HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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

Alexa Ura / Texas Tribune

When it comes to police shootings, it’s rare for an officer in Texas to be disciplined or charged with a crime.

As The Texas Tribune reports, almost 900 officers were involved in police shootings in Texas’ largest cities between 2010 and 2015. Of those, only seven faced criminal charges for pulling the trigger. And not a single one has been convicted of a crime.

Michael Schumacher / Amarillo Globe-News

West Texas A&M University in Canyon has formally named a successor to departing president J. Patrick O’Brien. The new president, Walter V. Wendler, is the former chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Wendler will start with a salary of over $335,000. As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, Amarillo-native Don Powell headed a search committee that recommended Wendler after narrowing a pool of more than 70 applicants.

FrankieLeon / Flickr Creative Commons

The federal government has announced it will distribute $53 million dollars to 44 states and four tribes to help fight opioid addiction, reports The Rural Blog.

Charles Bertram / Lexington Herald-Leader

A program in Kentucky could be used as a template for how to improve rural health care costs nationwide, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

A new initiative by the University of Kentucky has found that offering employees a share in a local farm harvest could impact health care costs.

Spencer Selvidge / Texas Tribune

A new study predicts that, within the next ten years, Texas will lead the nation in sicknesses linked to ozone-forming pollutants.

These pollutants are a byproduct of oil and gas activity, reports The Texas Tribune.


When it comes to per-pupil spending, Oklahoma ranks 47th out of the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state spends less than $9,000 per student per year. That puts Oklahoma well below the national average of nearly $12,400. Oklahoma also spends less than its neighboring states on students, reports News 9.

Ted S. Warren / AP photo

Nationwide, more Americans are dying in car crashes recently. But that’s not the case in Kansas, reports The Kansas City Star.

From 2014 to 2015, the U.S. saw an increase in traffic fatalities of just over seven percent, the largest year-over-year increase since 1966. But the numbers in the Sunflower State declined at almost the same rate. Kansas highway fatalities fell 7.8 percent from 2014 to 2015.


For years, Kansas has had a problem: How does the state keep college graduates from moving away and taking jobs elsewhere?

For example, of the 2008 class from Wichita State University, 70% were employed in Kansas a year later, in 2009. Since then those numbers have dropped every year, landing at only 57% of grads from that class still emplued in the state as of last year.

“The fact that they stay here and then after five years they migrate away, means that we’re probably not addressing what they’re looking for,” said Tony Vizzini of Wichita State.

AP photo

Kansas now has 11 reported cases of Zika, reports The Wichita Eagle. In response to the threat, the state has been drawing upon federal dollars to aid in the battle against the virus.

To date, Kansas has received about $1.2 million to fight the virus, which can cause birth defects when it infects pregnant women.

Mike Hutmacher / The Wichita Eagle

Kansas schools are among the best in the country, reports The Wichita Eagle. But The Sunflower State ought to have a look over its shoulder, as other states are gaining ground and Kansas may be slipping.

According to a new education report card by the Kansas Association of School Boards, there are signs the state’s ranking could soon fall.

Kansas Hospital Association

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s tax plan for hospitals has come under fire from a prominent member of the Kansas health community.

Rural Blog

Nearly half of the counties in the United States lack an obstetrician or gynecologist, reports The Rural Blog. Most of these counties are rural.

Wichita Eagle

After a year of frustrations, Kansas educators have cause to celebrate. On the ACT college entrance exam, Kansas high school students continue to score better than their peers in most other states.

mxmstryo / Flickr Creative Commons

The system for catching dangerous pathogens in America’s food supply appears to be working, according to QZ.com.


A recent complaint filed with the NAACP alleges that Kansas community colleges discriminate against minority students, reports The Lawrence Journal-World.

Colleges in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference still use a recruitment rule that was adopted during the segregation era. The rule limits community colleges to 20 out-of-state players on their football teams and eight on their basketball rosters.


Oklahoma is struggling with a drastic teacher shortage, reports KOCO.

According to a recent survey Oklahoma districts have eliminated over 1,500 teaching positions since last school year. The state has also gotten rid of almost 1,400 school support positions. This amounts to a total of almost 3,000 education jobs lost in Oklahoma this year.

Last year, as a result of state budget cuts, Oklahoma school districts eliminated more than 2,000 positions.

Huffington Post

Yesterday HPPR reported on how pregnancy-related deaths in Texas doubled in the year after the state cut funding to women’s health programs. Now, as the Huffington Post reports, Texas is just an extreme snapshot of the United States’ bigger maternal mortality problem.

Illusive Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Five years ago Texas slashed funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health programs. That same year, a new study shows, the state experienced a sudden and dramatic spike in pregnancy-related deaths.

Tom Fox / Dallas Morning News

Oklahoma’s teachers are increasingly deciding to make the move to Texas, reports The Dallas Morning-News.

The teachers are being drawn away by better pay and a more appealing retirement system. For teachers from the two states, the differences are stark. Starting pay in most Oklahoma districts is just over $30,000. In several Dallas-area districts, the pay starts at over $50,000.

Rural Blog

In rural counties across the U.S., the number of women being incarcerated has significantly increased in recent years, according to The Rural Blog. Four out of five of those inmates are being imprisoned for nonviolent crimes.


Colorado has a proposed single-payer health plan on the ballot in November. Amendment 69 would create a state-run health-care system, funded both by taxes and by transferring money out of various federal programs.

As KDVR reports, the money would go directly into the coffers of ColoradoCare, the state’s health program. The government-run health insurer would be the first of its kind in the country. The proposal is expected to cost more than $30 billion.

David Pike / Valley Morning Star/AP

Private prisons are less safe and secure than Federal prisons, according to a new report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Novartis AG / Flickr Creative Commons

This week, a Texas resident caught Zika in Florida and brought it home, according to health officials in Texas. This means Zika's now spreading from state to state, reports NBC News.

This is just more evidence that, once the disease infects people in an area, it can easily spread. The traveler picked up the disease in Miami, where 30 cases have been reported. However, there's no evidence the virus is spreading in Florida like it has across Latin America.


A Tulsa World story about rural poverty in Oklahoma has been garnering a good deal of attention over the past week and a half. Nationwide, poverty is more of an issue for rural dwellers than urban Americans.

Fifteen percent of the rural U.S. population lives in poverty, compared to 12 percent of the urban population.

Wikimedia Commons

In some parts of rural America, the shortage of mental health professionals has reached crisis level. Yet many states still refuse to support mental health through tax dollars. Experts say America today needs more than 30,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists. Yet the country has fewer than a third of that number, And the need is rising, reports The Rural Blog.

Patrick Michels / Texas Observer

After decades of being restricted, abortion access is on the rise again in Texas, reports The Texas Observer.

Rural Blog

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently drew criticism for releasing ratings of almost 4,000 hospitals nationwide. The hospital industry objected that the rankings were unfair and overly simplistic.

Topeka Capital-Journal

This week Kansas’s education commissioner lamented the state’s graduation rate. Commissioner Randy Watson said Kansas must work with students and families to improve high school graduation rates, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal.

University of Houston/KHOU

College can be extremely isolating and stressful. Some students begin drinking too much or turn to drugs, and some even consider suicide. When Texas students find themselves in dire straits, their options are limited.

The counseling centers at Texas universities are understaffed. According to KERA News and The Texas Tribune, many counselors say they’re frustrated by their inability to reach students.


Oklahoma and Texas residents are among the worst drivers in the US, according to a new study. As SmartAsset.com reports, the Lone Star State has the ninth worst drivers in America. Meanwhile, Oklahoma fared even worse, ranking third.

Texas has the highest percentage of deaths coming from drunk drivers, at 40%.