Online learning is on the rise, although it faces resistance from some quarters. The Internet has opened doors few knew existed just a few years ago; failure to develop the market won’t protect the old system.
For example, Virginia has become the go-to place to obtain a concealed-carry permit through online courses. Virginia doesn’t require in-person firearm training — only passing a written test and criminal background check.
Because 26 states have reciprocity agreements with Virginia, citizens from states with more stringent requirements are taking Virginia-based online courses to obtain a permit that will be honored in their home state.
As that shows, the Internet provides consumers greater choice and the ability to go outside traditional channels. In the same fashion, Oklahomans are soon going to obtain K-12 education online. The only question is if Oklahoma will be on the front edge of that change.
Consumers facing higher prices at the pump are also facing higher prices at the grocery story. Beef prices are up 6 percent over last year, and even higher prices are likely in the future.
After 2011′s drought, the national cattle herd was reduced to its lowest level in 60 years. This year’s drought is further reducing herd size. Even if the coming year brings plentiful rain, it may take several years to rebuild herds and increase supply and consumer prices will remain higher.
President Barack Obama’s arbitrary restrictions on oil and gas exploration are partly to blame for higher fuel prices, but it’s harder to make the case that he’s to blame for beef prices.
Of course, Obama did promise to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. So if we take him at his word, maybe he does deserve blame for the weather.
The experts at the National Weather Service can tell you all you’d ever want to know about the science of tornadoes. But they’re interested in learning what average citizens know about twisters.
Three town hall meetings are being held (the first is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Norman Public Library) to let residents do the talking.
“This might be the first time meteorologists have really tried to learn about other ways of thinking about tornadoes from local people,” said Kim Klockow, with the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences.
Klockow said her colleagues are finding that what local people believe about twisters can influence how they react to them, as much or more than what forecasters provide.
“We know a lot about the weather, but we know much less about the beliefs or local knowledge of the local people who are experiencing it,” Klockow said.
It’s an interesting concept. Folks in Moore and Newcastle will want to mark their calendars. Town halls also are planned Sept. 20 in Moore and Oct. 4 in Newcastle, with locations and times to be determined.
Oklahoma voters should be encouraged by the state Election Board secretary’s latest review of our new system.
The state is breaking in new machines that are an upgrade of the optical scanning machines that worked superbly for two decades. There have been a few small hiccups along the way, but Secretary Paul Ziriax says those have been addressed.
With the Aug. 28 primary runoff elections, there were no problems in reporting results on the state’s website. A computer glitch in the June primary election led to incomplete results being labeled as complete results. The third-party vendor responsible for displaying the results was subsequently fired, and the Election Board’s staff developed a different procedure.
Now county-level results are available online, along with state-level races. The new system “worked fantastically,” Ziriax says. “It was accurate, it was fast.” Good news as the Nov. 6 general election approaches.
We’ve noted that Oklahoma’s liquor laws are overly complex and impede the free market. Defenders of the current system may take heart in the results of Washington state’s privatization of the liquor market. That would be a mistake.
Previously, the state of Washington owned liquor stores; nongovernmental sellers could only provide wine or beer. State voters recently approved a measure to privatize the industry. The number of retail outlets surged from 328 to more than 1,500.
You would expect that to lower costs to consumers, but liquor prices rose 17 percent. The reason for the increase wasn’t a bizarre side effect of greater competition, but significant taxes of 10 percent and 17 percent imposed on distributors and retailers, respectively.
Just as excessive regulation can reduce competition and drive up prices, excessive taxes can undermine the benefits of competition and punish consumers.
For a quarter of a century, Mary Gilmore Caffrey has made the Tree Bank Foundation her branch office. Pun intended.
Caffrey has announced her retirement as the foundation’s executive director, effective Sept. 30. She’s overseen the planting of more than 200,000 trees on public grounds in Oklahoma and the distribution of more than 108,000 seedlings for others to plant.
Concurrent with her retirement, the Tree Bank Foundation is celebrating 25 years of adding trees to the landscape, trees valued collectively (at maturation) at nearly $250 million.
The foundation was started in 1987 and seeded by volunteers dedicated to planting and distributing trees. It joined with Oklahoma Forestry Services for the Centennial Witness Trees program that was part of Oklahoma’s 100th birthday celebration in 2007. More recent projects include the planting of native tree species at Oklahoma City University and a reforestation project in Atoka County following the April 2011 tornado outbreak there.
Chances are you saw a Tree Bank tree growing somewhere along your route to work or school this week. Recipients of Tree Bank plants don’t just get the trees. They also get instructions on how to care for them.
Trees are not only nice to look at. They provide shade and reduce air pollution. So we congratulate Caffrey and an organization with a lot of bark that’s taken a big bite out of a tree-challenged landscape.