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

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The flu is taking a heavy toll on the state of Oklahoma this season. According to KFOR, 74 people have died from the outbreak since Sept. 1. Meanwhile, the state has seen over 2,000 hospitalizations resulting from the viral infection, which has been wreaking havoc across the U.S.

Oklahoma pharmacist Dani Lynch said medicine is becoming harder to find in the Sooner State.

Wallethub

The personal finance website Wallethub has released a list of the best and worst states for driving, and High Plains Public Radio states took the top three spots on the list.

To come up with their list, Wallethub compared states according to 23 key metrics, including average gas prices, share of rush-hour traffic congestion, and road quality.

Income that doesn’t come close to the poverty line. Persistent job insecurity. Shifting schedules and irregular hours. Cumbersome barriers to state assistance meant for the neediest Kansans.

A new report from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paints a stark picture of the Kansas welfare system.

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Oklahoma has had the largest increase in foster homes in the nation over the past five years, according to a new study.

As KFOR reports, the study—the first of its kind—was initiated to investigate the increasing number of foster kids in America each year and the concurrent decrease in foster homes.

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The Amarillo Independent School District has voted to shorten the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The school will now be known simply as Lee Elementary School. The school’s name had been a touch point in the community, where many parents felt that the school being named after a Confederate General would ostracize students of color.

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The national Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, will live to see another day, meaning 800 pregnant women and over 75,000 kids in Colorado will keep health coverage.

As The Denver Post reports, CHIP, or as it’s referred to in Colorado, Child Health Plan Plus, provides health coverage to kids and pregnant women from families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to reasonably afford private coverage.

The U.S. Department of Education has thrown its weight behind a Kansas school plan that aims for much higher rates of math and reading proficiency by 2030.

 

Initial feedback from the federal agency on Kansas’ 90-page blueprint for closing achievement gaps had been lackluster, forcing the state to revise it.

Eddie Seal / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education, addressing federal concerns about the state's failure to serve students with disabilities.

From The Texas Tribune:

The Texas Education Agency released a preliminary plan for reforming special education Thursday.

A pay gap that left Kansas professors trailing their peers for more than a decade grew wider last year.

A new report from the Kansas Board of Regents confirmed that the state pays its academics less than the public colleges and universities they compete against.

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The number of adults taking and passing the GED exam in Texas has plummeted recently, reports the Jacksonville Progress. The General Education Development test serves as a stand-in for a high-school diploma, for students who dropped out or failed to graduate.

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Amarillo College President Russell Lowery-Hart participated in a Senate panel discussion on student financial aid this week in the nation’s capital, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Lowery-Hart sat on a panel with other education policymakers, who took questions from Senators on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The committee hopes to find solutions regarding the nation’s financial-aid woes.

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The Texas Tribune recently profiled the Regional Medical Center in Childress as one of a shrinking number of medical facilities in the rural Texas Panhandle that still has the capacity to deliver babies.

The Medical Center’s labor and delivery unit delivers roughly 200 babies per year.

Almost the same number of Texans who signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the last enrollment period signed up this time, according to the federal government. The figure took experts by surprise because there were federal cuts in funding for outreach and assistance.

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Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec is making a strong push to recruit students from small towns and rural regions of West Texas, reports The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

The President has been touring small towns in the region, including Roosevelt, Idalou and Crosbyton, to promote Tech to high school students there.

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Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin says a false emergency alert like the one that happened in Hawaii last weekend would not be possible in the Sooner State, reports KOKI.

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Over the past decade, language classes have been disappearing from Oklahoma public schools, reports Oklahoma Watch.

As of last year, a quarter of high schools across the state had eliminated world language classes altogether. The result: hundreds of graduating classes filled with students who’ve missed out on a key component that could better prepare them for college and higher earnings in the job market.

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It’s no secret that rural Americans don’t have enough options when it comes to health care. In fact, life expectancies for rural Americans have been dropping. Meanwhile, rural Americans are at more likely to die from each of the five leading causes of death in America.

In places where the unemployment rate is well below the national average — states like Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa — one would think it’d be easier for communities to recruit new residents to fill open jobs.

But the housing market works against rural towns and cities where jobs often stay open because there are too few affordable homes and apartments to buy or rent, or the ones that are affordable need lots of TLC. It’s a situation that threatens to turn low unemployment from an advantage into a liability.

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The Federal Government ruled last week that Texas Education officials illegally denied special education services to students across the state, reports The Austin American-Statesman.

The ruling rejected a long-ago decision by the Texas Education Agency that placed a cap on how many students in the state can be eligible for special education services.

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According to the latest numbers for incarceration rates across the U.S., Oklahoma held the second highest per capita incarceration rate among all states.

As KFOR reports, in 2016 Oklahoma incarcerated 673 people per 100,000 residents. That lands the state second behind only Louisiana, which imprisons a staggering 760 per 100,000. By comparison, Texas imprisons 563 per 100,000 and Colorado imprisons only 356. The national average is around 400 per hundred thousand.

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The City of Amarillo is considering getting rid of the 22,000 dumpsters that dot the city and replacing them with individual 95-gallon plastic carts that would be rolled to the curb by Amarillo residents. The carts would then be emptied by trucks with robotic grabbers.

The Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday approved two new pilot programs for educating teachers to address Kansas’ teacher shortage.

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Kansas schools currently spend more per pupil than any state in the High Plains Public Radio listening area, according to Federal data.

And as The Tulsa World reports, Oklahoma continues to spend the least amount per student of any state in the region. Oklahoma only spends about $8,000 per year on its students.

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The Amarillo Police Department will soon begin employing the use of body cameras, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

On Tuesday the Amarillo City Council approved the use of 11 body-worn cameras to be used by the department’s motorcycle unit.

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In recent years, the number of deaths in Texas linked to pregnancy and childbirth has grown a staggering amount. By some measures, Texas now has the highest maternal death rate in the developed world.

Yet, as a new editorial in the Dallas Morning News reports, Texas has another, related problem: No one knows exactly how many women are dying.

Shelby Tauber / The Texas Tribune

  Texas Health and Human Services officials announced Monday that they are receiving $47.7 million to begin needed construction for existing state hospitals, some of which are more than a century old.

From The Texas Tribune:

Texas leaders are taking the first steps to make long-awaited fixes to state hospitals built in the 19th and 20th centuries that serve Texans who need mental health services.  

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At a meeting with state legislators in Garden City Saturday, citizens questioned the Supreme Court's school funding decision. The legislators said they accept the court’s decision, but will at least consider amending the Kansas state constitution.

The meeting was Garden City’s first Legislative Coffee of the new year and was attended by three local lawmakers: John Doll and John Wheeler, both of Garden City, and Steve Alford of Ulysses.

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Black babies in Oklahoma are twice as likely to die before their first birthday than white or Hispanic infants, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.

Shoring up rural America’s economy must start with broadband access and technology, a federal task force says in a report released Monday.

The group, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and made up of other Cabinet members, says doing so will bring rural areas increased health care access, better job training, smart electrical grids and more precision farming technology. Little of that can be accomplished, the report says, without closing the broadband gap between urban and rural residents.

Kansas set lofty goals for its public schools in the next dozen years – but the Trump administration and independent experts suggest the state’s plan is as vague as it is ambitious.

The state’s plan lacks concrete details on closing academic gaps in its public schools, so much so that federal officials and outside reviewers question the state’s compliance with civil rights law that demands all children get fair learning opportunities.

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