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The Way I See HB3399 And The Common Core Fight In Oklahoma

That’s it.  Right there in that box.  That’s how I see HB3399 and the Common Core fight in Oklahoma.

I see nothing but red.  

When I started trying to fight Common Core years ago, I remember being gullible enough to believe that because Common Core wasn’t right, it was stoppable.  I remember being looked over, ignored and shut out by parents, legislators, the State Department of Education (SDE) and taxpayers, but I remember believing the truth would somehow win out.  

I don’t believe that anymore.

I do believe Josh Brecheen and Jason Nelson have worked longer and harder on HB3399 this session than any of their other bills – and despite what some might say, both men truly want to stop Common Core.  I have no doubt about that anymore.  Here’s what I DON’T DOUBT.

Brad Henry took State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) from the Obama administration and when he did, he began the process of handing over Oklahoma’s public education to the federal government.  He didn’t stop there, though, he continued the process by applying for a Race to the Top (RTT) grant.  For every education ‘reform’ Oklahoma put into LAW, Oklahoma got more ‘points’ on their RTT grant. Consequently: 
  • the Common Core State Standards were instituted into law before they were ever even available to read in final form, 
  • the underpinnings of the P20/W Council (Prek-20 years and Workforce) were cemented in place to collect massive amounts of data on public school children without consent of their parents thanks to the changes in FERPA laws under Arne Duncan and the Obama administration
  • A-F grading system and teacher ‘accountability’ systems were begun


No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: “But what would you replace it with?” When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?

– Thomas Sowell

I agree wholeheartedly with Thomas Sowell, so you may be surprised to learn that the purpose of this article is to outline what should be done when Obamacare completes the incineration of one-sixth of our nation’s economy.  But there is no real contradiction between agreement with Sowell and recognizing the need to replace Obamacare with reasonable reforms.  No one contends that the American health care system prior to 2010 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed was perfect.  However, health insurance, or the lack thereof, was not the primary problem.  Escalating cost of care was, and the ACA did nothing to solve that problem.  Consequently, regardless of whether the ACA collapses under its own weight; is repealed, in whole or in part; or is simply amended piecemeal, it is appropriate to consider what should replace it.


Elected Officials vs Citizens: Who do YOU trust?

  Trust, like character takes a lifetime to build and only an instant to destroy.  Trust is sorely missing in how citizens feel about the officials they elect to represent them and look out for their best interests.  Trust is missing because of the influence of outside factors, such as big business and the chamber…

By David Van Risseghem

  The Mental Health Association Of Tulsa Has Entered The Debate On The Tulsa Jail Bond Politics.
Executive Director, Michael Brose Addresses His Complex Response To The Jail Bond Vote.

   Like Michael,   many of us who serve in leadership for mental health advocacy are sorting out conflicting concerns about mental health treatment, and the format in which it is being delivered; or not delivered.
   I am the President-elect of NAMI Tulsa. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the largest advocacy organization for mental health issues. Our organization has not endorsed either side of the upcoming bond election, in Tulsa County. I happen to personally oppose the current jail bond and several others in NAMI are also concerned that the jail has encountered “mission creep” into  public mental health through criminalizing people who are experiencing a nervous breakdown.
Mr. Broce’s comments (printed in blue) are very insightful and I want his concerns to be further amplified.  I’m going to post Michael’s recent letter and give my own comments:
   Unfortunately, sometimes you have to swim upstream
   Over the past few weeks, I’ve been repeatedly asked about my thoughts regarding the April 1 tax extension vote to expand Tulsa’s David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, and to improve its facilities and treatment for inmates impacted by severe mental illness.
   Mental healthcare is critical care. It needs to be available wherever and whenever it plagues humanity. To neglect it is to endanger the sufferer and every person within that person’s sphere of interaction. Most people with mental illness are NOT violent. But life-threatening concerns are always present. As the current trend progresses, one day, someone you love will likely face the criminal charge of being mentally ill.

   Like many issues in search of a simple answer, this question is complex. I do support Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s proposal for several reasons. First, Sheriff Glanz, and deputies who operate the jail, have no control over who is placed in the jail. They have to accept and care for whomever law enforcement charges and brings to the jail. Inmates can only be released if the sheriff receives an order from the court to do so. Second, the sheriff clearly recognizes inmates with severe and untreated mental illness committed crimes they would not have committed if they were receiving the treatment they desperately need in their respective communities.

   This is a very valid point.  The county sheriff houses inmates whom the sheriff has prosecutorial role. He and his deputies are charged with the duty to keep the inmates safe and keep the county safe. He is not responsible for the failures of the state in providing the preferred mental health facilities which many of these sufferers should should be treated at.
   Sheriff Glanz has personally witnessed bad things happening to people who are severely ill, and have been placed in his jail, almost always due to the absence of enough treatment beds in the community. Because of our failure, and the State of Oklahoma’s failure, to fund treatment beds adequately for Northeast Oklahoma, people who are severely mentally ill continue to be placed in his jail. He wants to properly care for them in an area where they are free from being preyed upon in the general population of inmates. The sheriff also wants to have the resources to properly train specialized officers who understand mental illness, and their special needs.
   Sheriff Glanz is personally named as a defendant in wrongful deaths. He does not get to choose the medical staff which treats the inmates. That is the county commissioners’ role. He does ultimately answer for the failure of his wardens and staff, when they fail. If their failure results in harm or death, then he cannot pass the blame on lack of resources. If he feels he cannot do his duties correctly, his duty is to resign his role.
   Is the sheriff’s proposal the long-term answer? No.
   Sadly, this is the reality of our refusal to properly fund treatment beds to serve the size and population of Northeast Oklahoma. We need to help the jail properly care for these inmates who live with severe, untreated mental illness at no fault of their own now. At the same time, we must organize all of our combined efforts to insist lawmakers begin investing in people who, if they receive the treatment they need in their own communities, become taxpaying, contributing members of the community. Sixty percent of Mental Health Association in Tulsa employees are doing just that — living in recovery with severe mental illness, because they secured adequate treatment in the community. Many of our employees have histories, and sad stories, of incarceration in jail and in prison. With adequate treatment, they live in recovery, pay taxes, have families, and they are gainfully employed. They are the fortunate ones. Right now, the jail is full of people facing charges because their severe mental illness went untreated and, subsequently, have committed non-violent and often petty crimes. On any given day, 33 percent of inmates in the jail will present with a severe mental illness, according to the Tulsa World’s own Julie DelCour. Simply put, these inmates were unable to secure adequate treatment in their community, and now they are behind bars.
   This is the “heart” of the Oklahoma issue. None of the problems will truly be resolved by a jail bond. In fact, it may take longer to bond and build a jail than for the state to appropriate funds to open treatment centers in existing facilities. Correcting the state funding problem this month, could result in a shrinking jail population in every county of our state, this year! The legislature is now in session. we don’t need to wait until the next bond election to fix the problem.

   The Mental Health Association in Tulsa supports the sheriff’s desperate appeal to support the tax extension vote. At the same time, we call on the sheriff, the Tulsa County commissioners, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, the Tulsa City Council members, and the whole of the community, to join forces, regardless of party affiliation, and insist together that Oklahoma lawmakers, and Governor Mary Fallin, invest in Northeast Oklahoma with the community-based treatment and beds we so desperately need. This isn’t about raising taxes. This is about investing in our people. Sadly, sometimes you have to swim upstream.  

   Some folks don’t care about treating mental illness, until their loved one becomes stricken within it’s hideous grasp. I, and many other mental health advocates urge every Oklahoman to look beyond the jail bond elections and help fix the statewide failure at the state capitol.  There are some who are using my arguments only to defeat a county tax increase. I am aware of that.
   If we don’t fix this problem right, we will see endless ballooning county bond issues and ever higher expenses in criminal justice funding, at a very wasteful misappropriation of effective treatment and a much worse record of successful recovery.

By Mental Health Association In Tulsa On March 27, 2014
By Michael W. Brose, MSW
Executive Director
Mental Health Association in Tulsa

Michael Broce and MHAT’s full messages are available at: 

The Best Help For Mental Illness Is Not A Jail

County Budgets Pay the Price For State Govt. Failure Perhaps the most glaring example of legislative failure, in Oklahoma, is illustrated by the terrible abuse of the county jail. Tulsa’s jail is taking on a role that is was never designed for – nor should it be!  County jails are supposed to serve to protect […]

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County Budgets Pay the Price For State Govt. FailureJails are trying to become mental hospitals  Perhaps the most glaring example of legislative failure, in Oklahoma, is illustrated by the terrible abuse of the county jail. Tulsa’s jail is taking …