42nd Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

November 13th, 2014

As a U.S. Army veteran and having served in the 25th Infantry Division from 1959 to 1962, I was honored to speak at the annual Veterans Day event in Stigler. My talk was focused on the contribution made by those who have and are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces as a means of preserving democracy which our citizens often take for granted but fail to participate in the process of selecting our leaders. Evidence of this is found in the voter statistics in our state. First, there are 2.3 million Oklahoma citizens who are eligible to vote. In the November 4th election this year only 800,000 actually voted. That means that only 34 percent of those registered went to the polls, leaving 66 percent who chose not to go vote. Wow!! Then this embarrassing fact is swept under the proverbial rug with the meaningless statement to a veteran “thank you for your service.” My response is “I and others have or are serving so that you could cast your vote and I must ask: is this service in vain? Arnold Hamilton captures this thought in his Guest COLUMN in The Journal Record when he describes our state as a military hub. However, he concludes the following: “How can we look our uniformed personnel and veterans in the eye and tell them we don’t care enough to exercise a sacred right that they defend with their lives.”
As this Journal will be published in the third week of November, it should contain information from the October’s Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Commission (TLE) meeting. However, the State Department of Education leadership notified all members that this meeting was cancelled. That is disturbing in that we were scheduled to hear results from the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) focus group studies on proposals for the TLE to consider making formal proposals to the State Board of Education for their November meeting. The Board is under the gun to make decisions on the 35 percent of the Teacher Evaluation during their November meeting. Page 20 of the TLE Update: Step Back 10,000-foot Review by former Assistant State Superintendent, Dr. Kerri White, presented to the Commission in August of this year the following: “The intention of the OSDE is to compile any recommendations for the TLE System by November in order to provide ample time for public feedback prior to the legislative session and final semester of the pilot process.”
How can the Board make this mandated recommendation without the required input from the Commission? Was Dr. White just kidding with the above documented mandate? Why did the critical October Commission meeting get canceled? Perhaps, deadlines are not applicable to the OSDE!! However, our schools are being held accountable for creating the baseline data for the 50 percent quantifiable portion of the teacher evaluation during the 2014/15 school year. How can they do this when the Commission and the State Board has failed to identify the Student Learner Outcomes (SLO) as mandated by SB 2033 and HB 456? What will our school administrators use for data in this portion of Student Academic Growth without this decision being made by the Board? My next Journal debate will describe how our neighboring state, Missouri resolved this problem—stay tuned.
The last interim study that I participated in was focused on how we effectively prepare our students for a smooth transition into college and career productive participation. This was conducted in joint meeting of the Higher Education/Career Tech and Common Education. The presentations were coordinated by the Cooperative Council of School Administrators (CCOSA) and the first focus was on Oklahoma’s historical connection with the ACT assessment programs. This material was presented by Dr. Sonoble, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. He documented our involvement with this assessment form going back as far as 1959 with an intense focus on measuring and predicting future success of students taking this series of tests. The program currently has expanded from the 8th grade Explore, 10th grade Plan and 11th grade ACT to the ACT ASPIRE which provides assessment tools from the 3rd grade through 12th. It is well documented that the ACT is the only agency that can give data based on predictability of academic success for our students. We are presently spending millions of state dollars on tests that do not correlated or predict futures success potential of our students. The committee heard testimony that we should never accept any one assessment tool as a means of determining the status of a high school graduate’s placement in high education. It was recommended that we use Grade Point Average and Class Rank in combination with the ACT results.

If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Connie Riley, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

41st Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

November 6th, 2014

As this edition is released on the day after the 2014 General Election, I would like to present a brief summary and reflections as to the election results in our area of the state and the state as a whole. While I am grateful for the re-election victories of some of my neighboring House members, it was shocking to witness the overwhelming successes of those attacking the integrity of Democrats committed to serving all of the citizens of their prospective districts. I suppose that one can conclude that the Republicans had the most effective message by attacking the President of the United States. I sometimes feel that with only 10 percent of our citizens having ever served in the U.S. military there is no inclination for politicians to recognize the President as the Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Instead it is easier to label this person as the number one enemy of the State of Oklahoma as a means of gaining the political advantage over a local opponent who has absolutely no connection to the President, other than belonging to the same political party. Perhaps we are experiencing what our Founding Fathers attempted to achieve when they classified “political parties” as “factions” that should have no basis in the selection process of our governmental leaders.
The October meeting of the Eufaula Area Chamber of Commerce was particularly relevant to the citizens of the entire area of House District 15. Specifically, the guest speaker was Adam Bourne with Workforce Oklahoma whose presentation brought the attention of those present to the diverse services that this agency provides. I was especially impressed with the work they do with youth who are members of families with limited financial resources. In these cases, they offer career consultation, exploration and counseling. In addition, they provide veterans services, GED testing and transition assistance for those convicted felons who have completed their sentenced incarceration.
As the interim period winds to a halt, the House had a final Public Safety interim study conducted by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, titled “Smart on Crime.” While the focus of this study dealt with the causes of increasing crime rates and possible corrective measures, we were also made aware of the extreme cost of controlling the continued escalation of this problem. Commissioner Terri White of the Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse informed the Committee members that our state has the highest recorded evidence of mental illness and drug addiction in the nation. This particular group creates the greatest financial drain on our corrections system. While incarcerated, they will demand greater oversight and have less probability of transitioning back into the communities as a productive citizen than the rest of the prison population. It was documented that over one-half of those in prison are on some form of medication for mental illness.
On a more positive note, former House Speaker, Kris Steele presented data showing that our Department of Corrections facilities were operating at 105 percent of capacity and that our state is number 1 in the national percent of population of women being in prison and 4th in males incarcerated per percent of population. He was adamant that what we are doing is not working. Speaker Steele introduced us to a inter faith 501 C3 nonprofit program focused on The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM). Its priorities in working with incarcerated or recently released youth are in job training and placement assistance. In answering a question on the role of local county jails that are compatible with Department of Corrections (DOC) standards, he referred me to a study completed for the Governor by Adam Luck who did research for the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This is classified as “Criminal Justice Reform in Oklahoma” and addresses my question with two recommendations. First, he proposes moving the intermediate parole revocation hearings to the community corrections level to alleviate pressure for bed space at the DOC prison level. This would provide an important function for undermanned county facilities. Secondly, his proposal is to incentivize county level changes which results in lowering incarceration rates in county facilities. This is designed to financially help counties maintain their jails after the state-wide reforms resulted in a lower inmate population in county jails. My main concern in this study was to find solutions to the issue of the state’s role in decreased funding of local jails that are being maintained at DOC standards. I plan to file legislation which would require that no state prisoner be allowed to be assigned either to a private facility or be transferred to an out of state prison unless our state and county facilities are operating at 75 percent of capacity. If this is heard and passed, it will insure adequate funding for our county and state correctional facilities.

40th Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

October 30th, 2014

To follow-up on a previous Journal Entry (37th), there was a report that there was a recent “human trafficking” bust in Bogota, Colombia by combined U.S. and Colombian law enforcement officials. They rescued 55 youth, with the youngest being 11 years old who was sold to a U.S. citizen for $1,000. Their anticipated destination was the I 40-35-44 corridor, which would have placed them in various areas of Oklahoma. As was reported in our House Public Safety Committee Interim Study, this issue is becoming a crisis for national, state, and local law enforcement.
Back on the education scene, let us focus on the recent revelation by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This report indicates that our current per pupil funding is 23 percent below the 2008 level. This indicates that the state is providing our schools with $857 less per student funding today than it was six years ago. Part of the problem is that we have not provided increased funding as our student numbers increased. To put this in agricultural terms, it would be like increasing your cow/calf operation by 40 head but not increasing the budget for forage, feed, or other needed operational costs. You would anticipate this rancher to go out of business in a matter of years in that his/her replacement calf crops would be reduced proportionately to maintenance needs of the operation. Another aspect of our funding for our schools came to my attention during a Common Education Interim Study where we were presented budgeting data concerning the funding for our Statewide Virtual Charter school program. The current funding for this non-brick and mortar schools is $38.5 million which constitutes a significant percentage of state funding for our schools. This is provided for many students who were not previously part of the public school program. We received documentation that these students are funded at a formula weight of 1.55 while the regular students are funded at a 1.33 weight. It is a bit ironic that we would provide per student funding for these programs that do not require specific infrastructure for its students. This is another attempt by our current state leaders at undermining the public schools that moved us into the 21st century and provided an educated population that made the U.S. a leader of the free world. Putting all of this together, we should consider them when going to the ballot box on November 4.
As a result of education interim studies, it appears that we may be starting to reflect on the direction of testing that has driven student/teacher/site and district assessment the last several years. Former Representative Corey Holland, R-Marlow, offered reflective insight to the Education Committee that is the result of his leaving the legislative setting and re-entering the role of high school principal. What he has found is that a great deal of our state mandated testing does not measure a student’s preparedness to move to the next level of curriculum standards. Instead, it is merely providing data to assess the achievement of the student within one isolated course. It is not rocket science to establish testing programs that identifies the student’s readiness to move to the next level of rigor and/or content in a given subject area.
In addition, our testing is supposed to measure what has been referred to as a student being prepared for college/career/citizenship status at the next level. We claim to be testing citizenship skills as a focus in our social studies curriculum. However, when we look at the data provided by the 2013 Report of the Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge, we find that our Oklahoma students at 18-29 had the lowest percentage of voting (27%) during a presidential election year. In addition, we find that 11 states that mandate testing for civics and history in high school also had lower voting percentages in this election. I am not saying that we should not teach and hold students accountable in these areas but that we should design testing that will show a connection to the next level of activity in this area of study. This may have provided the basis for Senator Ford, R-Bartlesville, to call for a change of state mandated testing from End of Instruction exams for math and English to the ACT test which is correlated to the current Priority Academic Student Standards that the State Board of Regents of Higher Education has just approved as College and Career Ready. I am pleased to read that the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Ford, has dismissed the political spins that have been taken claiming that ACT is directly correlated to the Common Core Standards by the fanatics in the legislature who wanted only “state” standards. Hooray for common sense being demonstrated by this Senate leader!!! Does this indicate that rationality will become a priority in our state government?
If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

39th Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

October 23rd, 2014

During the legislative interim period while we are not in Session, I have been impressed by some of the studies we have had conducted by our House Public Safety Committee. There is one in particular I would like to share with you. The topic was based on legislation that was filed last year but did not gain needed support to move on to the Senate. Specifically, this issue concerns at what point in a criminal process can DNA be taken from an individual and filed as evidence in the nationally maintained Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. The controversy in this matter is when this can take place relative to the state prescribed criminal procedure. Currently 28 states allow this to occur upon a felony arrest of an individual. Of these, 13 require that the arrest be based on a perceived “aggravated” felonious act and 3 must be based on evidence of rape or murder. Oklahoma does not allow this to take place until the arrested person is convicted of a felony. Recently, our state added 18 misdemeanors that, upon conviction, DNA can be taken from a convicted person.
The testimony that we heard was directed to advocate that Oklahoma change its laws to join the 28 states that allow DNA to be taken from an arrested person and placed in CODIS and the OSBI statistical data bank. The author of this study, Rep. Denny, R-Cushing, had five witnesses testify before the Committee on this matter. One was a parent from New Mexico whose daughter was brutally raped and murdered by a person who had previously been arrested numerous times but was not convicted until years later when DNA was taken. Had the state allowed this person’s DNA to have been collected upon arrest, it is very likely that her daughter’s death could have been avoided since the person that was eventually convicted of other crimes would have been convicted prior to his attack on her daughter. This person also testified that one man was arrested 21 times over 15 years but not convicted of any crime that required taking a DNA sample. It was later proven that his DNA was found on a dozen women who were raped and murdered. Had the law been that his DNA could be taken upon arrest, this mother’s daughter would still be alive. This very emotional case got all members attention, but there is concern that is expressed concerning privacy rights of those who are arrested but not yet convicted in a court of law. The mother stated that to her, and the rest of society, is that “DNA is the finger print of the 21st Century.” The point that she was making is that finger printing is not seen as an invasive violation of anyone’s rights in today’s world and a saliva swab from a person arrested for a perceived felonious act is not an invasion of a person’s rights. This is especially critical in cases where the crime for which the person is charged is the result of what may be classified as “aggravated felonious actions such as sexual or physical attacks on the victim.”
Some opposition to this proposed legislation was based on the potential for the “planting” of DNA evidence, possible errors in the processing of this evidence, or the difficulty in removing, or expungement of this data from state and national records when a person is found innocent or released due to the lack of collaborating evidence. It was argued that the collection of and documenting this evidence is subject to human error and when this occurs individual rights are very much in jeopardy. As a result of these concerns, some would call for this process to be allowed only after the person has been ordered to stand trial by an assigned judge.
We were brought up-to-date on Oklahoma’s existing statutes on this matter by Andrea Swiech, Division Director of Criminalistics with the OSBI. She stated that OSBI and CODIS is “intended to detect or exclude individuals who are subjects of the investigation or prosecution of sex-related crimes, violent crimes, or other offenses in which biological evidence is recovered. The statue prohibits its use for any other purpose.” Additionally, we were informed that in June of last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that taking DNA samples is comparable to taking fingerprints when people were booked for crimes and, as such, is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday

38th Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

October 23rd, 2014

As indicated in my last Journal, this week’s focus will be the continuation of the House Common Education Committee interim study on After Common Core—What Next? Each of the presenters was compelling in their approach and data that will cause every citizen in our state to pause and consider what our schools will experience in this time of total educational turmoil. I would like to start with Dr. Janet Dunlop, Broken Arrow Public Schools’ Assistant Superintendent of Instructional services. In a very detailed presentation, she explained the multi-layered tasks that her school must experience as new state curriculum standards are created. Even to an experienced educator who has served in the classroom, administration and local school board, Dr. Dunlop’s in-depth analysis of “what happens when you have to unpack the new standards” was absolutely overwhelming. To merely summarize some of her presentation, it becomes necessary to benchmark each content area of the curriculum with age appropriate “scaffolding” of skill expectations. In other words, there must be effective sequencing of instruction for these new standards. After this is completed, the school must be prepared to implement effective assessment and potential remediation for each level of the “academic scaffold” that has been built. It was in this area that the Committee was presented with a very insightful recommendation for five different forms of assessment tools which will provide effective measurement of student progress in the areas of college preparation, workforce employment and even military service. It was concluded that we must move away from the current single vision focus on state mandated testing tools. In fact there was strong agreement in the Committee when asked to consider legislation that would remove any state mandated testing for the 2014/15 school year in light of our not having a company to act as a test vendor, loss of the No Child Left Behind Waiver, and the passage of HB 3399 forbidding schools to use Common Core Standards with no existing curriculum standards following three years of work on new standards. Dr. Dunlop made a very powerful point when she stated that Oklahoma is in a state of absolute turmoil as to providing any form of leadership for all the school districts of the state. In such state of confusion, it is time to stop plunging foolishly ahead into a dangerous environment where our state’s students may very well be educationally harmed by this lack of leadership.
Other presenters established the same basic theme that there is a breakdown of trust and confidence between the local district and state mandates and oversight. The former interim superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools identified the existence of a unbridged gulf of trust due to the local districts being denied any autonomy in the academic standards process. Collaborating the thoughts of Dr. Dunlop, Charlotte Oates, principal of MacArthur High School in Lawton offered examples of numerous state mandated changes that students, teachers, and administrators must adapt to without any flexibility in the implementation of these changing standards. Ms. Oates indicated that her school was combining the Common Core and Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) as means of making their curriculum college and career ready as is the verbalized goal of all state leaders. When I asked about HB 3399 which mandates the exclusion of Common Core Standards, she stated the following. “I ignore it! It’s a ridiculous rule! The standards are good.” She explained that all Common Core does is give schools a framework. She also shared with us that her advice to teachers is that without Common Core they must use common sense to adapt until there is some level of predictability in our legislature and State Department of Education. The final question mark was posed by Chancellor Glen Johnson, who stated that the State Regents of Higher Education would soon be making the decision if PASS will be seen as truly “College and Career Ready” as HB 3399 mandates. If they decide that it is not, then all of public school districts will be back to the drawing boards.
If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me, please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov, home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7624 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday