- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A collection of recent editorials from Oklahoma newspapers:


The Journal Record, Oklahoma City, Aug. 18 - The last wave of Oklahoma students returns to classrooms this week. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, most of them live in a dual-income household with married parents. About 90 percent of married fathers are in the workforce, as are 74.7 percent of married mothers with children between the ages of 6 and 17. The days of one parent waiting for the school bus with a platter of warm cookies and a cold glass of milk - wherever that might have happened - are gone.

Great thinkers have pondered the problems of one calendar for students and an entirely different calendar for workers. Such contemplation gave rise to year-round school calendars that provide the standard 180 instructional days and spread breaks throughout the year, many on a 45-on, 15-off cycle. It also gave rise to all-day schools, where students may attend from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., with late-afternoon classes available in subjects such as music, athletics and cooking, as well as remedial academic tutoring. Proponents contend low-income students spend all that free time on street corners with nothing but trouble for entertainment.

Those in favor cite better academic achievement, especially among underprivileged children. Some of the studies have shown that students from low-income families lose a lot of academic ground in the summertime; students from higher-income families who are more likely to spend their summers at private camps and completing reading challenges do not.

Other scholars decry modified school schedules, arguing that longer days and shorter breaks rob children of their childhoods. They contend that the traditional school calendar fosters valuable learning outside the classroom, providing time for parents to choose their own activities and allow their children to interact with nonclassmates.

Opponents to modified school schedules make one other intriguing claim: The business community would suffer if there wasn’t a pool of cheap, teenaged labor available to fill seasonal jobs.

There is another approach. The traditional school calendar doesn’t work today, and schools should continue to explore alternatives. But they should collaborate with the business community, which should be willing to evaluate work schedules, too. America is not a land of family-friendly workplaces, despite the occasional Silicon Valley outlier, and Oklahoma is no exception.

If Oklahoma’s school and business leaders worked together, we are confident they could devise a coordinated schedule that would result in well-cared-for, educated children and happy, motivated employees who weren’t constantly struggling to coordinate their children’s schedules with their own.


The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Aug. 18 - A judge’s decision declaring an abortion-drug law a “special law” in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution certainly disappointed those opposed to abortion on demand. But the ruling’s implications may extend further, even to the point of hindering efforts to combat drug addiction.

Last week, Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish overturned a state law regulating use of some abortion drugs. The law required that abortion drugs be administered in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration label instructions. Many of those drugs are now provided in ways that don’t comply with those guidelines. Since the law applied specifically to abortion-inducing drugs, Parrish ruled it amounted to an unconstitutional “special law,” citing a prior decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

This raises questions that extend well beyond abortion regulation. If the Legislature cannot pass laws that restrict the use of specific drugs under certain circumstances, then does that leave other similar laws subject to successful legal challenge?

One example that springs to mind is a law requiring that all pseudoephedrine products be placed behind the counter. That law imposes strict limits on the amount of pseudoephedrine an individual may purchase in a month, and requires tracking of purchasers.

That law treats similar medicines and customers in decidedly different fashion. Nonprescription allergy medicine without pseudoephedrine can be purchased with little difficulty. But that same consumer must jump through several hurdles to buy a nonprescription allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Both products treat the same problem. Both may provide the same benefit to the same customer. But the two products are treated very differently under state law. Does this make the pseudoephedrine restriction an unconstitutional “special law”?

The allergy medicine law was enacted to restrict the ability of methamphetamine cooks to obtain the tablet form of pseudoephedrine for illegal drug production. So there’s a public benefit associated with that law.

But defenders of the abortion drug law argue it benefited public safety as well, citing an increased chance of infection and other medical complications from nonlabel use of those drugs. Opponents argued the overwhelming majority of women making nonlabel use of abortion drugs didn’t suffer such complications. That’s true. But the vast majority of people buying allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine aren’t meth cooks. So where is the constitutional distinction between the two laws?

Or consider a law requiring doctors to check the Prescription Monitoring Program, an online state database, to review a patient’s narcotic prescriptions history before authorizing additional drugs. Doctors must now check the PMP the first time they prescribe for a patient, and then every 180 days thereafter.

Does the fact that doctors aren’t required to check the database every time they prescribe any medicine make it an unconstitutional “special law”? Under this system, it is conceivable similar patients with identical addiction problems would experience different outcomes. Someone engaged in “doctor shopping” to obtain narcotics might be identified in one doctor’s office at the 180-day mark. But another patient engaged in the same activity might evade detection because their doctor was not required to check prescription history if less than 180 days had passed.

There are times when lawmakers have valid reasons to impose different regulations for similar medical products. The courts must provide legal clarity and predictability regarding those efforts. As things stand now, the “special law” rulings emanating from Oklahoma courts may raise as many questions as they answer.


Tulsa World, Aug. 15 - Eighty years ago Saturday, Will Rogers, Oklahoma’s favorite son and the most quotable man in America, died in a plane crash in Alaska, along with famed aviator Wiley Post. The country went quiet at the loss of the Cherokee cowboy.

Born at Dog Iron Ranch in Indian Territory, Rogers was the nation’s premier wit and political satirist. Through his 4,000 syndicated columns, 71 movies and social commentary on radio, Rogers lifted Americans’ spirits, particularly during the depths of the Great Depression. A quote from Rogers still runs in the Tulsa World daily.

Rogers died too soon, but he’d anticipated the end, and had a few words to say about it:

“When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: ‘I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.’ I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.”

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