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

37th Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

October 9th, 2014

During the years that I have served as a state legislator, I have been committed to keeping you informed of the studies being done by those House Committees on which I serve. The first of these Interim Studies was conducted by the House Public Safety Committee dealing with a very disturbing issue: Human (Child) Trafficking. One of the key presenters was Darrell Weaver, Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. We were informed that there is a direct link between drug trade activities and human trafficking. The latter of these is primarily focused on children, initially ages 10 to 15, being coerced into sex trade. These youth are most likely vulnerable kids with histories of abuse and are enticed into this activity though fraud, deception, force and other means of coercion. Another presenter, Kirsten Havig, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Social Work, testified that the United States has become the top destination for sex tourism in the world. In part, Oklahoma has become a hub for this sex trafficking because of our state having major national transportation routes including Interstate Highways 35, 40 and 44. She went on to inform us that 30 percent of youths housed in shelters and 70 percent of homeless youths are victimized by human traffickers. Two statistics that were especially shocking included the data that shows sex trafficking in Oklahoma currently exceeds drug trafficking in terms of total dollars generated. When I have shared this shocking fact, most people find that it is hard to believe. I agree, but from the testimony that was presented, it is a reality that we must make efforts to make inroads into this vile activity. Secondly, statistics show that the U.S. leads the world in this so-called business that is estimated to generate almost $28 billion for forced commercial sexual exploitation. Director Weaver added that new laws that go into effect this year will require people convicted of human trafficking to register as sex offenders and serve 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole.
The Common Education Committee conducted an Interim Study to analyze public education funding. While we hear state leaders proclaim that we are increasing funding for K-12 education, the reality was documented that the per-pupil funding that goes directly to the classroom has decreased. State Rep. Joe Dorman testified that this needs to be corrected with a revenue increase of $200 million. Steven Crawford, the executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators, stated that schools have $159.4 million less funding than they did five years ago in 2009. It was documented that based on the weighted formula, Oklahoma is providing $194.20 less per student. Shawn Hime, the executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, stated, “the best education reform strategy that Oklahoma can pursue is to enact short-and long-term strategies to make sure every student has a high-quality teacher. If the teacher shortage continues to grow, it will undermine every other effort we might make as a state to improve student achievement.” This study provided an abundance of evidence that our state leaders must quit spinning false statements that we have increased “per-pupil” funding and are “committed to improving the student learning environment.” Such misinformation is counter productive to the goals that we hold to be dear to our state.
Another portion of a Common Education Interim Study which created considerable controversy dealt with the first phase of After Common Core—What Next? when Rep. Brumbaugh, R.-Broken Arrow advocated against Common Core testing based on his children’s experience in private school in which they are enrolled. In that setting, teachers and students are merely held accountable based on individual course pre- and post-testing. He held that the only legitimate state and/or national testing data is the ACT. He went on to state that his children’s private school’s high school graduates average an impressive score of 25 out of 36 on this nationally based test. There are those who feel that comparing private schools’ curriculum mandates with their selective student enrollment versus those of public schools which are required by law to enroll any child that lives within its site or district boundary is counterproductive and misleading at best. This study did conclude that there does need to be a serious focus on early intervention in the areas of literacy and math for students who fail to show an adequate age/grade level status or improvement. It was also pointed out that schools should have a curriculum that emphasizes problem solving. In my next Journal I will place this within the total context of this multi-level interim study.
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

36th Journal Entry of the 2nd Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

October 2nd, 2014

As House District 15 Representative, it was both a pleasure and honor for this District to host the 50th Anniversary of Eufaula Dam dedication. The organizing and implementing of this event was in the very capable hands of Eufaula Middle School Principal, Chris Whelan, and Lake Eufaula Association Director, Connie Morris, and her assistant Emily Rodebush. This was made special by several neighboring schools visiting with their bands and choral groups. The students from these and other schools made up almost half of the audience. Their focused attention during the entire program speaks highly of their respect for and desire to be part of this historic event. Their parents, teachers, and administrators should take great pride in them. The Choctaw Honor Guard was present to post the Colors and the Cherokee Jr. Miss entertained the 1200 plus audience with her vocal presentation in both her native Cherokee and English. There were numerous speakers, but former Attorney General Drew Edmondson captured the historical essence of the occasion with his reflections of the setting that helped shape our state beginning some fifty years ago.
As indicated in Journal Thirty-five, I would address a pattern that we have seen in Oklahoma and several other states relating to reducing state income tax and subsequently cutting funding for very critical state services, such as education and corrections. Recently, this approach to state government has come under direct attack in Kansas where the current Governor, Sam Brownback, is in a serious struggle in his re-election bid. The citizens of that state have experienced the effects of his “slash-and-burn” fiscal measures and the polls indicate that they are ready to send him home. This is somewhat disorienting to the Kansas Republicans who have assumed for years that they would always be in control. The Washington Post recently reported that, “Mr. Brownback’s Kansas trial is rapidly becoming a cautionary tale for conservative governors elsewhere who have blithely peddled the theology of tax cuts as a painless panacea for sluggish growth.” This can also be found in Oklahoma as we are funding education at the 2008 level while cutting state revenue through state income tax cuts and increased business tax exemptions. Now our departing State Supt. of Education is proclaiming the failure of our local public education is based on weak and incompetent practices of the school’s teachers and administrators, rather than the increases that have been made in class sizes due in part to lack of available staff. Another result of operating at a funding level of six years ago is inability of schools to maintain technology and textbooks to keep pace with the new and more rigorous curriculum standards. I often wonder if our Governor and state leaders would be agreeable to keeping a six-year-old first grader in that same grade for six years and proclaim that the system is failing to properly prepare this student for high school curriculum for which they should be preparing in their middle school years. I know that scenario sounds crazy but no more insane than funding an expanding student population and new curriculum demands at a six year lag of fiscal provisions. I will not be shocked if the November general election does not demonstrate that Oklahomans may be following their Kansas neighbors in saying this “slash and burn” approach to state public services is a failed policy and are going to hold those pushing this policy accountable.
Speaking of operating behind schedule, let us think about making plans to travel on a commercial airline in January 2016. Your photo Id in the form of an Oklahoma drivers license will no longer be sufficient. Also, in three months, this same form of identification will not get you into a federal building. This is the result of our state leaders pushing through Senate Bill 464 which prohibits the Department of Public Safety from implementing any provision of the REAL ID Act of 2005 and requires the Department to report to the Governor and the legislature any attempt by the federal government to reduce funding due to Oklahoma’s decision not to participate in this bill that our Congress passed. The bill prohibits any state agency charged with license issuance for vehicle registration to collect, obtain, or retain any data which is required by the federal act. The measure requires that any biometric data previously collected or retained in connection with the Act be deleted from all state databases. I recall this debate and the bizarre views held by those thinking that our “vile and demonic enemy,” in the form of the national government, was attempting to steal our inner-most being in the form of data on a drivers license which was designed to protect us from terrorists that have immigrated to this country or having been converted and radicalized to act in ways that would harm our citizens. The question that was posed to the legislators at that time was: Is the “Federal Government” a greater terrorist threat than those following foreign radical anti-western groups?”
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

35th Journal Entry of the Second Legislative Session of the 54th Legislature

September 25th, 2014

            I am often amazed at statements made by our state leaders when they seem to ignore the focus and direction of legislation that was recently passed into law.  As recorded, a few Representatives and Senators voted against HB 3399 which proclaimed that all education standards shall singularly be Oklahoma in origin and all influences from outside the state shall be ignored and rejected. Janet Barresi, our State Supt. of Education, is currently stating that our students’ standing as measured by a nationally based group, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is “yet another indicator that Oklahoma’s public education system is in dire trouble.”  While we may disregard her statement as that of a “sore loser,” it is a fact that our state leaders have annually measured our schools success or failure by this assessment form with a very limited scope of students involved in its measurement.  It is equally strange that our State Chamber of Commerce and its affiliate, Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative, joined Janet Barresi in the false condemnation of our public schools in Oklahoma.  When will our government leaders act rationally and make statements that reflect the position of the current legislature in power which has rejected any exterior or non-Oklahoma assessments or standards of our state’s educational efforts?   Did I say “rational?” That may have been an error in my perception of today’s political reality. 

            The irrationality seems to be on the move as our State Department of Education (SDE) has released our schools’ A-F classification, even though they have no bearing on identifying or classifying a school’s status as to needing improvement.  When Oklahoma lost the No Child Left Behind Waiver, the classification process goes back to the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status which is based on a 0-1500 point scale.   Why then does the SDE release these A-F school scores?  This is even more problematic in light of our two Division One Universities’ (OU and OSU) education research department having documented that the A-F assessment is flawed and does not reflect the true educational progress of a school.  So why is the flawed data being published?  The answer may be that both NAEP and A-F is a distraction to cause the citizens of the state to become despondent and disillusioned concerning our public schools and look to alternatives such as charter, virtual charter, on-line for profit virtual academies.  The tip of the ice burg has become very visible during the past 3 ½ years of the Fallin/Baressi Administration.   

            Along that line of thought, I was amazed that our Governor recently justified her refusal to accept the expansion of Medicaid that would have helped thousands of low income Oklahoma workers provide their families with health care at a reasonable cost.  Governor Fallin explained that if we took this federal program we would eventually have to cut our funding for education programs but, at the very same time, she is pushing to cut state revenue by reducing the state income tax rates and expand tax cut incentives to businesses without any requirement for its resulting in increased employment or lowering production costs.  If this were part of the plan, it would provide a means of reducing the cost of living for Oklahoma consumers.   Well, it appears that our neighbors in Kansas are also experiencing the “tax cut crunch” as their Governor, Sam Brownback, initiated a tax cut policy matched with cuts in funding of services.  This turned out to be opposite of what he and his followers promised with their tax cut plan.  Now it appears that those placing this plan into law are losing ground in their 2014 re-election bid.  In fact, this week’s Meet the Press report indicated that recent polls show that voters in Kansas are responding to the cuts in state services as a result of cuts in state taxes.  This may be a similar pattern that could happen in the 2014 elections in Oklahoma.  I will have more on this in my next Journal.   

           

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