Senate Communications Division
The full Senate has given unanimous approval to a measure aimed at protecting the rights of parents to decide how best to raise their children. House Bill 1384, by Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, and Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is also known as the “Parents Bill of Rights.”
“The family is the most basic unit of society,” Griffin said. “This bill simply clarifies that parents have the fundamental right to decide how to raise their children, and that includes the right to make decisions about their education, their religious training, and their medical and mental health care.”
Griffin said a recent case in Boston was but one example of attempts to erode parental rights in this country. When parents disagreed with a hospital’s decision to treat their daughter as mentally ill instead of treating her for a physical illness as diagnosed by a reputable physician, the hospital asked the state to terminate the parents’ rights. The court sided with the hospital.
Griffin called that decision shocking, but noted there have been other cases throughout the country that represent an attempt by courts or governmental officials to deny basic parental rights.
“This legislation bolsters the fundamental right of Oklahoma parents to decide how to raise their children,” Griffin said.
The Senate voted Monday 43-0 in favor of HB 1384. The bill now will return to the House for approval of amendments.
Congressman Tom Cole
What began as a U.S. Defense Department program in the 1960s has become a communications phenomenon that has revolutionized the way we share and acquire information. An American achievement that now connects networks across the globe, the Internet has recently grown from a “high speed” 56k modem in 1996 to a worldwide network that allows users to instantly download and watch TV shows and movies. Without question, going online is a valued part of society that has increased access to information and even helped businesses grow.
Since the Internet’s inception, the United States has understandably played a major role in the supervision of critical back-end web work, including management of domain names through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Back in 2000, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce began contracting with ICANN to ensure these important functions were performed appropriately and effectively. This oversight role has allowed the United States to maintain an open, stable and secure Internet that is accessible all over the world.
On March 14, 2014, however, the Department of Commerce announced it will not renew its contract with ICANN when it expires in the fall of 2015. Instead, NTIA announced its plans to transition the United States out of its oversight role and turn it over to a global Internet multi-stakeholder community, likely within the United Nations (UN). Because the details of the plan haven’t been unveiled, it can be assumed that the Administration’s decision is premature and will threaten the future of the innovative global network.
Because the Internet connects networks across countries, the question of how it should be governed is not unusual. But American freedoms are unique freedoms, not always recognized or likely to be protected under a multi-stakeholder community. In particular, under a global community model, our nation’s freedom of speech could be attacked and censored. The UN’s International Telecommunications Union has long desired to seize oversight of domain names from the United States. Both the House and Senate remain united that it is not time to transition the United States out of its current oversight role. In 2012, both chambers unanimously warned the International Telecommunications Union to maintain the current Internet governance. Last May, the House again showed its concern when it unanimously passed H.R. 1580; this legislation reaffirmed that it is the policy of the United States to preserve and advance the current model that governs the Internet.
While this legislation awaits action in the Senate, leaders on both sides of the aisle have voiced their concern over surrendering this sort of control to a yet-to-be-determined international community. Even former President Bill Clinton spoke out, “A lot of people…have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering their people.”
We cannot and must not ignore the potential threat to our First Amendment rights if the Administration prematurely surrenders control without a real transition plan. I can only assume that countries that don’t share American values will use it as a way to limit the aspects that make it successful. I remain concerned with any national or international attempts to make changes that would fundamentally alter something as robust, innovative and valuable as the Internet.
A respected black sheriff says liberal policies that perpetuate entitlement programs have destroyed the black family: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/24/clarke-social-liberalism-the-new-racism/?page=1
Reminders of the abundance in our lives surround us, but sometimes we ignore them to focus on our troubles.
Thus it is with gratitude that I acknowledge the contribution to my mental wellness of my friends of many years, Don and Sue Cogman of Scottsdale, Arizona. Don and I have been friends since 1969, plus co-workers, boss-employee, company executive-consultant. The list is long. A long relationship I treasure.
Don and Sue, like the rest of us, raised their kids in a loving home where excellence was expected and failure perceived as a learning experience.
Don and Sue’s kids are all over-achievers in the best sense of the phrase. I don’t know the kids, but I have followed them through Don and Sue all their lives and taken pride in their accomplishments.
Earlier this week, I emailed Don to say hello and he replied with this:
“We just returned from New York where we attended HBO’s premier of the 4th Season of Game of Thrones — very exciting. It was held in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the same place Bryan graduated from Juilliard. He wrote two of the episodes and is now a co-producer — it is becoming the most successful show in HBO’s history. It was a kick!!”
Wow! Talk about a young man doing well. Bryan was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Maryland and Connecticut as Don and Sue followed Don’s impressive career. And now, Bryan is making his star in New York City.
Brian’s success reminds me of the successes all of our kids (and grandkids!) can claim and I rejoice in the knowledge that these kinds of young folks fill our lives and remind us of the pleasant abundance that surrounds us if we look for it.
Having outlined my platform for my non-existent campaign for nothing earlier this week, I’ve received several emails from readers who found truth in some of the planks I listed.
It is this one, however, that has me seeing red:
I have an appt. with a new doctor April 10th. Got the new patient paperwork in the mail yesterday. Most of the forms were of the color-in-the-bubble-with-a-#2-pencil-so-a-computer-can-grade-it variety. Then, the last 3 questions on the form: Do you have working smoke detectors in your home? Do you consistently wear your seat belt? Are there any guns in your home? So, what I want to know is “What the HELL do any of those questions have to do with my colon?” If I fill in the wrong bubble, will I get a home visit from a psychiatrist or a police officer? By the way, I left them all blank.
Patrick B. McGuigan
In those glorious films based on the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ stories, the character of “Tigger” sang memorably concerning “The wonderful thing about Tiggers.”
At one point Tigger concludes a chorus declaring that the best thing of all about Tiggers is “I’m the only one.”
When records are open, our government is more transparent and its functions more understandable. And, those functions are subject to the kind of open and bold questioning that should characterize a free society.
Oklahoma’s system is far from perfect, but I have been able to work methodically on a news story (forthcoming) about our local public school district’s attempts to improve the quality of instruction and education.
I’ve been able to check and recheck information because it is online and readily accessible.
The program I’ve studied in some detail is financed by Title I federal funds, known as School Improvement Grants (SIGs).
Who could possibly be against school improvement?
Certainly not me. Here’s the problem, at least in my mind.
I studied seven local schools who have been grant recipients since Fiscal Year 2011.
The money to boost performance at those sites has gone to some of the best-known education consultants in America.
Only one school actually improved its performance on standardized tests and in the state’s A-F grading system for schools.
Of the other six school sites, one had flat achievement, while the remaining five declined in the most recent statewide assessments. Grants (projected through FY 2015) have totaled $27,566,250 since 2011 — with $7,907,380 of that for “professional services.”
Now, at a minimum, I think it’s reasonable to expect that after that much money is spent, performance gets better. But that’s only been the case at one high school (named for President Ulysses S. Grant, with a principal who is one of the best public school educators in modern Oklahoma history).
Those are facts, but those facts have received very little attention, a situation my modest efforts — as part of the Watchdog.org network’s observance of Sunshine Week — is in the process of correcting.
One wonderful thing about open records is that they can be accessed by professional journalists, citizen journalists (self-appointed but increasingly effective monitors of government), and simply those who want to figure out why in the world government does, what it does, so unwell.
Sunshine Week, observed across the nation both by reporters like me and scores of pro-transparency groups across the philosophical spectrum, seems an appropriate time to point something important out to our loyal readers.
Accessing open records — and forcing more government transactions to become open to public scrutiny – is no one’s monopoly.
The wonderful thing about the public’s right to access, understand, evaluate and comment upon the work of our government is that it is the birthright of every American, under law.
Let the sunshine in – every week and every day.
Pat is bureau chief in Oklahoma City for Watchdog.org, and editor of CapitolBeatOK. You may contact him at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com .
The Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma today released its inaugural Policy Memorandum on “Why Strong Families Still Matter.”
Noting that despite Oklahoma’s reputation as a family-friendly, faith-based state, Oklahoma’s social indicators show that its children and families are in distress. Oklahoma’s rates of child abuse and neglect, childhood poverty, educational success, teen sexual behavior, and teen substance abuse paint a sobering picture of the challenging climate Oklahoma’s children face.
The FPIO Policy Memo notes that despite these negative social indicators, research reveals a common denominator which signals an advantage for children: children raised by their biological, married father and mother exhibit the greatest opportunity for success, safety and well-being than children in all other family structures. The report cited major studies which found that:
● Children living with their married biological parents universally had the lowest rate of maltreatment, whereas those living with a single parent who had a cohabiting partner in the household had the highest rate in all maltreatment categories, including child abuse and neglect.
● Children in a married family are considerably more likely to avoid poverty than if they are in a single-parent family or other family structures.
● Children living with their married parents are significantly more likely to stay in school, have higher levels of academic achievement, and graduate than those from any other kind of family structure.
● Teens living with their biological father and mother had the lowest rate of sexual activity than their peers in other family settings.
● The lowest prevalence of being drunk, use of marijuana and other illicit drugs is reported by adolescents who live in mother-father families.
Bearing this positive common denominator in mind, the FPIO Policy Memo calls on faith, community and policy leaders focused on strengthening communities to consider how efforts to improve marital stability factor into their community development efforts.
The Policy Memo references the abundance of data that shows that couples can learn how to improve their positive communication skills, their support and helping roles, and the overall quality and satisfaction of their marriage. Such marriage education efforts should be utilized and expanded to help reduce the incidence of unnecessary divorce and family breakdown in OK communities.
The Policy Memo makes the following recommendations:
à The Oklahoma Legislature can do its part to assist by seriously considering policies that slow down the fast-pace of unilateral divorce, encourage more premarital education, financially encourage long-term marriage, and increase the opportunity for reconciliation.
à Additionally, faith and community leaders can chip in by expanding efforts to encourage young people as to the benefits of marriage, to take advantage of opportunities to participate in premarital assessments and training, to not rush to the altar before being ready, and to then keep their marriage vows for the long run.
Oklahoma policy makers and community leaders should take special note of the data presented here that demonstrates that cohabitation has the most detrimental impact on a child’s opportunity for success and consider what solutions can be developed to lower the incidence of cohabitation.
To read the full paper, go to: www.okfamily.org