Okie Funk is currently listed on The Fix in The Washington Post as one of the best state-based political blogs in the country.
Dr. Hochenauer was given a Marshall Gregory Award for Excellence in Education Reporting for Editorials by the Oklahoma Education Association.
Okie Funk: Always on the historical record . . .
Okie Funk, The Book, or Thoughts Along The Armadillo Highway, is a selective collection of this blog's posts published from 2004 to 2006. The book chronicles the political climate in Oklahoma during that interesting and changing time period.
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Some of the post-election editorials by The Oklahoman, which actually didn’t support president-elect Donald Trump, have been marked by a warped, snarky edge criticizing liberals and progressive activists. It’s suffocating to be open-minded here.
The instinct that many women feel to protect their bodies against their future President is reasonable. https://t.co/0TU4qHrHRY
The most recent example of such an editorial was published today under the headline “Liberals unnerved by sudden role reversal,” which uses sweeping generalizations and cites minor legal cases instead of deploying the type of evidence-based argumentation you might expect from a large metropolitan daily newspaper.
The editorial makes the point that liberals have been taking people’s rights away from them in recent years, citing two cases where people were accused of discriminating against people based their religious beliefs. One case involved the owners of an Oregon bakery who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The other case involved The Little Sisters of the Poor, a charity group, which was threatened with a fine because it refused to “distribute”—that’s the word used by The Oklahoman—birth control.
Both cases were about rights, true, but they were about the rights of people—liberal or conservative—to receive particular services whatever their religious views. The cases and their outcomes were vastly different as well. The bakery was fined for its obvious discriminatory actions. All it had to do was bake a cake, but the owners chose to make a stand. The Littler Sisters of the Poor actually WON the right to refuse to offer birth control to their employees through insurance as mandated by regulation. Note, again, the use of the word “distribute” by The Oklahoman.
It might be easy for progressives here in the Oklahoma outback to believe a Trump presidency doesn’t matter much locally because the state is already dominated by GOP ideology and has its own set of contemporary Okie weirdness, from all the fracking-induced earthquakes to over-the-top bigoted politicians to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s denial of global warming.
How to pay for Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar agenda? Congressional Republicans aren’t saying. https://t.co/76zuf3q2NI
But it can and will get worse for progressives here, and the answer, as blunt as this might sound, is to move, and I mean like MOVE like right now.
Here are three ways the Trump presidency will make Oklahoma a living hell for progressives:
(1) Oklahoma, as we all know, is heavily reliant on the federal government for disaster relief and other funding. With federal budget cuts looming under Trump and an empowered Republican Congress, and Trump’s promise for now of giveaways for billionaires to make major infrastructure improvements, Oklahoma might just end up “weathering” the next major tornado catastrophe or ice storm on its own. Meanwhile, other federal funding could be cut dramatically as well. The state already faces a major budget shortfall for next fiscal year. What will all this mean in terms of funding for state education and health programs? Probably, it means huge cuts. Don’t expect local GOP politicians to complain about this, though, because most stand to gain personally from a Trump presidency in terms of stature and employment opportunities in his administration.
There’s little doubt in my mind that public education here will face a continued assault by the right-wing and especially after the electoral-college election of Donald Trump, the Russian-backed candidate soon to be the leader of the so-called free, democratic world.
Recent public comments by Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin and commentary in The Oklahoman show absolutely no one in the Oklahoma Republican-dominated government will be held accountable for the fact the state has cut public education on the K-12 level the most of any state in the nation since 2008 and pays its teachers the lowest or next to the lowest salaries in the nation.
The facts are clear. Low teacher salaries have created a state exodus of teachers here, and the overall cuts to education have devastated the public education system, forcing some school districts to institute four-day-a-week schedules instead of increasing class sizes to unmanageable levels. Here’s another fact as well as almost an afterthought: Funding to higher education was cut nearly 16 percent this current budget year by a legislature with Republican super majorities. Those super majorities increased in the recent election.
Fallin, according to a recent media report (see above), argues schools should “step up” when it comes to reducing the days in a school week because, well, it’s bad for economic development in terms of our public appearance. In what has to be one of the most disingenuous comments of her tenure, Fallin seems to blame schools for what the right-wing has wrought here in its detest for public education.
The question is fairly basic. Do schools fire teachers and increase class sizes or do they reduce utility and day-to-day operating costs and ensure public school students have a decent experience when they DO get to attend school? Some school districts—not many—chose to go with a four-day-a-week schedule. It’s understandable, not ideal. It’s a tragedy at some level, but it’s the best decision.
Fallin, of course, claims she’s worried about economic development while advancing the usual right-wing agenda of tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, which have been implemented here, putting children at risk. Now she seems to argue that schools should “step up”—her words—by firing more teachers and increasing class sizes so some mythical business executive will think Oklahoma has a “normal” public school system. This presumes leaders of businesses—big and small—are fairly stupid and don’t get it that Oklahoma funds its schools and colleges at incredibly low levels.
The Oklahoman, meanwhile, published a somewhat innocuous but snarky post-election commentary that argued it’s nothing unusual that educators have served in the legislature. This was in response to the so-called “teacher caucus” movement here, which tried to get more educators elected to office. That movement met with mixed, perhaps disappointing results. The fact that Republican super majorities were extended—even though some of the new legislators identified as teacher-friendly candidates—renders the whole point moot, anyway.
(I learned late last night that Frosty Troy, the longtime editor of the Oklahoma Observer has died. Troy was a legend in Oklahoma journalism and a great advocate for liberal causes in this state. I will have a post celebrating his life soon. My...
Let’s be clear that everyone deserves health care, even those people who voted for President-elect Donald Trump and for Republicans in the House and Senate.
Our goal must be to join every other major country on earth in guaranteeing health care for...
I wrote last Wednesday about how an animal advocacy group has ranked the Oklahoma City Zoo as the worst for elephants, and the zoo’s response to the designation was, as expected, defensive and non-specific.
Please visit https://t.co/6tj4x5TqHj to...
Okie Funk has been in existence since 2004 and is considered one of the oldest and most reliable political blogs in Oklahoma. Created by Kurt Hochenauer, the blog has corralled millions of hits over nearly 12 years on its more than 1,500 posts. It has been linked to, mentioned by or republished on numerous national and local publications and sites since it was founded. It has won awards dating back to 2006 and has been ranked twice in The Washington Post's The Fix column as one of the best state political blogs in the country. Hochenauer has also written political commentary that has appeared in local and national publications. He has appeared on radio and television as a political commentator. Prior to earning his Ph.D. in 1991 and becoming an English professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, Hochenauer worked as a journalist at The Kansas City Star and Times, The Oklahoman and The Tulsa Tribune.
Here are some Oklahoma sites and blogs in alphabetical order: