I was originally going to give this post the title, “What’s In a Number?” but decided on this image of an old Oklahoma license plate instead. The license, which proclaims state pride, would more suitably illustrate today’s theme, with a slight shift in word placement. Many recent studies, which will be given proper acknowledgement, have shown that, no, Oklahoma is definitely not OK. According to the Huffington Post, updated 10/01/2012, Oklahoma ranks 42 out of the 50 states in the United States in Math and Science education. That ranking was determined by how students performed in each state in physics and mathematics, and in teacher qualifications. Related to this subject were statistics cited in a Thislandpress article written by Holly Wall on 01/20/12. It stated, “Oklahoma ranked 3 in a list of 10 states running out of smart people.” To go on, “24/7 Wall Street looked at reading and math scores, graduation rates and white collar job numbers to determine the 10 states with the lowest education achievement and job levels compared to others, – in other words, the states running out of smart people.” In that 2012 report, Oklahoma ranked 42nd for the number of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher (22.7% of the population), and 37th for percentage of population with white collar careers (11.8%). Those lowest ten states were, from 1-10: Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, Idaho, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Iowa, Texas, Utah.
In the area of Senior health issues and care, Oklahoma ranks 49th, as currently listed at http://www.americashealthrankings.org/Senior. The parameters of the study included obesity, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity. Senior-care facilities in the state are now coming under judicial scrutiny because of the number of abuses reported and deaths occurring in those facilities, and the low over-all level of care provided. For health of the overall population of Oklahoma, the state ranked 44th, with the parameters included being smoking, diabetes, obesity and number of drug related deaths. The state ranks very high in substance abuse mortalities, has very low childhood immunization numbers, and a limited availability of primary care physicians. In the past two years, public health funding decreased within the state by 40%. In the past ten years the number of children in the state determined to be in poverty increased from 21.4% to 27.4%.
Data from kidscount.org also shows Oklahoma ranking 32nd in the nation, with 27% of our children living in poverty. That number is disgraceful! The number of women in Oklahoma living in poverty is also very high, and the organization halfinten.org. lists 75,566 Oklahoma grandparents raising grandchildren. Additionally, according to figures supplied by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of July 25, 2013 Oklahoma leads the nation in the number of women put in prison per capita. It ranks 4th in the number of men incarcerated, and 4th in the nation (prison population per 100K residents) in total incarcerations.
On Nov. 4, 2013, as reported by Barbara Hoberock at http://www.tulsaworld.com: According to the Oklahoma Department of Correction, Chief of Business Operations, Greg Sawyer, that agency was seeking 31.5 million dollars in additional funding for the 2015 fiscal year. Those additional monies were sought not for salary increases or capital improvements, but to manage the growing prison population. Approximately 700 prison beds had been added since 2011.
This a grievously long list of numbers, and doesn’t show Oklahoma having a good record as compared to the other 49 states of this great union. State officials constantly tout our good academic and economic status. Perhaps they’re seeing things differently than these hard statistics illustrate. The United States of Awesome, “What Does Your State Do Well?” (http://bigthink.com) gives Oklahoma a very dubious distinction – having the best license plate. That’s hardly what I’d prefer as my home’s most admirable quality. Is Oklahoma OK? NO! There is definitely room for improvement! Any suggestions as to how that can be accomplished?