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Study Ranks Oklahoma 36th In Nation In Raising Kids

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An annual report detailing the well-being of children in each state was released Tuesday. Oklahoma received an overall ranking of 36th from the Kids Count Data Book which uses 16 indicators in its rankings system.

"We did improve one percentage point,” said Joe Dorman of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, “We did move from 37th in the nation to 36th. So, while we're happy that we're taking the right path there's still far more work to be done."

According to the annual study, distributed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation:

         67% of our fourth graders are not proficient in reading

         77% of 8th graders are not proficient in math

As for teen pregnancy, we're much higher than the national average with 35 teen births per 1,000.

"We still rank close to the top of the nation when you look at the numbers of early teens,” Dorman said. “Then 17-to-19-year-olds, we're right there in the top 2-or-3 always."

The economy is still an issue, with 22% of our state's children living in poverty. 

"Nationally the economy is improving and some of that is spilling into Oklahoma,” Dorman said. “But all of this comes back to home and we've got to make sure our legislature is focused on creating those jobs." 

That takes money, and the state doesn’t have it. We already expect a $400 million budget shortfall next year, and a lawsuit from big tobacco could tie up $350 million in the courts. 

"It's imperative the legislature come back in and address those concerns," Dorman said. "We can't afford for these agencies to take massive cuts." 

Parents like Sara Forsythe of Oklahoma City say it's up to state leaders to prioritize our spending.

“I think time, energy, money, it shows where priorities are and if we're not making those things a priority the numbers will reflect that," said Forsythe.

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