Education

A Well Rounded Education

A Well Rounded Education - April 7, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

                There are three principles regarding the role of government in American society that overwhelmingly occupy the majority of our time and resources. Those, in no particular order, are defense, poverty and public education.

                Of course defense is addressed by the men and women who serve our state and country and the military contracts that our federal government let for our national safety.

                Since the 1930’s, Social Security has been in place to prevent an elderly or disabled population from retiring into abject impoverishment. Later, in the 1960’s Medicare was added as a part of the social safety net to improve the quality of life of America’s retirees.

Public Education on the other hand has seen a much longer and more beleaguered existence. As early as 1647, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandated that every Township provide a trained teacher and grammar school at taxpayer expense. The concept grew quickly in the northeastern United States and more slowly in the South.

Public education had become the American norm by the time that Oklahoma was admitted to statehood but that had not eliminated opposition based on objections that have existed for centuries.

Those objections revolve around two main factors: 1) use of public funds; and 2) control of curriculum and continue to resurface.

House Bill 1017 was a landmark education funding and reform bill that was championed by Governor Henry Bellmon and passed with broad bipartisan support in 1990. The legislation reduced class size, increased minimum teacher salaries, established alternative teacher certification, funding equity, early childhood programs, statewide curriculum and testing standards.

 Immediately, opponents of public education reform initiated a petition and were able to get State Question 639 on the ballot. Fortunately, by a 46-54 percent vote, the effort to repeal HB1017 was defeated.

Last year, after 12 years of funding neglect, education in Oklahoma had reached a point that it could no longer meet the needs of Oklahoma children. As a result, Oklahoma was suffering socially and economically. Teachers, parents and interested citizens came to the State Capitol to demand that proper resources were devoted to education in Oklahoma.

Citizens, including teachers, exercised a fundamental constitutional right enumerated in both the Article 2, Section 3 of the Oklahoma Constitution and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Oklahoma’s version says, “The people have the right peaceably to assemble for their own good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances by petition, address, or remonstrance.” Likewise, the national version says, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,…or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

A number of lawmakers did not like being held accountable to their constituents and others who demanded proper education funding. As a result, bills were filed to prevent teachers from coming to the capitol during session. Some political groups are even now threatening to penalize educators and supporters of education by fining the school districts where they are employed or associated.

Many students from across the state saw concerned citizens peaceably assemble at the state capitol in support of education and will ultimately benefit from additional appropriations. It was not enough and more is needed, but those teachers and those parents provided an excellent example of democracy in action. It would seem that by exercising constitutional principles and constitutional rights, both students and legislators learned a lesson. Perhaps a lesson that will need to be repeated. That is a “Well Rounded Education.”

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.org.

Knowing When No Means No

Knowing When No Means No - March 17, 2019

State Representative David Perryman 

                What do low self-esteem, depression, mental health and a high teen pregnancy rate have in common? If your answer was Oklahoma, you are eons ahead of 56 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

                That is the number of men and women who last week voted against House Bill 1007, which would have given Oklahoma public schools the option to teach age-appropriate consent and healthy relationship education. Who would not want their children and grandchildren, and more importantly, the FRIENDS and potential acquaintances of their children and grandchildren, to understand what is and what is not consent, and what is and what is not a healthy relationship.

                As the author, Jacob Rosecrants, a Norman Democrat explained the legislation, there were attempts to derail passage by the eight or so legislators who were vocal in their opposition to the Bill and who refused to see that the Bill was not a liberal, backdoor attempt to introduce “sex education” into the classroom.

                At one point, another legislator who favored the Bill attempted to explain that teaching young people to have the self-esteem to “say no” and teaching them to respect that lack of consent would likely reduce the incidence of unhealthy relationships and teen sexual activity. He went on to say that he believed that consent and healthy relationship education in the past might have reduced the high number of legislators who may have engaged in a sexual relationship before or outside of marriage. In response, one of the legislators who opposed the Bill complained to the Speaker of the House that he had been “disparaged.”

Nancy Schimelpfenning, a free-lance author writing in September 2018 in the online publication, A Very Well Mind, stated that more often than not, teens do not have the needed maturity to deal with the risks and responsibilities associated with sex. And when they turn to risky sexual behavior to cope with their feelings of depression and inadequacy, it can create many life-altering situations for them, such as pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, and parenthood.

Even though the Bill as voted on allowed a parent to opt their child out of the curriculum, there was opposition from vocal legislators who want their children to learn about self-esteem, healthy relationships, boundaries and interpreting consent from their family or from their church. They were not convinced however, that passage of the proposal could make a positive impact on the lives of students who do not receive that message from their family or a church.

According to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention webpage of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the reality is that the Oklahoma Teen Pregnancy Rate (29.7 per 1000 females) is 36.7% higher than the national average of 18.8 per 1000 teen females and is closely linked to critical social issues such as poverty, educational attainment, and increased health care costs. More than 40% of teen moms live in poverty within the first year of giving birth; by the time the child is three, the figure increases to 50%.

 Nearly 64% of Oklahoma teens that gave birth in 2012-2013 said that their pregnancy was unintended, while another 21% were not sure if they wanted a baby later, sooner, then, or at all.

More than once, the word “abstention” was mentioned by those who opposed the Bill. What better way for a young person to protect their right to abstain by instilling in him or her the self-esteem to take that stand and by instilling in his or her friends the knowledge of when he or she is or is not consenting.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

With Friends Like These

With Friends Like These - February 10, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Warren G. Harding, America’s 29th President once famously said, “I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends…they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights.”

President Harding himself an Ohio Republican, kept less than scrupulous friends. A tight circle of his “friends” were called the “Ohio Gang.” Among the group was Harding’s Attorney General, Harry Daugherty. Daugherty ended up as a joint owner of a bank account after he helped free up some frozen assets that had belonged to a German company at the end of World War I. The kickback was approximately one-tenth of the more than $500,000 that members of the Ohio Gang received in payoffs.

Charles Forbes, another Harding friend, became the first director of the Veterans Bureau. Forbes had helped Harding attain the White House by use of the motto, “Return to Normalcy.” In the less than two years that Forbes held the position, he embezzled approximately $2 million, mainly in connection with the building of veterans' hospitals, from selling hospital supplies intended for the bureau, and from kickbacks from contractors.

A residence at 1625 K Street in Washington D.C. was the unofficial headquarters of the Ohio Gang. So sinister and pervasive were the activities of the men who routinely met there, the moniker, “Little Green House on K Street” entered the American lexicon symbolizing political corruption. The group meeting at the green house devised the “Teapot Dome Scandal.” Teapot Dome involved the transfer and no-bid leasing of military oil reserves and resulted in Harding’s Secretary of the Interior receiving no interest loans in addition to gifts that today would be valued at between $5 and 6 Million Dollars.

Although no collusion was ever proven between Harding and his friends, Warren Gamaliel Harding passed at age 57 after having served only 2 years, 4 months and 29 days. Perhaps President Harding’s demise was due in part to walking the floor at night contemplating the activity of his “friends.”

This past November, Oklahomans elected a number of legislators who claim to support public education. The bills they are filing are betraying their claim of affection. On its face, SB360 purports to help children whose parents are incarcerated. What it really does is attempt to channel money away from public education instead of properly funding strong public schools, social supports and criminal justice reform. Likewise, SB570 purports to protect children who have experienced bullying. It too takes money out of public schools and puts it in private schools where, I guess, no bullying ever exists.

These “Friends of Public Education” have put forth SB14, disguised as a bill protecting teachers but instead, disregards Oklahoma’s science curriculum and allows “scientific information” that isn’t scientific fact to be taught. It is not the teachers who seek to depart from teaching science and teachers around the country consistently oppose legislation of this type. Also, SB592 hampers the ability of any group to peaceably assemble at the Capitol by requiring a $50,000 bond.

Not to be outdone, one member of the House filed HB2214 to make it illegal for teachers to repeat the walkout of 2018 and just last week House leadership had hallway barriers installed on the fourth floor to keep pesky citizens like teachers, parents and students from getting too close to their offices.

Just like President Harding, Oklahoma public school teachers are realizing, “With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?”

            Questions or comments, contact David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Button, Button

Button, Button - January 20, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

What do Louisa Mae Alcott’s “Little Men,” “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” David Bowie in “Labrynth,” and Walt Disney’s version of “Alice in Wonderland” all have in common? They all contain a reference to the age old children’s game, “Button, Button, who’s got the Button? Over the past 150 years, very few of us made it past elementary school without confronting the task of attempting to locate that evasive, hidden button.

Over the past decade, Oklahoma’s education budget has given Button, Button a whole new perspective. With daily attendance being a primary factor in the “game” of school funding, the concept of whether a student is “present” or “absent” can literally shift millions of education dollars from some schools to others. With that much money in the balance, it is inevitable that rules are stretched, twisted and sometimes broken.

For brick and mortar schools, the concept of being present or absent at school has remained constant for a hundred years or more. At the beginning of a school day and at every class period throughout the day, a student is either present or absent or tardy. With the advent of “virtual” schools facts get a little fuzzy.

According to  a 2016 Oklahoma Watch article by Jennifer Palmer, “With no seats to fill and no roll to call, ‘attendance’ in virtual education takes on a different meaning.” In fact Palmer reported that in the previous year, every single one of the state’s virtual charter schools reported near perfect attendance with two, including the state’s largest, reporting 100 percent attendance for the entire school…FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR!!!!

Now we’re not talking a drop in the bucket. Last year, virtual charter schools reported a statewide combined K-12 enrollment of nearly 12,000 students.

The natural question is, why should Oklahomans care? Fact is, so long as funding of our public schools is based at least in part on daily attendance and so long as virtual charter schools are allowed to establish their own method of counting attendance, schools that are able to use it for their benefit will, all to the financial detriment of those public brick and mortar schools who will consequently receive a smaller piece of the same funding pie.

While proponents, like the Epic Virtual Charter School Superintendent have been quoted as saying, “When they’re enrolled in an online course, they are considered in attendance; we just follow the law,” holding virtual charter schools accountable by changing the law may be more difficult than it would seem. In November 2018, Palmer, in another Oklahoma Watch article, reported that supporters of the state’s largest virtual charter school had “ramped up” political contributions to elected officials to the tune of at least $145,000, arguably to keep in place status quo policies that harm “brick and mortar schools” across the state.

For instance, the founders of Epic made donations that included “a combined $23,800 for State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and more than $11,000 to State Attorney General Mike Hunter.” Other recipients included Governor Kevin Stitt and more than 50 legislative candidates.

This session, Sen. Ron Sharp, a former teacher from Shawnee has filed Senate Bill 56 in a push for more transparency in the truth behind attendance numbers. The Bill would require virtual charters to submit attendance records of enrolled students to the student’s resident district. Sen. Sharp hopes to eliminate the current situation where hundreds of kids are falling through the system and no one knows where they are.

How far his bill will go remains to be seen. Much depends on whether virtual charter schools will be made accountable regarding attendance numbers or if their generous and well placed political contributions will allow them to perpetuate a costly and wasteful version of Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

Questions or Comments should be directed to David.Perryman@OkHouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Feeling Pain in Too Many Places

Feeling Pain in Too Many Places - June 3, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

For those of us who didn’t end up pursuing a career in healthcare or any science related occupation for that matter, our high school physics and biology classes serves to provide us with our basic understanding of how the nature works. Words and phrases like “the coefficient of friction,” “photosynthesis,” “catalyst,” and “stimuli” were all given meaning in science class decades ago.

One of the postulates discussed in a class was that human beings can sense pain from only one body part at a time. We did simple experiments like biting our lips or pinching our legs and the theory did appear to have some merit.

Apparently an episode of House M.D. also explored that idea. The concept has been called “Ukhtomsky’s Doctrine of the Dominant” named after a Russian physiologist in the early 1900’s. Strangely, aside from a pre-Bolshevik era Russian and the fictional Dr. Gregory House, there is very little research about the subject.

It could be that the only practical value of the concept is to explain why some patients do not feel the sensation of say, a bone that was broken during an accident, until the pain of say, a laceration received in the same accident is treated and that pain begins to subside.

Feeling pain in more than one place could also be applied to Oklahoma and its current state of affairs. For instance, during the past legislative session it seemed that all eyes were on the education budget. After all, a decade of cuts to Oklahoma public education had totaled 26.9% and the future of our state’s children was being threatened. Parents, students and concerned citizens from across the state stood firmly with teachers who raised awareness about ten years of legislative neglect and as a result, steps were initiated to at least stop the bleeding.

Frustratingly, without a plan, there is no legislative leadership. Putting out fires is no way to plan for the future. As steps are taken to address K-12 educational needs, other areas of neglect rise to the top. Oklahomans must be pro-active in determining what they want the future of the state to look like.

We say that we want businesses to bring good jobs to our state, but without exception those businesses say they want an educated and healthy work force.

While we have historically funded our Career Tech system, we have fallen woefully short in funding our colleges and universities. Our future is not bright when students are dissuaded from higher education by the bleak outlook of a mountain of college debt.

We say that we want all Oklahomans to have access to quality healthcare, but we suppress health outcomes by refusing to address high uninsured rates and uncompensated care. Consequently, hospitals and ambulance services that must provide care without regard to ability to pay are closing or cutting back on services.

Our tax dollars go to Washington but we refuse to consider allowing working Oklahomans whose employers do not provide health insurance to have a path toward wellness. More than 65% of the other states accept federal funds and are experiencing better outcomes and a stronger medical community.

We shake our heads at the violence in our state and don’t even consider that with Medicaid expansion comes health care that provides, among other things, treatment for mental illnesses that are especially critical in uninsured populations.

Our state’s priorities are reflected in how state funds are spent. I want my children and grandchildren to prosper in Oklahoma. That will only happen if we thoughtfully examine our state’s shortcomings and systematically address its needs. The pain of failing to fund education and health care is readily apparent. A good first step is to treat the problem and eliminate the pain for generations to come.  

Questions or comments please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

See Spot Run

See Spot Run - May 20, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

Being born a “Baby Boomer” generally means that my primary school experience was filled with Dick and Jane books. It also means that in the absence kindergarten classes, when a little boy or girl turned six years old, they arrived at school in first grade, ready or not.

Ms. Smith taught first grade and did her very best to transform us into readers. Even though I was unaware that the background or life experiences of any of my classmates differed from mine, what I learned that and ensuing years was that there was much diversity in our home lives. Some were from broken homes. Some didn’t have a bookshelf full of favorite books in the corner of their living room. Some couldn’t describe the place they lived as safe and comfortable.

Not long ago I came across a white paper from the Center for Public Education that illustrated why third grade is such a pivotal year for mastering literacy. The bottom line was that struggling third grade readers rarely catch up with their peers academically and are four times more likely to drop out of high school, lowering their earning power as adults and possibly costing society in welfare and other supports. I will add that some of those supports can be the cost of incarceration.

The report listed a number of factors that directly impact the underlying reasons for struggling readers. Those were obvious things like the quality and quantity of verbal parental interaction with children. The study also showed that while children from higher income homes have often been exposed to upwards of 11 million words by age 3, children from low income homes may be fortunate to hear only 3 million.

Another closely related factor was the “anywhere learning concept” that explored the positive impact of parents exposing their children to libraries, museums, recreational facilities and other community-based organizations that promote learning and development.

The report found that sometimes the absence of the foregoing factors can be partially remediated by early learning through the funding of Pre-K opportunities that help children perform better in Kindergarten.

Strikingly, it appears that one in ten Kindergarten and First Grade Students miss nearly a month of school each year, detrimentally impacting a teacher’s ability to teach. Other deterrents involve a trend toward de-emphasizing reading instruction as the subject of professional development and also the current frequency by which non-certified teachers are introduced into the classroom.

It was no surprise that in 1997, the Oklahoma legislature adopted the Reading Sufficiency Act to promote literacy by the third grade. In 2012, during Janet Baresi tenure as State Superintendent of Schools, the legislature adopted a stringent rule mandating the grade retention of any third grader that failed a statewide reading test.

In 2014, the legislature passed HB 2625, which amended the Act to allow a “probationary promotion” for third graders who fail the standardized test, if recommended by a team of parents and educators. Governor Fallin vetoed HB 2625 and the legislature successfully overrode the Governor’s veto.

Last month, Governor Fallin vetoed another change to the Reading Sufficiency Act that had been supported by Joy Hofmeister, current State Superintendent.  SB 1190 would have eliminated the standardized test. The basis for Hofmeister’s support was that the state pays more than $17 Million per year in testing costs and that she believes that Oklahoma could spend those funds more wisely on a comprehensive strategy of intensive remediation to reduce the number of struggling readers.

The Governor argues that if a child has not established basic reading skills by the end of third grade, it seems logical to hold them back.

Perhaps, however, most studies, including Harvard’s Martin West, that students who are held back face lower achievement and worse social-emotional outcomes than similar students who are promoted, and they are more likely to drop out of school.

In any event, the veto has become final and the debate is one for another legislative session.

Questions or comments please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

Literacy and Incarceration

Literacy and Incarceration - April 22, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

Literacy is defined as “understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written text to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”

It has been said that prison planners use third grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds they’ll need fifteen years in the future. I have been unable to verify whether that is a fact or an urban legend.

However, whether there is a link between literacy and future incarceration does need to be examined. Mark Twain didn’t have the internet to use to research this matter like we do today, but he did not hesitate to emphasize the connection when he said “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog.”

The wisdom of Twain may not have been supported by footnotes but it surely could be today. A study published on October 7 2013, by ReadingPartners.org found that it is true that a student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time – six times less likely for students from low income families.

Also, according to a 2009 study by researchers at Northeastern University, high school dropouts are 63 times more likely to be incarcerated than college graduates. Donald Hernandez reported in Double Jeopardy that “while those with the lowest reading scores account for only a third of students, this group accounts for more than 63% of all children who do not graduate.

Much has been said about teacher pay but while teacher pay is important for the recruitment and retention of proficient and qualified teachers, it may not be the number one factor in determining literacy. According to a Literacy Mid-South article dated March 16, 2016, there are a number of factors that contribute to low literacy rates. Among them are school readiness in terms of health, language development, social-emotional skills and participation in high-quality early care and learning programs.

Other factors include chronic absence and its mitigation; summer learning loss; family oriented stressors such as family mobility, hunger, housing insecurity and toxic stress.

In short, incarceration and literacy are connected, but the damage done by a society that does not value literacy and education goes much deeper than that.

When an individual is unable to understand, evaluate, use or engage with written text to participate in society, doors are summarily shut. Achieving ones goals and developing ones knowledge and potential becomes less of a by-product of literacy and more of a wall that cannot be scaled. When we think about incarceration, we normally think about bars and locks. Walls that hinder personal potential are little better than jails. Oklahomans are better than the policies that are being legislated. A fellow citizen is a terrible thing to waste.

If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

The People's House

The People’s House - April 8, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

The Oklahoma State Capitol is an impressive building. It was when it was constructed just over a a century ago and it still remains that way.  One of my most prized family heirlooms is an old 3” by 5” negative of a photograph of the Capitol that was taken by my great-grandmother, Ethel Kindblade Horton, around the time that it was completed. The photograph has special significance because of what was going on in the life of Ethel when she took the photograph.

Ethel was born during the War of the Rebellion in Iowa Territory and as a young girl had homesteaded in Kansas Territory with her parents. She was a pioneer school teacher and when land became available in Oklahoma Territory she and her husband settled in what is now western Caddo County in 1901.

Ethel, like her mother before her, preserved her memories for future generations. In their journals our family has been given first-hand, personal accounts of the hardships and trials of living in unsettled territories. Ethel and her husband Ed did their best to provide opportunities for their children. With a strong civic responsibility, they gave endlessly of their time and resources for things like schools and roads and church construction for community betterment.

When their oldest son Harry reached college age, he was sent back to Kansas to obtain a degree. Tragically, an accident claimed the life of Harry while at college. Ethel, like any mother would be, was devastated and it was against this backdrop that Ethel sought the pursuit of art and photography and a myriad of other distractions to occupy her mind. She never healed but she persevered.

Therefore, while the photograph of a new state’s Capitol Building is historic, the fact that its existence was born out of a woman’s anguish, despair and personal loss, makes it more precious to me and my family.

While our lives overlapped by a mere 6 years, Ethel Kindblade Horton’s existence has made a profound impact on mine and I realize how blessed I have been to be of her stock and to share her pride in a remarkable state that is truly of the people.

Ethel was an enlightened pioneer and I whole-heartedly believe that when she photographed this building setting alone on the prairie, she did so with full awareness that it would serve generations of Oklahomans and that it would truly serve as the People’s House well into its second century. I believe that she would have envisioned teachers and parents and students march to this building and crowd into its halls and demand that education be prioritized.

Therefore, educators and friends of education, welcome to the People’s House. It is a house that exists for you and your families and your children and your grandchildren. It is a house that you have been provided by the spirits of our parents and our grandparents and yes, our great-grandparents for the use that you are putting it to today.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

Trust Us They Said

Trust Us They Said - April 1, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

The truth and nothing but the truth: For about 48 hours last week, it appeared that the Oklahoma legislature had put aside partisan politics and reached a historic bipartisan budget deal that legitimately raised sufficient revenue to fund a decent raise for teachers, include something for school support personnel, state employees and enough dollars to fund about a textbook and a half for Oklahoma students.

In what appeared at the time to be good faith negotiations, Republicans agreed to support an increase in the Oil and Gas Gross Production Tax Rate from 2% to 5% and Democrats agreed to allow a cigarette tax and fuel tax to be assessed so long as the cigarette tax was not more than $1 per pack and the fuel tax did not exceed 3 cents per gallon on gasoline or 6 cents per gallon on diesel.

 While the3% increase in the GPT would not take it to the historic rate of 7%, Democrats viewed the GPT as progressive and agreed to accept it even though it was 2% less than the historic rate that most Oklahomans wanted restored. Democrats also feared that fuel taxes and tobacco taxes would inequitably harm working and low income Oklahomans and sought to have the historic 6% income tax rate on high wage earners restored.

While there was no agreement reached as to income taxes, the trade-off was a promise from the Republicans that the gasoline and cigarette tax increases would be low and the source of the last $50 million in revenue needed to fund raises and textbooks would be a $5 per night hotel tax. The revenue measures were rolled into House Bill 1010xx and when the dust cleared at 8:55 p.m. on Monday evening, March 26, 2018, it appeared that oil and gas lobbyists had taken a back seat to the people of Oklahoma when 100% of the Democratic members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives joined with 70% of the Republican members to tally 78% of the total house and for the first time in state history exceed the constitutionally required 75% threshold for a revenue raising measure.

House Bill 1010xx was then sent to the Senate on what was to be a relatively quick vote before the Bill went to Governor Fallin’s desk. Unfortunately, hours turned to days as the lobbyists from the hotel industry demanded that the hotel tax come out of the bill. Finally, at 7:25 p.m. in the evening on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, the Senate voted on and passed the bill by a bare 36-10 margin, but to meet the demands of the lobbyists, refused to send it to the Governor.

Word came back from across the rotunda that the Senate would hold the bill and would only allow it to be sent to the Governor if the House agreed to repeal the hotel tax provisions. A shell bill, HB 1012xx was hurriedly amended so that it would meet the demands of the Senate. The Bill was called on Thursday and after more than four hours of legal wrangling, suspension of multiple rules and heated debate by the Democrats in the House, the repeal bill passed on a purely partisan vote of 69 Republicans who agreed that a $5 hotel tax was a bridge too far and 26 Democrats opposing the repeal.

At the end of the day what had appeared to be historic votes by the House and the Senate, was really just a new strategy: Put anything in a Bill to convince 75% of the members to vote for it and then before the ink is dry, emasculate it by removing anything from it that wealthy, corporate donors and lobbyists like those representing oil and gas and the hotel industry want stricken. Trust us they said.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

It's Not About Teacher Pay

It’s Not About Teacher Pay - March 25, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

The Oklahoma legislature is on the precipice of working out a long overdue plan that will increase pay for teachers, but in reality, this plan is not about teacher pay.

It’s about your kids, my kids, your grandchildren and my grandchildren.

This is not about teacher pay. It’s about doing our best to raise generations of children whose potential will be recognized. It’s about fostering a future Oklahoma where our kids and grandkids become educated, enlightened, trained and productive citizens.

This is not about teacher pay. It’s about providing opportunities for children who really would choose a future that includes a career that pays them enough to raise THEIR children rather than a life of incarceration.

This is not about teacher pay. It’s about allowing public schools in our state to produce a high quality workforce that will entice businesses to locate good paying jobs here; jobs that have benefits including health care and retirement plans and the quality of life that those benefits nurture.

This is not about teacher pay. It’s about the fact that during the 2011-2012 school year, the state of Oklahoma granted 30 emergency teaching certificates to individuals who had not satisfied certification requirements. Earlier this year, in an attempt to fill classrooms, the State Board of Education reported that number to have exploded to 1,979 emergency certificates.

While teachers have taken steps to bring Oklahoma’s desperate situation front and center through the “Together We’re Stronger” plan, anyone who takes a serious look at the package quickly realizes that this is not about teacher pay.

This is about an attempt to curb the loss of services that are vital to citizens of Oklahoma. For instance, the cutbacks in DPS driver license testing offices that cause new drivers to wait weeks and sometimes months to be tested and cause hundreds of commercial operator jobs to go unfilled because commercial driver license testing facilities have closed.

This is about an effort to provide the first raise in a decade to teacher aids and low wage school district employees who work day in and day out to protect school children in hundreds of different ways.

This is about funding school book purchases so that 12 year old children do not have to use 12 year old science books in a world where technology changes daily.

This is about putting dollars back into health care so that rural hospitals and ambulance services that affect Oklahomans of all ages will be less likely to be shuttered.

This is about taking the Gross Production Tax on oil and gas back to at least 5% so that the tax burden is more equitable and less burdensome to working and low wage employees.

This is about doing what the Oklahoma legislature needs to do to make Oklahoma better for its citizens and compromising in a bi-partisan manner to put the interest of all Oklahomans above partisan politics.

Teachers affect the life and future of all Oklahomans. That is why this is about much more than teacher pay.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

A Holistic Education

A Holistic Education - March 11, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

Holistic Medicine is characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease. Likewise, Holistic Philosophy comprehends that a person’s wholeness can be achieved only by recognizing its parts as intimately interconnected.

Most Oklahoma teachers will tell you that the fact that being 50th in the nation in compensation is only part of the problem. The fact that every day teachers see thousands of Oklahoma students come to school hungry, sick and often dealing with emotionally burdensome home situations make educators in the Sooner State weary and worn and exponentially increases their burden.

Without exception, teachers thrive on seeing students succeed. The reward of watching a child gain knowledge or a new skill makes hours of work worthwhile. Unfortunately, demographics beyond the control of public education inhibit the ability of teachers to reach students and the ability of students to succeed.

Fortunately, the plan unveiled by the teachers last week appears to be designed to address Oklahoma’s demographic deficiencies that have become increasingly harmful over the past ten years.

While detractors have portrayed the demands made in the plan as purely a teacher pay proposal, the teachers also asked for increased pay for non-certified support personnel who serve a vital purpose in public education across Oklahoma. Support Staff who also have served school districts without salary increases for in excess of ten years often fill the gap, help distraught children and remove some of the day to day stress experienced by both teachers and students.

Another overlooked part of the demand made by teachers is that the House leadership that is blocking the COLA Bill that passed out of committee earlier this month allows it to be heard on the floor of the Oklahoma House. Allowing retirees to receive a Cost of Living Adjustment would cost Oklahoma’s budget absolutely nothing and while it would directly benefit thousands of existing retirees, it would also signal current employees that their future may not be quite so bleak.

If the state of Oklahoma truly wants to guarantee a bright future for its citizens, it must support and apply this holistic approach to education.  Paraphrased, Samuel Clemens famously said, “Closing a school requires the construction of a prison.”

The plan of the OEA furthers that concept when it incorporates two additional provisions. First, it requests that the deep cuts to non-payroll educational appropriations be reversed so that, among other things, teachers will not be forced to purchase student supplies out of their already meager pay and assist with the leveraging of federal funding.

Second, the plan calls for an increase in health care funding. While some might not see health care funding as related to educational outcomes, teachers do. On a daily basis, they deal with students who are the children of families who are enduring mental illnesses and physical conditions that are normally both chronic and untreated.

In summary, perhaps no members of our citizenry better understand that a holistic approach to education is essential to educational outcomes. With clarity, the plan proposed by teachers last week incorporates that approach. Oklahoma would be well served if legislators approve the plan in its entirety, so long as the revenue plan to fund the plan is based on a reasonable and adequate increase in the Gross Production Tax on oil and gas and does not place a greater burden of taxation on those who are least able to afford it.

You may contact Rep. David Perryman at 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov with questions or comments.

Prarie Tales

Prairie Tales - March 4, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

In a long list of childhood tales, like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White, and hundreds more, the endings are always, “happily ever after” predictable. Those stories, affectionately known as Fairy Tales, brighten the lives of children and often serve as a springboard for a lifetime of appreciation of a broad spectrum of the literary arts.

Of course, fairy tales are seldom, if ever, based in reality. The Oklahoma legislature promote as its mantra, its own version of fables that are likewise not based in reality. For today’s purposes, I call them Prairie Tales.

Unfortunately, Prairie Tales are destructive to Oklahoma and the institutions that provide services to Oklahomans. One of the most insidious Prairie Tales is that slashing Gross Production Taxes from 7% to 2% is beneficial to the state. Another is that cutting income taxes on high income earners from 7% to 5% generates jobs and increases revenues for Oklahoma.

The truth of the matter is that those tax cuts have cost the State in excess of $1.5 Billion per year and have been the primary cause of Oklahoma’s annual budget holes that have resulted in draconian cuts to education and other services.

Those “trickle-down” Prairie Tales have landed Oklahoma last in teacher pay and our state has cut K-12 and Higher Education funding deeper than any other state in the country.

In addition to draconian education cuts, Oklahoma has neglected the health and health outcomes of Oklahoma’s citizens and at every turn the Governor and the Oklahoma legislature has resisted policies that would increase the number of insured Oklahomans and has undermined Medicaid and access to private insurance for working Oklahomans whose employers do not provide health coverage. Consequently, rural ambulance services, rural hospitals, rural pharmacies and hundreds of medical related businesses across the state have closed or been rendered unable to provide quality health care coverage from one corner of the state to the other.

Those same decisions have devastated Oklahoma’s network of mental health and substance abuse clinics, counselors and providers. Not only does that underfunding destroy lives, it, when coupled with a lack of funding for education and training, has the direct effect of filling prisons to its current 109% capacity status.

The snowball effect of a decade of these destructive policy decisions has put Oklahoma in a place where no state aspires to be. Oklahoma incarcerates more women than any other state in the country and is number three in the incarceration of its male citizens. Recently, the Director of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections unveiled the fact that his agency alone needed more than $1.5 Billion to carry out its function.

Today, it appears that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has diverted more than $1 Billion from the Counties’ CIRB funds. Those funds when properly used are for County Roads, Bridges and other infrastructure. When those are not available, County Commissioners are crippled in their efforts to provide citizens with a network of roads that are safe and essential for commerce.

The list doesn’t end there. Underfunding extends to virtually every single state agency. Their respective essential services are left undone because of the legislature’s destructive policies.

Fairy Tales are just that, but Oklahoma’s Prairies Tales damage the quality of life of Oklahoma’s citizens now and potentially for generations and those citizens do not live happily ever after.

You may contact Rep. David Perryman at 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

The Fatted Calf

The Fatted Calf - January 28, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

 In 1978, a Texas doctor named Ron Thomas, opened a restaurant that he named “The Fatted Calf.” The restaurant was somewhat unique in that the menus had no prices. Thomas’ idea was that each customer would pay according their own conscience and ability, as little or as much as they deemed fair and appropriate.

Under ideal circumstances, people of more limited means would pay what they could, even if their payment was less than the cost of the meal. Likewise, customers who were able would ideally pay a bit extra so that in the long run, everything would even out and the owner would gross enough in receipts to cover food costs, employee pay, overhead and maybe make a little profit.

Dr. Thomas’ Sanger, Texas, “experiment” reflected the result that many other establishments using this “business model” find. Most report that on average they receive about 85% of what is needed to stay open and do not succeed without substantial financial subsidies.

Without delving off into a dissertation on the psychology of customers or their economic habits, the owner of The Fatted Calf confirmed that it is imperative to recognize the actual cost of delivering a quality meal before establishing retail prices. Otherwise, it is possible that revenue will not cover expenses.

With full realization that a free enterprise business model does not directly translate into the delivery of government services, there are basic elements that alike and some that are very different.

Both have costs that are related to the number of “customers” that they must serve. However, a restaurant has the ability to limit the number of meals that it will serve. If business is good, a baker may purchase additional flour and more ovens in anticipation of receiving more revenue and hence a larger profit.

Unfortunately, public schools do not have the ability to turn away “customers” and despite the fact that there were 645,000 students in 2008 and 695,000 a decade later, the 8% increase has not equated to an 8% increase in funding. Instead, per student funding of Oklahoma’s K-12 education formula is down by 22.8 percent since 2008. The percentage cut in Oklahoma is the largest of any state. According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, it works out to a decrease of $810 per student, adjusted for inflation.

Also woefully underfunded is the Oklahoma Department of Corrections which is currently at 109% of capacity and clipping along incarcerating women at the highest rate in the country and in third place with men, needing $1.6 Billion to pay its bills. These are but two examples of a lack of government revenue. Mental health care and a myriad of other core government services must also be funded.

When I was first elected to the House of Representatives, Zero Based Budgeting was all the rage. Legislators and the lobbyists whose money elected them went on and on about how each agencies budget should be stripped down to zero and built back each year so that we would REALLY know the cost of government services. After one or two agencies were reviewed, it became very apparent that building a budget based on need was not the cost saver that it claimed to be.

As it became undeniable that Oklahoma had a revenue problem, the oil and gas industry “stepped up” to “offer” a generous 4% gross production tax to “solve” the problem. In truth, they realized that Oklahomans had become aware of 10 years of tax cuts, tax breaks and incentives that had cost the state over a billion dollars per year. Fearing public outcry for a restoration to the historical 7% GPT Rate the industry is attempting to “name its own tax rate.”

As citizens, we dutifully pay our taxes and want those taxes to be used for services to the citizens of Oklahoma. None of us necessarily like taxes, but there is a fundamental  unfairness that a single industry and its shareholders deem themselves worthy to “set their own rate” simply because they exercise greater political clout than working Oklahomans.

The Fatted Calf failed because it gave away its revenue. Oklahoma, too, will fail if it continues to allow billion dollar industries to drain the state’s coffers to the detriment of working Oklahomans and our children.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

Shutting Down the Government Oklahoma Style

Shutting Down the Government Oklahoma Style - January 21, 2018

State Representative David Perryman

                The past week has been a display of that seamy underside of government that repulses so many Americans. Political parties are more concerned about who gets the blame for shutting down the government rather than reaching consensus on what is best for our country. Four times in the past 25 years the federal government allowed itself to be shut down.

                The most recent edition of Washington gridlock has occurred because the federal government failed to pass a full appropriations bill prior to the beginning of the fiscal year and now is attempting to piecemeal the federal budget by a series of continuing resolutions. Since keeping the federal government open is theoretically a goal of both the Democrats and the Republicans, each have historically attempted to leverage their positions when a vote is needed.

                In this year’s version, the Republicans are in the majority in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and of course control the White House. Politically, the minority party does not receive much consideration for their version of what is best for America and therefore when someone comes along and wants a legislator’s vote, conventional wisdom and good government would involve a process of bargaining to arrive at a solution that is palatable to all involved.

This past week it became clear that the majority is seeking the minority’s votes and the minority is attempting to initiate the process of negotiation to address the CHIP program and DACA. Without getting in the weeds, the CHIP program is the Childrens Health Insurance Program that provides states with matching funds for health insurance for kids whose families are too poor to afford health insurance coverage. DACA is the program that allows immigrants who were living in the U.S. in 2007, were brought to the Country by their families before their 16th birthday, have lived here continuously, have taken advantage of educational opportunities, have not been in trouble with the law, and re-apply every two years but are barred from applying for citizenship because of their status as a DACA recipient.

                The gridlock has arisen because one party wants the CHIP program and DACA to be voted on and the other party refuses to allow it to be voted on.  While those are federal issues and the federal government does not have a Constitutional provision requiring a balanced budget, Oklahoma is facing a remarkably similar version of gridlock.

Over the past ten years, Oklahoma has adopted budget after budget that contain cuts to agencies and underfunds core services.

Cutting the K-12 Education budget by reducing state aid by 26.9% since 2008 results in 4 day school weeks and the crippling of a school district’s ability to educate children. Cutting the state’s Higher Education budget by 17.8% between 2012 and 2017 results in the inability of the state to produce college graduates and those students who do graduate often do so with a mountain of college debt.

Oklahomans rank third in the nation (22.4%) for affliction of mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar or anxiety disorders. Budgetary cuts have left thousands of patients without services and medication.

 The cuts go on and on and involve health care, hospitals, roads and bridges and virtually every other aspect of state government.

The bottom line is, there is more than one way to shut down a government and Oklahoma shows day in and day out that it is very proficient in doing so on a routine basis.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

Connect the Dots

Connect The Dots - August 27, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

Traveling roads adjacent to railyards generally treats drivers to amazing artwork, albeit graffiti, on the sides of boxcars and other rolling stock. I have always thought that talent to produce those pieces could surely be put to better use. The fact that others share that sentiment was borne out by the words that I saw last week on a railcar: “Stay in Art Class.”

According to an article earlier this summer in Governing magazine, Oklahoma educators are facing “death by a thousand spending cuts.” Superintendents who have shepherded their districts through natural disasters and other catastrophic events have discovered that a lack of money to educate Oklahoma’s children is equally challenging.

When it comes to education funding, there is not a single state that has suffered more than ours over the past decade. The Governing article could have examined the situation in any state but found Oklahoma’s in the greatest crisis. It is a shame but, Oklahoma spends $1 Billion less on K-12 education than it did a decade ago. Twenty percent of our school districts are only teaching four days per week. The base minimum salary for educators hasn’t been raised in nine years and emergency certifications to fill teacher vacancies have gone from 32 five years ago to more than 1400 this year.

Class sizes are growing as limitations on the student-teacher ratio have gone out the window. Many classes, including special education classes now exceed 30 to 33 students per teacher.

Likewise, class offerings are being eliminated. That includes such “superfluous” subjects as foreign languages, vocational agriculture, honors classes, advanced placement classes and art. Telling kids to stay in art class rings hollow when there is no art class to connect with the thousands of talented Oklahoma students whose future depends on that training. It doesn’t stop there.

Even funding this year for Oklahoma’s statewide science fair was cut. Oklahomans who are fighting for the future of our state are facing dogmatic rhetoric from those groups who say that Oklahoma has a spending problem and not a revenue problem. Their “facts” are based on generalities like, “Oklahoma has too many school districts” or “We need to spend less money on administrators and more in the classroom.”

The truth is, the number of Oklahoma school districts is not the problem and Oklahoma would see very little, if any savings from school consolidation. For example, Oklahoma already has the fewest number of administrators per student in our seven state region and that includes those states that are claimed to be more efficient because they have fewer school districts. Oklahoma’s efficiencies are based on the fact that most rural administrators do double and triple duty. For instance, in the legislative district that I represent, all but two K-12 schools that have an average daily attendance of less than 550 students are already consolidated and those two already share superintendents with other small schools.

As a result, the per student expenditure in those schools averages 60% of the per student expenditure in metro schools.  When you add in the low cost of K-8 schools (about 45% of the per student costs of metro schools) it becomes apparent that Governor Fallin was way off base last week when she renewed her call for K-8 school consolidation.

The efficiencies in Oklahoma schools are even more pronounced when consideration is given to the fact that the Oklahoma legislature has dropped the ball by cutting funding to among the lowest in the nation. When Oklahoma’s percentage of administrative costs in relation to total funding is the lowest in the region and the total funding is lowest in the country and the region, it only takes a mathematical calculation to realize that administrative costs are already extraordinarily low.

To illustrate, the Oklahoma Policy Institute, has determined that if Oklahoma were to cut its 3.2-percent rate of spending on district oversight to that of Hawaii’s, the lowest in the nation at 0.5 percent, it would have relatively little impact. Statewide, the savings would amount to $249 per student, or $165 million, a year. If all of the savings went to the classroom, Oklahoma would move up only one spot, to fourth from last, in classroom spending per student.

The key is to properly fund education. Since 2008, the percentage change in the inflation adjusted state funding formula is nation leading minus 26.9%. Of the eight states that have cut general funding by 10% or more, five, including Oklahoma and Kansas have enacted substantial income tax cuts. Reversing that damaging trend would greatly improve opportunities for our kids.

Until Oklahoma realizes the need to properly fund education, it may be that the most effective art class exercise would be a giant “Connect The Dots” worksheet.

Thanks for allowing me to serve in the Oklahoma legislature. If you have questions or comments, please call 405-557-7401 or write David.Perryman@OKHouse.gov.

What's In the Pinata

What’s in the Pinata? - December 13, 2015

State Representative David Perryman 

America, the Melting Pot, has incorporated Christmas traditions from the world over. German immigrants brought with them the traditions of Candy Canes and Christmas Trees. The custom of caroling, kissing under the mistletoe and sending Christmas Cards comes from our English heritage.

Those of us who are Scandinavian have our ancestors to thank for the traditions of the Yule Log and the Twelve Days of Christmas.  As families bring their cultures to America, they often incorporate their own traditional gift bearers into our society. Among hundreds of names are St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Grandfather Frost, the Three Kings, the Magi, Santa Claus and even Baba Chaghaloo from Afghanistan, to name a few.

Mexico, our neighbor to the south is the source of the “Flowers of the Holy Night” which we now call the Poinsettia. Another Hispanic tradition is Las Posadas, a memorial celebration stretching the nine days from December 15-23, to honor the nine month struggle of the Virgin Mary and culminating in the quest of Mary and Joseph to find a place for Jesus’ birth.

Las Posadas, as in, “There was no room for them in Los Posadas,” is also the holiday most closely associated with a star shaped Piñata being hung from the ceiling and swung at by blindfolded children who are uncertain about the contents, but hopeful that it will be a treat.

In 2002, President Bush signed No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a bipartisan education bill that was certainly not a treat. It required excessive mandatory testing and unfair and unreliable school district report cards. It included teacher evaluations that failed to measure the effectiveness of the teacher.

Teachers were forced to “teach to the test” and were burdened with hours and hours of additional tasks that filled evenings and weekends with busy work and did not enhance the education of the student. In short, the politicians and bureaucrats who championed it were “blindfolded” by not being educators and their swings at success missed badly.

Through the ensuing 14 years, Bush issued exceptions to the law under the mantra of flexibility and Obama followed through with waivers and incentives. Nothing could cure NCLB.

Ultimately, last week, President Obama signed a new bill called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ending the 2002 disaster.

Positives of the new law include a greater degree of flexibility for the state and school districts to develop and enact local control and also a more accurate and efficient means of evaluating teachers. It will also provide more funding for social studies.

While ESSA is in its honeymoon stage and is being lauded by all who participated, it does contain some troubling aspects. There are provisions that allow wealthy investors to pull dollars from public education under the guise of being “paid for success.” Also, alternative certification provisions have the potential to harm teacher preparation programs at our colleges and universities.

The new law also requires states to fund “equitable services” for students in private and religious schools and some believe that there is not enough oversight to ensure equal educational opportunities for minorities or to address disparities in school discipline procedures and suspension policies that target minority boys.

Let’s hope that as ESSA unfolds that it helps students succeed and is not just another Piñata that delivers only lumps of coal.

Your comments are welcome at 1-800-522-8502 or at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

Oklahoma's Hurley Burley

Oklahoma’s Hurley Burley - August 30, 2015

State Representative David Perryman

                When will this Hurley Burley be done? When will the battle be lost and won?

The opening dialogue from Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a foreshadow of literary tragedy. Defined as “noisy confusion and tumult”, Hurley Burley aptly describes the dire situation facing Oklahoma’s public schools brought on by those calling the shots at the state capitol.

This weekend’s Dallas Morning News detailed that in 2013 Oklahoma’s average teacher pay was $6000 less than Texas’ average pay. The article made it clear that geographically, it is a no-brainer for an Oklahoma teacher to earn thousands of dollars more by simply driving 20 minutes across the Red River.

The Dallas paper made an even better case for teachers to drive a few miles further or relocate to areas like McKinney where the additional pay will net $10,000 more per year or Frisco where first year teachers with master’s degrees are making $15,000 to $18,000 more per year than in Oklahoma.

Sandi Jacobs, Vice-President of the National Council on Teacher Quality also related that qualified teachers are looking at ending salaries as well. “The idea that someone would end their career making $15,000 more than they started seems very unprofessional. It isn’t what you’d expect in a profession.”

Many Oklahoma teachers, frustrated with the lack of pay increases and the lowest salaries in the region, have started making the drive across a border, exporting our teacher talent while importing a different type of teacher.

So, while Oklahoma teachers are being recruited to teach kids in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, the legislature responds by enabling residents of those states to obtain “emergency teaching certificates” and teach OUR “treasured” students.

Why would a qualified Arkansas teacher come to the Sooner State when they could stay home and draw a better salary there? Hint: They may not be qualified teachers. For instance, Tony O’Brien, Superintendent of Newcastle Public Schools said, “It’s just brutal right now trying to get people certified. They may have a degree in underwater basket-weaving, and I’m trying to get them a certificate in elementary education.”

Emergency Teaching Certificates issued by the State of Oklahoma are putting Oklahoma kids on the short end of a destructive export-import process.

OKC’s News9 reported a few days ago that Oklahoma’s schools had 1,600 vacant teacher positions, of which 600 were eliminated by increasing class sizes. The State Department of Education is currently considering 664 applications for “emergency teaching certificates” for the remaining 1,000 vacant positions. Shawn Heim, OSSBA’s Executive Director said, “That’s over 2,200 positions that aren’t being filled by highly qualified teachers, the kind of teachers that I want in my child’s classroom.”

Today’s lead editorial in the Daily Oklahoman said that “Lowering the volume may help in teacher pay debate.” That advice ranks right up there with “sticking our head in the ground.”

This is neither a Republican problem nor a Democratic problem. It is an Oklahoma problem that the Legislature and the Governor have failed to solve. It up to the VOTERS. Otherwise, Act 4, Scene 1 will be “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble.”    

Questions or comments, call 405-557-7401 or email David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

 

Malice in the Palace

Malice in the Palace - April 5, 2015

State Representative David Perryman

On September 1, 1949, Columbia Pictures released a short film featuring The Three Stooges and their trademark slapstick comedy set in the palace of a middle-eastern Emir. The name of the movie was Malice in the Palace and the plot revolved around the Stooges, all three dressed as Santa Claus, and their attempt to gain entry to the royal residence to “rescue” a valuable diamond.

The film is replete with scene after scene of slaps, slugs, chokeholds and retaliatory pokes in the eyes. Never to be outdone, the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the Senate and the Governor took retaliation to a whole new level this week.

Instead of stealing a diamond, the two houses of the legislative branch conspired with Oklahoma’s executive branch to take from Oklahoma teachers the convenience of having their professional dues withheld from their monthly paychecks.

In an act of crass pettiness, House Bill 1749 was passed and signed into law with the sole intent of preventing local school boards from allowing teachers across Oklahoma to have their POE, OEA or AFT dues broken down into monthly payments and deducted from their gross pay.

During floor discussion and debate, Democrats and the 11 Republicans who joined them in opposition to the Bill pointed out numerous legal and technical problems with the Bill. Debate made it crystal clear that the legislation was nothing more than a retaliatory poke in the eye of Oklahoma’s teachers who regularly proclaim that Oklahoma’s children deserve better than 49th in funding.

Republican Representative David Dank pointed out that there are 69 different payroll deductions that may be made under Oklahoma law and only the teachers’ dues were under attack.  “Let’s not be hypocritical,” said Dank, “We’re doing this to punish a group” that opposes charter schools and education vouchers, which are hallmarks of conservative education policy.

In the end, HB 1749 cleared both houses and was signed by Governor Fallin on April 2. It is scheduled to go into effect November 1, 2015, unless overturned by the courts. Similar laws in Wisconsin and North Carolina have been held unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Additional errors in the Oklahoma statute appear to be attributed to hasty drafting. For instance, the Bill fails to recognize that POE, OEA nor AFT bargain for teacher contracts.

Likewise, an error in the Bill refers to school districts as “state agencies” when the Oklahoma Constitution clearly classifies them as “political subdivisions.” The Bill then states that it does not apply to political subdivisions.

Current law that specifically and expressly states that school districts shall accommodate teachers by allowing professional dues to be payroll deducted (Section 5-139 of Title 70 of the Oklahoma Statutes) was neither amended nor repealed and remains on the books.

Already in the midst of a $611 Million budget gap, Oklahoma cannot continue to afford the costly legal defense of unconstitutional, retaliatory legislation that is directed at a group of citizens who subsidize the education of Oklahoma’s children on a daily basis.

This week I heard a legislator tell a group that “we really would like to give teachers a $5000 raise over the next five years, but we just can’t under the current budget.” Of course we can’t, and we will not be able to so long as the House, the Senate and the Governor don fake Santa Claus suits, give lip service to their support of public education, grant millions in corporate tax credits, and pursue irresponsible tax policy.

POE, AFT and OEA members will soon start paying professional dues by check and will be reminded on a monthly basis that they were poked in the eye and who is behind this Malice in the Palace. Will they hold them accountable?

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 800-522-8502.

An Observation from the Farm

An Observation from the Farm - January 25, 2015

State Representative David Perryman

My Dad was my vo-ag instructor.  In fact over a nearly four decade long career, he taught me, all three of my brothers and hundreds of other young men in our rural community.

He taught us a lot about a lot more than just agriculture. This week my oldest brother, Roy and I were discussing that experience.

Roy recalled the time in his freshman Ag I class when Dad had just showed the group how to set up a heat lamp in a farrowing pen over a litter of pigs. As the new pigs scrambled toward the light and settled in a mound, Dad stepped back satisfied that the light was the proper height. 

Dad asked the question, “Why are the pigs piling on top of each other?” and one of the boys responded, “To keep each other warm.” Dad smiled, shook his head and said, “Those pigs don’t care about each other. They are piling on each other to keep themselves warm.”

In math, we know about “absolute values,” in science, we know about “absolute zero,” and in politics, we know about “absolute majorities.” However, what my father taught a group of Oklahoma farm boys on that day in the winter of 1961 was an “absolute truth.” 

The survival instinct and pure selfish interest of animals overrides any potential for feelings of compassion toward others and outright trumps the concept of community. It’s true. The Golden Rule was not written for animals.

However, as Oklahomans, it is imperative that we seek the common good of our state. When we become aware that Oklahoma lags behind all but one or two states in physical health and mental health, we should ask “why?”

When we learn that Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy rate, its prescription drug abuse rate and its divorce rate is among the highest in the country, we should actively seek the cause of these deplorable statistics.

Historically, we Oklahomans have had a deep seated pride in our state.  That pride comes from our heritage of surviving the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  It comes from winning sports teams, an abundance of natural resources and breathtaking panoramas of natural beauty.

Today, there are fewer and fewer of our citizens who experienced the 1930’s. While sports teams provide diversion, we realize that strings of subpar seasons undermine excitement and do little to improve our lot in life.  Painfully we receive repeat lessons that hanging our hat on the price of oil is precarious.

The direction of our state’s future must be to enact legislation and policies that will lower incarceration rates for nonviolent crimes.  Governmental policy must encourage a diverse economy that will provide living wages so that employees and their families can have access to quality health care and educational opportunities. To be business friendly, we must value education. We have to maintain and improve roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and high speed internet.

We didn’t get here overnight and neither party can wholly blame the other; however, the direction that we are headed now is down, and it will not get any better until Oklahomans engage as good citizens and take a stand to reverse the current decline in our quality of life.

We have the potential to care enough about others to reach out for the common good.  That is what makes us different from a baby pig that piles up with the rest of the litter under a heat lamp to simply keep itself warm.

 Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 800-522-8502.

2015 Session Preview

2015 Session Preview - December 28, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

With the New Year comes a time when the specific language of pre-filed proposed legislation is ironed out and readied for introduction before the February 2 beginning of the first regular session of the 55th Oklahoma legislature.  Because of the limitation on the number of bills that each legislator may file, I have sorted through a number of requests and have pre-filed bill requests on a variety of subjects.

One of the bills addresses a recurring problem relating to elder abuse caused by children or grandchildren of the elderly person.  Oklahoma has long had a statute that prevents a person who causes the death of another to inherit from that person.  I am seeking to extend that prohibition to persons who abuse a parent or grandparent.  Such treatment is tragic and is an attempt to keep an individual from being enriched by a person that they have abused.

With a rush of corporate donations flooding into campaigns particularly in light of the Citizens United lawsuit that basically makes the sky the limit on corporate influence in the political process, I have pre-filed a bill to enable shareholders of corporations to be able to monitor and prevent huge partisan donations.  In other words, if the government cannot put a limit on campaign contributions from corporations under the guise of “freedom of speech” then the shareholders of those corporations should be able to.

I have re-filed a bill that needs to be addressed.  It deals with the ability of a municipality to form fire districts either independently or in conjunction with rural lands within the school district in which the municipality is located.  Fire protection translates into lower fire insurance rates and less expensive insurance is an economic development issue.  It is time that Oklahoma becomes serious about fire protection.

Another re-filed bill is one that was authored by my old office mate, Curtis McDaniel eliminating the ability of drivers to legally text while operating a motor vehicle.  Statistics are clear that texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things that a driver can do.  In fact it is right up there with using alcohol during the operation of a car.  I don’t know where opposition will come this year or what argument they will use, but it is imperative that a message is sent that we want our highways to be safer.

In education, I am authoring a bill to help eliminate excessive testing.  My bill focuses on replacing the End of Instruction Tests with the ACT.

I am working on language to clarify some existing sections of the Open Meeting Act to make it easier to comply with and less confusing to the many state and local boards and governing bodies that have to comply with the Act.  Often, the boards have to guess at how the Attorney General or the District Attorney will interpret a section.  With penalties for violations being ever more serious, we should make the statutes clearer from the outset.

My other bills deal with robocall abuse during political campaigns and making state budget makers more accountable and more accurate as budgets are crafted.  I will share more as the proposed language is developed.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 800-522-8502.