The recent death of a 7-month-old boy in Del City has a storyline that, sadly, is all too familiar in Oklahoma.
The boy had been badly beaten, with bruising to his abdominal area. X-rays showed separation to the bowel in the abdominal cavity. Paramedics said when they arrived to transport him to the hospital, the infant’s limbs had turned blue and he couldn’t lift his head.
Now facing a homicide complaint is the boy’s mother, who is 14 years old. The father? He’s 15. The girl told police she lost her temper and threw the baby into his crib.
Oklahoma’s high rates of teen pregnancies and unwed mothers contribute to any number of other social ills. This is an example of that to the nth degree.
Two Oklahoma City schools have made TheBestSchools.org’s list of the nation’s 50 best schools. One school cherry picks students. The other is a charter school.
Classen School of Advanced Studies and Harding Charter Preparatory High School both made the list. The website’s criteria for rankings include schools’ test scores, reputations with recruiting colleges, faculty quality and student satisfaction surveys.
Classen is a public, magnet high school. Students apply/audition and must pass that screening process to attend. At Harding, a charter school, TheBestSchools.org notes, “Despite Harding’s excellent reputation and rankings, there are no requirements as to which students can attend. There are no tuition fees or entry tests required.”
Uninformed critics like to claim charter schools’ achievements are based on “cherry picking” students. Harding’s success disproves that claim. And while both schools deserve praise, it’s worth noting that Classen, with its student-screening process, ranked 36th nationally. Harding ranked 23rd.
In pledging last year to give his $1.4 billion fortune to charity, Joseph Craft, head of Tulsa-based Alliance Resource Partners, said: “Opportunity presented by private enterprise and buttressed by a system of economic freedom allowed for my financial success. My hope is that this opportunity is available to anyone who choose to embrace it in America.”
That economic freedom is still there, but it’s slipping. The United States is now No. 10 in the world in the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual ranking compiled since 1995 by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. The United States was ninth last year, and has seen its economic freedom slip for five straight years.
The Heritage index considers countries’ rule of law, open markets, regulatory efficiency and limited government. The United States fared poorly in regulatory efficiency — gee, what a surprise under the Obama administration! — with declines in business freedom, monetary freedom and labor freedom. Increased government spending hurt our cause as well.
Heritage, a conservative think tank, said entrepreneurial growth in America “is stifled by ever-more-bloated government and a trend toward cronyism that erodes the rule of law.” Getting back toward the top of the economic freedom rankings will take significant policy reforms, “particularly in reducing size of government, overhauling the tax system, transforming costly entitlement programs and streamlining regulations.”
With Barack Obama in the Oval Office for another term, that climb is going to have to wait.
Many of the schools that comprise the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association have to be smiling this weekend. As the football finals and semifinals got under way, only one private school (Oklahoma Christian, in Class 2A) remained standing.
The OSSAA member schools voted a few years ago to punish private schools by requiring their teams to move up one class if they reach the final eight in any sport three out of five years. This stemmed largely from schools such as Heritage Hall and Bishop McGuinness in Oklahoma City winning state titles in football.
Proponents of the rule change said something needed to be done to counter the advantages private schools have by being able to control their enrollment. Those advantages never seemed to be an issue when those schools weren’t as successful.
Certainly Carl Albert’s football team didn’t seem to have any issue with those private school advantages last weekend when the Titans walloped McGuinness in the Class 5A semifinals. If they beat Tulsa East Central on Saturday night, the Titans will win their 11th state championship. Clinton is playing for its 16th state title on Saturday afternoon in Class 4A.
Outrage? There is none. Nor should there be. Carl Albert and Clinton have built tremendous programs. Success — of all kinds — should be applauded, not demonized. And so we say, congratulations and good luck!
A California bankruptcy case involving an American Indian enterprise could have repercussions in Oklahoma.
The Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino near San Diego is seeking to enter into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. American Indian tribes are considered sovereign nations and not included among entities that can file Chapter 11 under existing law, but they are not specifically excluded, either.
Case law is virtually nonexistent. A tribal enterprise in Minnesota filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008, but that business wasn’t located on tribal land. The mere possibility that tribal-owned businesses could file for bankruptcy has caused banks to restructure $1.7 billion in debt owed by tribes, according to a recent Fitch Ratings report.
In addition to non-gambling tribal businesses, there are well over 100 casinos in Oklahoma that are tribal-owned entities on Indian land, so the outcome of the California case could have ripple effects across the Sooner State.
The Del City Council said not just no, but heck no, this week to the idea of turning a church property into a halfway house.
Operators of the halfway house wanted to relocate from SE 51 and Interstate 35 to a Baptist church whose property is for sale. The church’s pastor was to serve as chaplain to the halfway house.
But the council on Monday voted 5-0 against the idea, in front of a full house in council chambers. The vote wasn’t a surprise. Previously the city’s planning commission had unanimously rejected the plan, after hearing from an overflow crowd that spoke against it.
“I’m sorry for the people who are incarcerated,” one longtime Del City resident said at the council meeting. “But a residential area is no place for a facility like that.” The question becomes, what area is?
As wildfires burned in Colorado Springs this week, Sam Porter waited for a call for help. Porter, head of the disaster relief ministry for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, is accustomed to such calls.
He oversees a program that trains church members — “anywhere from Boise City to Broken Bow, from Altus to Miami” — to help after disasters. His roster of volunteers stands at about 5,000.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army are easy to spot following disasters. Keeping a lower profile are Southern Baptists who do everything from cook meals to wash clothes to help flood victims remove mud from their homes.
An Oklahoma laundry team recently spent two weeks in Fort Collins, Colo., helping those affected by fires there. They work in a 32-foot trailer, built following Hurricane Katrina, that houses five washers and six dryers.
Porter expected he could be asked to help with meals in Colorado Springs. The Oklahoma BGC has 17 mobile kitchens. The largest can turn out 25,000 meals per day, with 35 to 40 people working; the other units can do 3,000 to 5,000 meals per day.
The entire operation is funded through offerings from the state’s 1,800 Southern Baptist churches. A former pastor, Porter said the ministry is a perfect outlet for many looking to contribute to the church in some way.
“Maybe they can’t sing. Maybe they can’t teach a Bible class,” he said. “But when they realize they can do something with their hands — running a chain saw or preparing food in a convection oven — they see they can make an eternal difference in someone’s life.” Amen.
Lawmakers refused to approve $42 million in bond financing to build a new office for the state medical examiner’s office this year, which would be a key step in helping the ME regain its national accreditation. If bond financing is so bad, why not simply pay for it? Since the office recently had to use refrigerator trucks to hold bodies after the agency’s 42-year-old freezer broke down, it’s clear the state can’t afford to dawdle much longer. Out of a $6.8 billion state budget, $42 million is drop in the bucket. It was recently announced $16 million was left on the table because of the collapse of this year’s tax-cut agreement. Why not earmark that money for the examiner’s office? Then lawmakers would have to come up with only $26 million more — a shift of just 0.3 percent of the total state budget.