Renegar Questions Fairness of Education Evaluation Standards

State of Oklahoma

House of Representatives

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

August 31, 2012

 

Rep. Brian Renegar                         

State Capitol Building Rm. 504                                     

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73105

Contact: Valorie Owens                                  

405-962-7604

                             

Renegar Questions Fairness of Education Evaluation Standards

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (August 31, 2012) One state lawmaker, disturbed by the way the word “fair” is being distorted by high-ranking education officials, has decided to file legislation to implement fairness in an evaluation method that he says is clearly lacking in fairness.

Representative Brian Renegar plans to address new rules adopted by the State Department of Education that will grade school districts on the performance of students who take online courses or attend virtual schools.

“I find it unfair that we will soon be grading school districts on factors outside of their control,” said Rep. Renegar, D-McAlester. “How is it fair to grade a brick and mortar public school according to how well a virtual student performs?”

Rep. Renegar contends that a more appropriate body to hold accountable for the performance of virtual students would be the Department of Education.

“As the Department of Education is incredibly supportive of virtual schools that don’t even exist yet, to the point of raiding money from very real public schools and students, my legislation will hold it accountable for the academic successes or failures of virtual courses and schools. If virtual students underperform on any areas, the Education Department would be accountable.”

He noted that, according to the State Department of Education, in the years of 2009-2011 there has been a reduction of 1,533 full-time education employees while student enrollment has increased by an estimated 20,000 students. While public schools have endured cuts in funding despite increased enrollment, the Education Dept. this year set aside funding for virtual schools based on an assumption of maximum student enrollment.

“In addition, the Education Department thinks it’s appropriate to grade schools based on student attendance, so likewise, it will be graded on this criteria as it applies to the participation and completion rate of virtual students,” said Rep. Renegar. “As a reminder, the Education Department adopted standards in which it takes a 93.7% or higher to score an “A” grade.”

During a House Education meeting this past session, a representative of the Education Department said, point blank, that when the Department was crafting the rules for the A-F grading system, the calculations resulted in too many schools receiving a grade of “A” when the corresponding score was set at 90%. Therefore, an “A” grade must be 93.7% or higher.

“Why would the Education Department intentionally develop a formula in order to decrease the chances of schools receiving an ‘A’ grade? Is the Department’s goal to make our public schools appear to be under-performing? If so, why?”

“Honestly, I am fed up with the loose use of the word “fair” when it comes to how our public schools are funded. I am frustrated with how the Education Department is prioritizing funding for charter and virtual schools over our public schools. I am upset with school districts being forced to ask their patrons to approve bond issues or to ask for donations because the Department is placing our taxpayer dollars in the hands of private and for-profit virtual schools.”

“Right now the education evaluation standards in place for schools is anything but fair.”

Two weeks following the General Election in November, legislators will be authorized to prefile bills and resolutions for introduction.

The House of Representatives will convene for the First Regular Session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.

 

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Governor Fallin Rewrites History at Republican National Convention

For Immediate Release
August 29, 2012
Contact: Trav Robertson
405.427.3366

 

Governor Fallin Rewrites History at Republican National Convention 

Mary Fallin Ignores Education, Healthcare, and Native Americans

 

Oklahoma City – In Tampa, Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett failed to tell the whole story about the situation in Oklahoma during their speeches at the Republican National Convention. She began by telling the controversial beginning of our statehood by claiming that the area was settled by pioneers who “rushed to put a stake down on empty plots of land.” Her narrative about the creation of our state completely demeans and ignores the real history of Oklahoma, without mention of the various Native American tribes that were here for many years beforehand, and those who continue to call this land “home” to this day. Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said, “I’m very proud of the fact that about 30 percent of our delegation to the Democratic National Convention is Native American, which is more than any other state.”

Mayor Cornett proudly talked about his fiscally conservative policies, but he is quick to forget that Interstate-40, which runs parallel to bricktown and downtown Oklahoma City was funded with millions of federal money. In addition, he mentioned the success OKC has seen with the MAPS programs and had the audacity to say that “we paid cash.” He leaves out the fact that it was actually paid for by taking out bond money and leveraging funds with a sales tax increase. Chairman Collins commented, “That’s like going to the bank, getting a car loan, and telling your friends you paid cash!”

The Governor’s speech went on to put corporations ahead of people, and her economic plan is the same as Mitt Romney’s. She is going to continue to give tax cuts to corporations and people that do not need them, while leaving the bill with the middle class. However, tax cuts for the wealthy will not raise the standard for our education system which is ranked 48th in the nation for per pupil spending. Tax cuts will not help our healthcare system in which President Obama kept his promise to the American people by getting the affordable care act passed. Governor Fallin responded to the ACA by turning away $54 million dollars that could have helped struggling Oklahomans because she was afraid of the backlash from extremists in her own party.

“After watching and listening to her speech, I couldn’t help but wonder what world does she live in?” Chairman Collins continued, “Oklahoma ranks near the bottom in areas like teacher pay, mental health, veteran’s benefits, and other vital social programs, which does not provide a good basis for cutting taxes for the wealthy. We should not be proud of these things and Governor Fallin is going to completely erase them in the history book she is writing.”

 

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Rep. Todd Akin and Rep. James Lankford Co-Sponsored “Personhood” Bill in Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 27, 2012

Contact: Tom Guild, Democratic Nominee for Congress in Oklahoma’s Fifth District

Phone: 405-921-3811

Web: www.guildforcongress.com

 

“Personhood” Bill Co-Sponsored in Congress by Representatives Todd Akin and James Lankford is Anti-Female, Anti-Family and Anti-Life!

                Edmond, Oklahoma– Tom Guild, Democratic Nominee for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District of Oklahoma, believes the “Personhood” Bill in Congress, H.R. 374, that is co-sponsored by Representatives Todd Akin and James Lankford is Anti-Female, Anti-Family and Anti-Life!

The incumbent congressman from this district, James Lankford, is a co-sponsor of the radical H.R. 374, the “Life at Conception Act” in Congress. Todd Akin, R-MO, is also a co-sponsor of the bill.  Akin recently made sensational headlines when he said, “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.  If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” H.R. 374 is a “personhood bill” at the national level. It is virtually identical to bills introduce in the Oklahoma and other state legislatures and is also strikingly similar to “personhood” ballot initiatives voted down twice in Colorado and Mississippi.  It would “implement equal protection under the 14th amendment to the Constitution for each born and ‘preborn’ human person.” It would give constitutional rights to “persons” at the moment of fertilization.

H.R. 374, as a practical matter, would outlaw abortion, including in cases of rape, incest and threats to the health or life of the mother. It would outlaw most commonly used methods of birth control, including IUD’s and birth control pills.  This legislation would increase the need for abortions by increasing the number of unplanned pregnancies, because of the restrictions it places on the use of contraception. In vitro fertility clinics would be outlawed or forced to radically change their policies, so that every embryo would be implanted in a woman. This proposal even outlaws termination of dangerous ectopic pregnancies.

“The threat that this legislation poses to women’s lives and health is clear. A woman should have the right to make reproductive and health decisions such as whether to bear or begat a child.  This is protected by the fundamental right to privacy, which is older than the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.  This legislation is anti-female, anti-family and anti-life,” states Guild. Guild continues, “This type of nonsense makes Oklahoma a caricature nationally, and there are good reasons that Colorado (twice) and Mississippi voted this craziness down in statewide votes!  There are reasons that even the Oklahoma State House of Representatives refused in 2012 to hear a similar bill at the state level!”

“This bill is dangerous, uncommonly silly and almost certainly unconstitutional.  I strongly oppose this legislation and will fight this type of legislation in Congress!  Fire Congress!  Vote like your life  and health depend on it–because they do!” concluded Guild.

Guild is currently running for the congressional seat in the Fifth District of Oklahoma. For more information about Tom and his campaign, visit www.guildforcongress.com

 

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Renegar to Revisit Rehabilitation Certification in Light of Deaths at Narconon

State of Oklahoma

House of Representatives

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

August 24, 2012

 

Rep. Brian Renegar                          

State Capitol Building Rm. 504                                      

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73105

Contact: Valorie Owens                                  

405-962-7604

                                                           

Renegar to Revisit Rehabilitation Certification in Light of Deaths at Narconon

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (August 24, 2012) A local lawmaker disturbed by suspicious practices of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in his county of Pittsburg plans to eliminate a loophole which allowed centers deemed “nonmedical” to operate without any state oversight.

In response to the recent deaths at Narconon Arrowheard, early last week Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, requested the House of Representatives legal staff to draft legislation to require that nonmedical treatment centers must receive oversight and certification from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“Many questionable practices have come to light in the last few months that have raised serious safety concerns, not just in Narconon’s reliance of daily 5-hour sauna sessions and a rigid vitamin regimen to combat withdrawals, but in the quality of their staff, which appear to be inadequately educated and trained in the care and treatment of patients with drug and alcohol addictions,” said Rep. Renegar. 

Narconon Arrowhead, which is associated with the Church of Scientology, has had seven patient deaths since 2005, three of which occurred in the last nine months.

Narconon first came to Oklahoma in 1989 when it signed a 25-year lease with the Ponca tribe for its new 75-bed center in Chilocco. Narconon originally challenged Oklahoma’s authority to regulate the facility, claiming that they were not required to obtain certification or licensing from the state by virtue of its location on federal trust land held for the benefit of five Indian tribes comprising the Chilocco Development Authority.

As Narconon expanded its treatment to include non-Indians, they attempted and ultimately failed to receive certification from the Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health, which denied them on the basis that there was no credible evidence that the program was effective for chemical dependency. At the time, however, the state allowed for the center to get an exemption from certification when Narconon went instead to a private group, the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) based out of Arizona, for approval.

In 2001 Narconon decided to close the Chilocco center and moved to its present location at the Arrowhead Lodge on Lake Eufaula.

State law later changed wherein the CARF certification alone was no longer sufficient to satisfy state licensing issues. The Department of Mental Health acknowledged the CARF approval, but only as it applied to the first of Narconon’s four steps in its treatment program — the non-medical withdrawal phase. Lacking proper certification was Narconon’s practice of rehabilitating people with substance abuse issues with saunas, vitamins and minerals.

“For whatever reason, the health and wellbeing of vulnerable citizens with addictions were allowed to be exploited, and in seven instances, people died as a result of this exploitation, all while in the care of Narconon Arrrowhead. I will do my best to work with all the appropriate parties to ensure we better protect our sons and daughters who are simply seeking help for their substance abuse issues.”  

Two weeks following the General Election in November legislators will be authorized to prefile bills and resolutions for introduction.

The House of Representatives will convene for the First Regular Session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.

 

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Does OK GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell Agree with Congressman Todd Akin’s Comments?

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2012
Contact: Trav Robertson
405.427.3366

 

Does OK GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell Agree with Congressman Todd Akin’s Comments?…His Silence is Deafening 

Oklahoma Republican Party Chair Matt Pinnell Needs to Stop the War on Women

 

Oklahoma City – In Missouri, Congressman Todd Akin-R, has made appalling comments that women who are “legitimately raped” will not become pregnant. This statement has brought women’s health and the Republican Party’s way of thinking about the female body onto the national stage again. In Oklahoma, the Republican Party has constantly tried to regulate women’s bodies with invasive legislation that is unconstitutional, unnecessary, and demeaning. The citizens of Oklahoma deserve to hear Republican Chairman Matt Pinnell denounce Congressman Akin and for the OK GOP to end the war on women. “It would be immoral for Chairman Pinnell to continue to support Congressman Akin as a candidate for Senate,” said Oklahoma Democratic Party Vice-Chair Dana Orwig.

Vice-Chair Orwig stated, “This shows that the war on women from the Republican Party is nationwide.” During the last year alone there have been several pieces of controversial legislation and patterns of bad behavior that have been seen from Oklahoma Republicans.

On March 5, 2012 Representative Jeannie McDaniel-D, presented an amendment to House Bill 2381 to remove a requirement enacted into law two years ago, which states physicians, prior to performing an abortion, must conduct a transvaginal ultrasound on the woman. The amendment was tabled by a motion from Rep. Josh Cockroft-(R).

In February of 2012, a vulgar email from the Insurance Commissioner’s office was sent out referring to women in a demeaning way.

On April 26, 2012 Senators Tom Coburn-(R) and James Inhofe-(R) voted against Senate Bill 1925, the Violence Against Women Act, which would protect all women and approximately 150,000 Native American women in Oklahoma with specific language to help protect them on tribal lands.

“It’s outrageous that the Oklahoma Republican Party continues to attack women under the direction of Matt Pinnell and the Republican leadership supports these acts of bad behavior.” Vice-Chair Orwig continued, “I believe that Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell needs to respond to these attacks and ask Congressman Akin to step down.”

Calls made to the Oklahoma Republican Party were turned away because Chairman Matt Pinnell is out of town testifying in a case in which their State Convention has been called into question because of not following the rules.

 

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