case, the education establishment is putting the wants of adults ahead of the true needs of children.
Nearly a quarter of state voters are registered Democrats who don’t support Barack Obama. Keep this in mind when election results roll in Nov. 6. If Obama loses all 77 counties, as he did in 2008, it won’t be solely due to Republican voters.
Keep this in mind as well if the 2nd Congressional District seat switches from Democratic control (incumbent Dan Boren declined to run again) to GOP control. The district is a traditionally Democratic Party stronghold. And keep this in mind when viewing the continued popularity of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.
Sooner Survey reported last month that Fallin has a 70 percent approval rate among Oklahoma’s registered Democrats who dislike Obama. That’s higher than her overall rate. In Little Dixie, Fallin enjoys the support of 61 percent of voters.
The governor’s GOP national convention speech, largely drowned out by the networks covering the convention, gave Fallin a platform to extol Oklahoma values. She drew a sharp contrast between Obama’s central planning philosophy and the pioneers who settled this state using their own grit and determination.
For this, she was reminded by her critics in the sneering class that the federal government played a starring role in white settlement: It owned the land and provided policing services. So what? Washington didn’t clear the land, plow the fields, nurse the babies or can the vegetables. Yes, Mr. President, the settlers did that.
Their descendants, including a lot of Democrats, favor politicians who give respect where respect is due. Fallin does. Obama does not.