Blog

11 Jun
0

Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance has First Meeting

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2012
Contact: Trav Robertson
405-427-3366

 

Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance has First Meeting

               
Oklahoma City– In a blatant disregard for the Human Rights of Oklahomans, the Republican-led legislature and an executive order from the Governor has dissolved the Human Rights Commission and other commissions that affect various special interest groups. Fortunately, the Oklahoma Democratic Party stepped in to facilitate the first meeting of the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance to fill the vacuum left by the elimination of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.

The Alliance made several productive steps towards establishing long-term goals and objectives. The Alliance voted to establish a working committee to create a mission statement and to meet on the second Monday of every month at noon. The Alliance also decided to bring suggestions for new subcommittees to the next meeting.

The Alliance was composed of representatives from a wide variety of organizations. In attendance were representatives from the American Association of University Women, American Federation of Teachers, Central Oklahoma Human Rights Alliance, Central Oklahoma Labor Federation, Cimarron Alliance, Divine Wisdom Church, Faith Church, Human Rights Commission, J.O.Y. The Free Resources Clinic, Labor Council, Mainstream Baptists, National Alliance for the Advancement of Colored People, National Association of Black Social Workers, Office of Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Democratic Party Affirmative Action Committee, Oklahoma Conference of Churches, Oklahoma Federation Democratic Women, Nuestra Comunidad, and The Peace House.

If you want to be involved with the OUHRA please contact the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

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11 Jun
0

College Graduates May Soon See Double on Student Loan Interest Rates

State of Oklahoma
House of Representatives

College Graduates May Soon See Double on Student Loan Interest Rates
By State Representative James Lockhart
June 11, 2012

I am very concerned about the possibility that without Congressional intervention, the interest rates of college student loans will double come July. As a state legislator I am worried about the economic impact this will have for the 40-60 percent of college graduates that do not have a job in their respective field.

College graduates ages 24 and younger face an uncertain job future that is only going to get more difficult if we continue to turn out graduates without what a business executive recently defined as “the skills we need.”

For those fortunate to have secured a job in today’s economic climate, many will discover how hard it is to stretch a paycheck to cover the bills – especially when you factor in student loan repayments, which are calculated under the income-based repayment plan to garnish 10% of your disposable (after-tax) income.

Much of the debt-for-diploma fiasco facing college graduates in rooted in a monumental government shift in which the focus has not been on making college more affordable, but simply more financeable through student loans.

The lion’s share of two and four-year degree recipients need financial assistance to attend college, and as state and federal aid continues to decrease the cost of tuition and fees increase. Students in need who once received grants now must borrow to pay the skyrocketing cost of attending a university.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the class of 2011 is the most indebted in U.S. history, with an average debt burden of nearly $23,000. USA Today has reported that total student loan debt in the U.S. is on track to exceed $1 trillion this year, having surpassed credit card debt.

Given my interest in both K-12 and secondary education, I am proud to be a member of the newly-formed bipartisan Education Caucus in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. One of the top priorities of the Education Caucus is to improve communication and awareness among Members in the House in order to facilitate a better understanding of education issues facing our state. However, the ultimate goal of any education policy drafted will hopefully be to give students the tools they will need to enter the workforce, and to find creative means to lower the albatross of a high debt-for-diploma ratio.

I am somewhat hopeful we can prevent student interest rates from doubling, as both parties in Washington D.C. say they want the same resolution, which is a low rate on student loans for one more year. I hope they reach an agreement before the July 1st deadline. Doubling interest rates on student loans will only make it even harder for young adults who already face a challenging future.

James Lockhart lives near Heavener with his family and represents House District 3.

07 Jun
0

Press Advisory: Oklahoma Society for Human Rights

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2012
Contact: Trav Robertson
405-427-3366

 

Press Advisory 

Oklahoma Society for Human Rights to Replace former Human Rights Commission

 

Who: Human Rights Commission, ACLU, NAACP, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, CAIR, Concerned Clergy, NABVET, Labor Council, OLGBT, Central Oklahoma Human Rights Coalition
What: A meeting to establish an Oklahoma Society for Human Rights, to replace the OK Human Rights Commission that was dismantled by Governor Mary Fallin and the Republican-controlled legislature.
When: 11:00 a.m., Monday, June 11th, 2012
Where: George Krumme Building 4100 N. Lincoln Blvd. Oklahoma City, OK 73105

*More Information to Come


For questions please contact the Oklahoma Democratic Party at 405.427.3366 or by email info@okdemocrats.org

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07 Jun
0

Lawmakers Condemn Release of Educational Records

State of Oklahoma

House of Representatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

June 7, 2012

 

Democratic Leader Scott M. Inman                          Representative Curtis McDaniel

State Capitol Building Rm. 548                                   State Capitol Building Rm. 316

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73105                              Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73105

Contact: Valorie Owens

405-962-7604

 

Lawmakers Condemn Release of Students’ Educational Records

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 7, 2012) Two lawmakers expressed outrage today over the actions of the State Department of Education, who without regard to the parties involved posted on the state Department of Education website the personal records of each student denied an exemption from testing requirements.

 

“I am shocked at the degree of callousness displayed by the Education department, who again decided to loosely interpret the law when they broadcasted sensitive information about students on their website,” said Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City. “These students’ rights were violated when education officials put on the Internet, for any and all to see, their names, dates of birth, test scores and learning disabilities. I seriously question if this action was done in ignorance, or if it was a deliberate attempt to publicly humiliate students who are challenging Superintendent Barresi’s policies.”

 

Leader Inman noted that educators and attorneys alike have stated that this action violates state and federal educational privacy laws.

 

In order to submit an appeal for an exemption from testing requirements, students are required to sign a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act waiver (FERPA). However, that waiver is meant to disclose information to education officials who have a legitimate educational interest or decision-making role in the appeals process. It has never before been interpreted to mean that it allowed the Department of Education to place students’ private information on the Internet.

 

“We should be able to place our trust in the stewards of education data to ensure students’ personal information is properly safeguarded and is released only for legitimate purposes and only when absolutely necessary,” said Leader Inman. “This is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, and education officials should exercise caution at all times. However, under the direction of Superintendent Janet Barresi, we see a lack of professionalism, competence and common courtesy. I am sorely disappointed that these students, who are earnestly trying to receive their diploma, will suffer as a consequence.”

 

Leader Inman noted that within the educational records of students, addresses and phone numbers were redacted, but dates of birth of students were poorly reviewed, as in several instances they were blacked out on one form but left exposed on another.

 

“I am appalled at the actions of the Department of Education, and there should be a consequence for their poor leadership and decision-making skills,” said Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville. “These actions reveal their total inability to lead our schools, or to protect and prioritize the needs of students across the state. Not only is this an embarrassment to the Education department, but these privacy breaches could result in federal penalties and fines.”

 

Rep. McDaniel is a former educator and principal of Smithville High School and holds a Master’s in Administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

 

“I am calling for the immediate admonishment of Superintendent Janet Barresi and those directly involved in the decision to post sensitive information online,” said Rep. McDaniel. “There should be dire consequences for such dereliction of duty to the students of this state, as these actions can not and should not be allowed to go unchecked. I also call on Governor Mary Fallin to immediately issue an Executive Order demanding a moratorium be placed on this practice until legal experts review the ramifications of violating FERPA.”

 

“I know that the new testing mandate and the appeals process has been a controversial issue for many, but that in no way justifies throwing our students’ rights and privacy under the bus. As adults and leaders we should rise to a higher standard and not play politics with kids’ lives.”

 

 

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30 May
0

Jobs Bill for Oklahoma Veterans Signed by Governor

State of Oklahoma

House of Representatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 30, 2012

Rep. Chuck Hoskin
State Capitol Building Rm. 509
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Contact: Eric Russell
405-962-7819

 

Jobs Bill for Oklahoma Veterans Signed by Governor

 

OKLAHOMA CITY- Friday, Governor Fallin signed a bill that will assist veterans seeking employment after serving in the armed forces.

The bill, authored by Rep. Chuck Hoskin, D-Vinita, Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, and co-authored by House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, would ease the transition from service to civilian life for more than 329,000 veterans who call Oklahoma home.

“It is often the case that soldiers cannot easily explain their training and skills in civilian speak, because the methodology of military training doesn’t always perfectly align with a university degree or trade school program,” said Rep. Hoskin. “This bill addresses that problem by offering veterans the opportunity to demonstrate transferable skills.”

When an interview is a component of the selection process, the bill requires that public employers must interview each veteran who meets the minimal and special qualifications for the position. The interview allows the employer to determine whether a veteran’s military education, training, or experience produced a transferable skill that would qualify them as a top candidate for the position.

“Transferable skill” means a skill that a veteran has obtained through military education or experience that substantially relates, directly or indirectly, to the civil service position for which the veteran is applying. For example, an Army infantryman receives training in the use, maintenance and storage of weapons, skills which are transferable to positions in corrections or law enforcement.

“In 2011, Oklahoma had approximately 9,000 unemployed veterans; hopefully that number will decline as a result of this bill,” said Rep. Hoskin. “I am grateful for the service that these men and women have provided to our great country, and the goal of this legislation is to give back to them as they return home by making their job prospects brighter.”

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