HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

A fresh legal challenge to the state’s 2014 elimination of teacher job protections has reached the Kansas Supreme Court, close on the heels of a separate lawsuit that proved unsuccessful six months ago.

Environmental Protection Agency / Wikimedia Commons

For years, some Texans in agricultural areas have been complaining of chemical drift from crop dusters. Poisonous pesticides can sometimes drift as much as five miles from their intended targets, especially in the high-speed winds of the Texas Panhandle.

Wikimedia Commons

As he closes in on the one year anniversary of his hiring, West Texas A&M University President Dr. Walter Wendler has been making the rounds promoting his ideas for educational growth on the High Plains.

Wendler is the former chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and he was formally named president of WTAMU last September.

Among President Wendler’s main concerns is the heavy burden of student debt in America, and especially how that issue affects residents on the High Plains.

Staffing shortages at the El Dorado Correctional Facility are creating unsafe working conditions, according to the head of the union that represents state workers.

Douglas Perkins

One Oklahoma teacher has now turned to panhandling to pay for necessary items for her classroom.

Oklahoma teachers will be returning to work in a few weeks, and that means they’ll have to get their classrooms ready. But, in cash-strapped Oklahoma, this can be an even bigger challenge than in other states.

Nick Youngson / Creative Commons

Oklahoma will soon announce a new health care initiative aimed at reducing premiums and expanding coverage for everyday Oklahomans.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the Affordable Care Act has struggled recently. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only remaining insurer on the state exchange.

Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

Many Oklahomans will be forced to change the way they drive after a new law takes effect in November.

As KFOR reports, beginning Nov. 1, drivers will no longer be allowed to travel in the left lane permanently.

The Kansas State Department of Education is asking schools to increase the number of students who go on to college or vocational programs within two years of leaving high school.

The department released new district-by-district data this month as part of its push toward that end.

Attorneys for the state and the Legislature faced a barrage of questions from skeptical Kansas Supreme Court justices Tuesday scrutinizing the Legislature’s school finance plan.

Farmers, Ranchers Concerned About Health Care Costs

Jul 18, 2017
publicdomainpictures.net

As the national debate on health care heats up, farmers and ranchers have a lot on the line.   

As Politico reports, farmers have been struggling with the economic challenges of sluggish crop prices and sharply lower farm income. And even though close to 90 percent of farmers have health insurance, their concerns over health care is more widespread than it may seem.

Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

CNBC has released its annual “Worst States to Live In” list, and the news isn’t good for Oklahoma.

The Sooner State came in third on the list, which ranks livability based on a number of metrics including crime rate, attractions, air quality, health care, and legal protections against discrimination.

CNBC noted that heavy tobacco use in Oklahoma led the state to have one of the highest premature-death rates in the nation. Oklahoma also has one of the highest infant mortality rates, and has struggled with widespread mental health problems.

Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

The State of Oklahoma has drawn repeated criticism recently for leading the nation in funding cuts to K-12 public schools.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Emmanuel Garza moved from Texas to Colorado so his baby daughter could get the medical marijuana treatment she needed. Legislation to legalize the same treatment in Texas failed to pass during the regular legislative session.

By Alex Samuels, The Texas Tribune

Madelynn Garza had her first seizure at three months old.

The number of Native Americans without health insurance would increase sharply if Republicans in Congress succeed in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report.

ilmicrofono / Flickr Creative Commons

A Texas nonprofit recently injected a lot of life—and money—into the Texas public education system. The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation will put $50 million toward scholarships for teachers over the next decade.

A new math class being piloted by dozens of high schools across Kansas seeks to save students stress, time and money when they reach college.

Currently, about one-third of students who continue to two- and four-year colleges in Kansas don’t score high enough on placement tests to enroll directly in college algebra, a class most need in order to graduate.

Instead, they work their way up through remedial classes, a process that can take multiple semesters.

Ryan Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas ranks 41st among states when it comes to child educational achievement. That’s nothing new; Texas has hovered near the bottom in this category for years.

NAVFAC / Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to safety in the workplace, the State of Oklahoma has been given a grade of F. The failing grade, delivered by the National Safety Council, sent shockwaves through the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

As The Oklahoman reports, the finding received harsh criticism from State Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston.

The Gannon v. Kansas lawsuit is in its seventh year. In that time, the case has led to repeated rulings against the state for underfunding schools and responses by lawmakers in the form of appropriations bills.

kenny73116 / Wikimedia Commons

Overcrowding in Oklahoma’s prisons is still a major problem as the dog days of summer approach, and state Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh says he’s expecting an uprising or other serious event at some point.

And a recent editorial in The Oklahoman insists Director Allbaugh isn’t being dramatic.

“It's going to happen one way or the other,” Allabaugh said. “You can't keep packing people into facilities that are decrepit and expect everybody to behave.”

Pictures by Ann / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas is hoping to soon begin the work of cleaning up the nursing home industry in the state.

A recent AARP report determined that the condition of nursing homes in Texas was, on average “shamefully poor.” And, in a separate report from 2015, more than half of the long-term care facilities in the state received just one or two stars out of a possible five.

Twenty-four-year-old Kalee Woody says that when she was growing up in Bronaugh, Missouri, she saw the small town slowly fading. Businesses closed, growth stagnated and residents had to drive to other places to see a doctor.

It is a town that, like many towns in rural areas of Missouri and other Midwest and Great Plains states, is recognized by the federal government as having a shortage of healthcare providers.

CC0 Public Domain

HPPR wants our listeners to celebrate safely this Fourth of July, especially if you are an adult male or a child.

According to a press release from Kansas’ Office of the State Fire Marshal, adult males and children under the age of 18 are the most common victims of fireworks injuries - each group representing 40 percent of all reported fireworks-related injuries. 

Lawyers for Kansas and for dozens of school districts suing it filed briefs Friday at the Kansas Supreme Court, in what could be the final leg of a seven-year legal battle over school finance.

The state argues legislation passed early this month ratchets up annual state aid to schools by nearly $300 million over the next two years, and that should be enough to end the Gannon v. Kansas case once and for all. 

Students who complete an associate’s degree at Pratt Community College that prepares them to become electrical linemen earn just under $100,000 annually five years after graduation, according to a massive database now available online as an interactive tool. 

That is the fastest route to such high earnings among the more than 1,000 degree programs at Kansas’ 32 public two-year and four-year colleges and universities, a fact that doesn’t surprise the program’s director, David Campbell.

Divorce rate in Kansas reaches all-time low

Jun 27, 2017
Pixabay

Kansas’s divorce rate has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years, when the state began keeping annual records.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the divorce rate last year dropped to 2.6 per 1,000 persons and there were just under 7,200 divorces, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 

Those numbers have never been that low.

CREATIVE COMMONS

Texas Panhandle school districts are pleading with the state for more funding.

As The Amarillo Globe News reports, a wind farm, as well as several oil and natural gas wells in Roberts County, Texas has given independent school districts in Miami and Bushland a robust tax base to draw from for paying for teachers and buildings, but the tax roll was cut in half this last year as oil and gas prices decreased and a state aid provision districts rely on to guard against economic downturns expires in September.

The Oklahoman

The teacher crisis in Oklahoma doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, reports The Oklahoman.

Last year, Oklahoma was forced to certify 1,100 emergency teachers to plug unfilled jobs due to low pay and teachers moving out of state. This year, the state Board of Education has already approved 224 more emergency certificates. Emergency teachers are hired without the traditional training expected of a public-school teacher. These last-minute stop-gap educators are forced to learn on the job.

Dustyn Rappe / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma will soon make its statewide reading test more difficult, and the change could result in more students being forced to repeat the third grade.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the important, high-stakes test is already difficult for some. Last year, 12 percent of Oklahoma third graders received a grade of “unsatisfactory.”

CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

In his 26 years at Meade Unified School District 226, a 400-student district southwest of Dodge City, Superintendent Kenneth Harshberger has watched the educational landscape change. 
Teachers are harder to recruit — even for elementary jobs, which were traditionally easier to fill. 
“The first time I tried to hire an elementary teacher 25, 26 years ago, we had over 100 applicants,” he recalled. “Now I can’t get five applicants.” 

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