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Showing posts from July, 2020

Is Education No Longer the Primary Mission of Our Public Schools?

Did you know that the state of Oklahoma is currently experiencing not one, but two pandemics? Until yesterday, neither did I. According to the Oklahoma City School District, the state is currently experiencing the “dual pandemics of COVID-19 and Systemic Racism,” and has decided to spend valuable time and resources to ensure that their teachers learn how to “practice alternative ways of relating to…[their]students.” In the meantime, teachers are supposed to conduct their classes online   into November. Unfortunately, if the District doesn’t adequately prepare their teachers to use the available online learning platforms, it won’t matter how woke they are, they won’t be interacting with their students at all.   At this point, we really have no idea what the school year will look like, and school districts have given little basis for optimism that students will actually learn anything. Oklahoma City public schools closed in March and “went online.” However, due to lack of sufficient tec

Corporate Welfare is not OK

Largely buried under the constant barrage of COVID-19 news and the baffling decision by the Supreme Court to declare half of Oklahoma "Indian Country," was Oklahoma’s and Tulsa’s attempt to bribe Tesla to locate a new facility in that city. Tesla chose Austin, Texas instead, a decision Tesla likely made months ago, but for the opportunity Oklahoma's bid provided for milking as much as possible in concessions (bribery) from Austin. Thus, it may well be a blessing in disguise that Tesla chose Austin over Tulsa. After all, Oklahomans aren't on the hook to pay off a big corporation that is perfectly capable of financially taking care of itself. What's more, consider what might have happened if the deal had been made and ground had been broken before the McGirt decision. Tesla likely would have had to pull out of the deal, and might well have sued the state for bad faith negotiating, which have reflected poorly on Tulsa and Oklahoma.   One study estimates corporations

Who Speaks for Oklahoma? Setting the Scene for Coming Tribal Negotiations

The situation in Oklahoma is fluid after the Supreme Court’s consequential decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma . There are many moving parts. Independent state officials apparently have different goals and motivations, and legal uncertainty abounds. Against this background, it can be difficult to track what is going on and to sort through leaders’ public statements and actions. Let’s cut through some of the clutter. First, a brief recap: a monster everyone agrees is guilty as sin had his conviction for raping and forcibly sodomizing his wife’s 4 year old granddaughter overturned by the US Supreme Court. In so doing, a slim 5-4 majority on the Court ruled that the Muscogee (Creek) reservation, encompassing nearly all of the City of Tulsa, is still in existence because the US Congress never formally “disestablished” the reservation when it admitted the State of Oklahoma into the Union more than 100 years ago. As a result, Oklahoma no longer has jurisdiction to prosecute a slew of serious crim

Undo 802

Why is it that when conservatives suffer a major loss, they give up, accept the new status quo, and fall back to the next retreat position? When progressives suffer a major loss, they regroup and try again. And again. Until they finally wheedle the American public into giving in. I propose a change in strategy. The Oklahoma Legislature should make undoing State Question 802 its top legislative priority for 2021. This will not be an easy task (legislators seem to prefer avoiding difficult tasks) but it is a critical one. The normal legislative process, with all its pitfalls and traps for the unwary, will only bring the topic to another vote of the people. So why spend so much political capital and effort if the same result is possible? Three reasons.   First is the disastrous consequences of the policy. Forget that it enriches already-rich hospital and pharmaceutical executives. Forget that it gives the state incentives to prioritize the nearly-poor covered by expansion over the des

How to Be Number One in Government Transparency

A 2020 HBO movie entitled Bad Education , starring Hugh Jackman, tells the story of Frank Tassone, a real-life superintendent of the Roslyn, New York school district who along with an accomplice, it was discovered in 2004, stole an overall total of $11.2 million in district funds. It ’ s been called the “ largest public school embezzlement in U.S. history.” It should be called the “ largest public school embezzlement ever discovered in U.S. history” because there is no way to be sure that a worse theft has not occurred. The theft would never have been discovered had Tassone ’ s partner in crime, Pamela Gluckin, not had her son buy $83,000 in home remodeling supplies on the school ’ s credit card. But for alert Home Depot employees, Gluckin and Tassone likely would have gotten away with their theft, carried out over years, to this day. The movie ’ s dramatization of a student reporter digging into filed receipts and investigating suspicious (fake) vendors likely reflects the hard wo

Oklahoma Leaders Should Demand Congress Fix the Supreme Court’s Mess, Not Rush to Strike a Deal with the Tribes

Five lawyers in Washington, D.C. have announced that many of us have been living on Indian reservations all this time, we just didn’t know it. In response, several of our elected state leaders have made noises indicating they are in the process of giving away the store in resulting negotiations with tribal leaders, apparently driven by defeatism and panic. They should get off this losing course, and instead demand that the one body that can fix this mess do so: Congress. First, how we got here. Jimcy McGirt, a revolting human being who was convicted of molesting, raping, and forcibly sodomizing his wife’s four-year-old granddaughter, has been justly rotting away in a cage for some 20 years as part of the 1,000-years-plus-life-in-prison sentence he was mercifully handed by an Oklahoma jury in 1997. McGirt came up with a clever legal theory, though. He claimed the State of Oklahoma never had jurisdiction to prosecute him because he is Indian and his crimes were committed on Creek reserv