Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive September 2016 Show 1638 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1638

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1638

This week on “Oklahoma Horizon,” our focus is on education, but education in some very different places.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1638

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1638

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Office of Juvenile Affairs



Oklahoma Department of Corrections

OSU - Institutional Diversity

Tim Clue

Show Details

Show 1638: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: September 18, 2016



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Today, our focus is on education, but education in some very different places. We begin in a juvenile correction facility where through skills training, hopes are to break the cycle of crime and punishment before it ever starts.

Keith Musick: We’re trying to change these guys’ lives. We’re trying to make them better men, prepare them for real-world situations, prepare them to get a job, prepare them to re-enter society and be productive.

Rob: Austin Moore takes us to Ada, Oklahoma, to look at an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent drug and alcohol offenders.

Tom Landrith: When you rate No. 1 in locking up women, there’s only two conclusions you can draw: either women in Oklahoma are meaner than anybody else or there’s something wrong with the system.

Rob: We change gears a bit to look at the role diversity plays in education.

Jason Kirksey: It has always been important, and we began to recognize the value of it more recently.

Rob: And we end our day with a light-hearted look at the difference between what teachers say and what they may mean.

Oh, yes, Cole, he’s a handful.

Rob: Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by CareerTech – a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company; with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. Well, there is growing consensus that Oklahoma can no longer afford to approach crime and punishment as it has. Each year, we imprison more people per capita than 47 of the 50 states, and the cost – over $20,000 a head annually. But a program targeting juvenile offenders hopes to break the all too typical cycle of crime and punishment. Our Blane Singletary shows us how.

Blane Singletary: Out here in Weatherford, in these tranquil surroundings, you probably couldn’t tell that this is a group home for juvenile offenders.

Kent Roof: This is one of our Level E group homes. It’s kind of a step down program for these incarcerated juveniles to step down from an OJA facility and institution.

Blane: Kent Roof is regional director of Skills Centers for CareerTech. And skills training is the focus of the Cedar Canyon Adventure Program.

Roof: This is a holistic approach to making our students successful.

Blane: All of the facilities on the grounds here are designed to build up these 16 to 18 year olds in such a way that they won’t repeat the same mistakes that got them here. And one of the main ways they do that is by building things themselves. Wes Warren is the program director for Cedar Canyon.

Wes Warren: They’re here because they made some poor decisions, but they’re also here to try to get their life back together.

Blane: These boys enter this program in the last seven months of their sentence, and for many of them, this is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Warren: We teach them some job skills so they go back into their community and hopefully go into a construction component, a job site or restaurant whatever it may be.

Blane: No matter what career path they decide to take, the hope is that they will use what they’ve learned here in the shop. Keith Musick is the instructor.

Keith Musick: If there’s anything that they’re gonna be, they can be an astronaut, they can be a scientist, they can be an artist, they can be whatever they want to be, but one thing they’re gonna be is incredibly useful. If all the power goes out, they’re gonna know how to build and fix things with their hands. And that’s what we teach here, it’s a foundation and a basic set of skills that allow you to feel useful and be proud of the skills that you’ve built.

Blane: And while one might not think these young men would ever want to pick up a hammer and saw, many of them have really taken to this program.

Omar: Learning’s gotta be my favorite part, just getting into it. You know, doing all this and doing everything we do right now you see. That’s my favorite part, just getting my hands on and all that stuff, you know.

Malik: I’ve built a lot of cabinets since I’ve been here, took them all to my grandma’s.

Dominic: I could be having a bad day, but as soon as I step out in the shop or like other things, get my mind off those bad things. It definitely helps out a lot here.

Blane: And it isn’t just busy work. In their time here, they can work on becoming certified carpenters, earn their GED and carry it forward to more skills training or straight into a job. Counselor Bethany Armentrout says this variety of activities is exactly what these teens need.

Bethany Armentrout: There’s so much need for exposure in different areas to target different things. Even though they’re standing, you know, using a hammer or a drill or a miter saw, Mr. Musick does a fantastic job on exposing them to leadership opportunities, teaching them how to work together, troubleshoot things. It’s conflict resolution even though they may not be in my office terming it that way. They’re working through that in all arenas.

Blane: Certification is a plus, but it’s the skills they learn off-paper that can be the most important.

Musick: The biggest part in what we do is not the tool use. I tell them if they get out of this program and they know how to swing a hammer, they know how to use a saw, that’s all well and good. But it’s more important to me that they leave here better men. It’s more important to me that they learn how to communicate with people properly, with one another properly – that they know how to walk in and be professional and be courteous and how to speak confidently.

Blane: Programs like the one at Cedar Canyon don’t just give these teens a clean slate. They fill in that slate with the skills they will need on the outside, to stay on the outside, and that’s a challenge. According to “Oklahoma Watch,” one-third of juveniles placed in Level E group home facilities like this one re-offended later in life. But with this program still in its early days and the people behind it standing by to help even after these boys are released, there is hope that those numbers can turn around.

Armentrout: The kids need us. So many times in their lifetime, they couldn’t count on anyone. Someone said that they were gonna come through for them in one way or another and didn’t do it. I come here because there’s 16 boys dependent on that, and it’s not just me. They depend on all of us to be here, working together to help them.

Roof: You know, CareerTech can’t do it. Family counseling can’t service, but all of us together we can do it, make an improvement, and help these guys be successful.

Blane: They say it takes a village to raise a child, and from what many here are saying, that holds true for those who need to be raised back up.

Musick: We’re trying to change these guys’ lives. We’re trying to make them better men — prepare them for real-world situations, prepare them to get a job, prepare them to re-enter society and be productive, be positive, be professional. That’s what I’m here for, and that’s what this program is all about.

Rob: When we return, helping those in the deadly grip of addiction.

Female Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon” with Rob McClendon – weekly insight into your changing world.

Rob McClendon: Well, the state is set to receive close to a million dollars from the federal government to battle opioid abuse. Drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma increased eightfold from 1999 to 2012, many of these from powerful prescription painkillers. Now, Oklahoma is one of 11 states with a dramatic increase in the abuse of heroin and other legal opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone. According to the latest national statistics, Oklahoma has the 10th highest drug poisoning death rate, surpassing the number of people killed in car accidents each year.

Rob McClendon: Well, breaking the cycle of addiction is one of the goals of a program in Ada, Oklahoma, called SOAR. Our Austin Moore shows us how the group is using our state motto of “Labor conquers all” to change lives.

Austin Moore: Judge Tom Landrith has seen the cycle too many times.

Tom Landrith: We put drug addicts in the penitentiary and they come out better drug addicts than when we put them in.

Austin: Because of that frustration, Judge Landrith helped establish the Pontotoc County Drug Court in 1997, where participants opt to sign a contract agreeing to go through treatment in a court administered program or submit to lengthy jail time.

Landrith: A lot of the terms of the contract are pretty complicated, but as far as what you get if you do not fulfill your end of the contract, it is really simple. It’ll say drug court or 30 years. I’ve had three that were drug court or life. And as a general rule, I think the average would be about 9.6 years. It is a pretty harsh sentence because we are gonna invest a lot of time and as many resources as we can into your recovery, and it’s a 24-month program.

Austin: The National Association of Drug Court Professionals reports that for every dollar spent on a drug court, taxpayers save $3.36 on incarceration costs. But when they went looking for that dollar, Judge Landrith and his peers came to a freeing realization.

Landrith: We could use the recovery program for the men to help fund the drug court itself. And we formed two 501(3)(c) corporations to put that in motion.

Austin: Creating the Southern Oklahoma Addiction Recovery Center, or SOAR. Doug Davis is the executive director.

Doug Davis: SOAR is a therapeutic work program. We take nonviolent drug offenders. We’re a minimum of a six-month program to one year. We have employers that we put guys to work. So their earnings go directly to the facility while they are here. It pays for their room and board, their counseling groups, transportation and such.

Austin: The core of the program is straightforward. It is to remind these men through work what it is to feel useful.

Davis: The guys will come in and tell me, “I ain’t never worked before.” Because I ask them what kind of work they do? What kind of skills do you have? And you’ll be surprised how many will tell you, “I’ve never had a job.” And I’m talking 25-30-year-old men has never had a job. Their job was to sell drugs and hustle things on the street. And that’s what they’ll tell me. And placing them at a job, you can see the change in ‘em. You can see the change in ‘em when we get those doors of opportunity opened up for ‘em. You know, even if it is just going down to Leachco and working eight hours a day. It’s something they have never done before but yet they feel good about theirself. And they’ll sit, and we’ll talk about it in groups. And they tell me how they feel about theirself, of actually going and earning their keep, earning their way – paying their way while they’re here.

Austin: Over the years, the success of SOAR and similar programs has been undeniable. Unfortunately, these programs are usually only available to men, so Pontotoc County leaders recently opened the Landrith House, a sober living facility for women.

Davis: It’s not ran like the men’s facility, but it is a structured environment, very structured environment for a sober living home.

Austin: Unlike the SOAR house, the women here get jobs where they earn their own money and then pay their way in the facility. However, just like the men’s program, Landrith House is dedicated to keeping the women busy and engaged in community activity while helping them develop new habits and new options, an opportunity for change that gives Laura Robuck hope to rebuild the family that drugs tore apart.

Laura Robuck: It helps a lot. That’s what I couldn’t do going back to the same county. Yeah, I needed to get out. I couldn’t stay there, not without my husband and my children, not being able to have my family.

Austin: A change of habit and of setting that is so crucial to drug recovery.

Davis: I hate to see it when guys roll out of here and they have to go back to the same place that they just came out of, you know. Because the majority of ‘em don’t stay, can’t stay straight. Can’t fight it off. I know people that don’t know anything about drugs or addiction don’t really realize that and they think, well, “If you went and did six months, you’ve been clean for six months, why can’t you stay straight?” Well, you’re an addict, you know, or you’re an alcoholic. And if you go back and place yourself right back in the same position that you was at, it’s like going to the barbershop. You go sit in there enough times, you are going to get a haircut.

Austin: Often leaving the best option building a new life in a new community, which is what Landrith House, like SOAR, hopes to jump-start.

Landrith: This facility will hold six. And then we’ll do another one and put some more in there and gradually get it up where we take up the whole block. We may start out small, but we think big.

Austin: A lofty goal to deal with a massive problem.

Landrith: When you’re ranked No. 1 in locking up women, there’s only two conclusions you can draw, you know: either women in Oklahoma are meaner than anybody else or there’s something wrong with the system.

Rob: To put programs like SOAR into perspective, it costs roughly $6,000 a year to educate a student and almost four times that amount to keep someone locked up. Now, if you’d like to learn more about the work underway to find alternatives to incarceration, I have the personal story of SOAR product Doug Davis, as well as several of our past justice reform stories streaming on our website under our value added section.

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” what teachers think versus what they say.

Tim Clue: He never shuts up. He never shuts up. Wait, wait, that’s it, I’ll say his incessant talking is good expression.

Female Announcer: But first, the role of diversity in education.

Rob McClendon: Well, Oklahoma State University is being nationally recognized for its commitment to diversity. For the fifth year in a row OSU has won the award from the “Insight into Diversity” magazine. Now, earlier, OSU’s Vice President for Institutional Diversity Jason Kirksey visited with me about benefits diversity can bring any university.

Rob McClendon: Dr. Kirksey, how important is diversity, not only in education, but in the workforce?

Jason Kirksey: Diversity is an aspect of society, Rob, that has always been important, and we began to recognize the value of it more recently. But it certainly gives us an opportunity, as I like to say, to cultivate excellence, you know, having different perspectives, different ideas, different thoughts about solving certainly issues that we see at the institution as we prepare students to go out into the world, but also once they’re out into the workforce and the ability to make a variety of contributions. Again, solving, you know, a lot of the problems that we see, particularly on a world scale.

Rob: Have we closed the gap when it comes to people of color, when it comes to just bringing them into the conversation?

Kirksey: We’re doing better. As I like to say, “We’re a work in progress, and there’s always work to continue to do.” And so we have certainly made good progress, but there’s more that we can do to integrate the variety of perspectives and ideas, in, that go into solving a lot of the issues that we see today, both at a university level as well as a societal level.

Rob: I want to get your perspective on not only the Black Lives Matter Movement, but also some of the things we’ve been seeing on the college campuses, some of the protests. There are a fair amount of people that would say to me that, “I thought we were past that.”

Kirksey: Yes. And a lot of that is awareness and understanding and recognition. And the Black Lives Matter Movement in particular, I think, has brought a broader sense of awareness. You know, those issues are new that we see that are being focused on, this level of activism and social engagement is something that is, I think, new for this generation and has captured the attention of much broader segments of society and has certainly been good because it elicits conversations that typically we wouldn’t have or we would just make the assumption that things are fine and everybody’s doing well. And what this movement has done is, is heighten that sense of awareness and allowed us really, in many ways, for instance, to take deeper looks at issues. Particularly issues of race, which spreads into other issues of gender and religion and other types of diversity in society. So the movement has really required us to re-evaluate perspectives on where we are.

Rob: So do disparities still exist in higher education?

Kirksey: They do. You know, one of my roles as the chief diversity officer is to make sure that we’re working to create fair and equitable opportunities for, certainly in the student context, for every student that shows up on campus to have an equal opportunity to achieve the goals and dreams that they came to Oklahoma State University for.

Rob: We often focus on the economy here on “Horizon.” I want you to tell me why diversity is important for the bottom line for today’s companies.

Kirksey: Well, I think Rob, the Fortune 500 companies have demonstrated to us for probably half a century now the value of diversity. You know, diverse populations and organizations employees tend to be more creative and innovative. They tend to be more empowered and feel better about doing the jobs that they are responsible for doing. And ultimately, that produces a better product, be it automobiles or computers. And so there’s a real value for organizations to achieve diversity because it truly does impact the bottom line.

Rob: So let’s take that one step further. What is the value of higher ed in contributing to diversity and the workplace?

Kirksey: Well, certainly as an institution our responsibility as a land grant is to improve the quality of life, of the citizens, the state, the nation and the world. And so that means that we have to make sure that we are open and accessible to anyone who aspires to earn a higher education degree that meets the admission standards of OSU. And in that, we’re able to work with companies through certainly various programs and career services to help them satisfy their desires to employ a diverse workforce. And so creating essentially that pipeline of diverse employees that go out into the workforce ready and prepared, whether that first job is in Oklahoma City or Tulsa or Dubai or Beijing. And so the institution, as it has always been the case for higher ed institutions, you’re preparing citizens to go out into the workforce and have a significant and measurable impact and contribute to making society better.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much. Dr. Jason Kirksey is the vice president of diversity for Oklahoma State University.

Rob: Well, OSU is home to more than 70 diversity-related student organizations as well as supporting K-12 programs that help minority students transition into college.

Female Announcer: “Horizon” is at your fingertips – join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to catch the segments you may have missed and our latest new content as it happens.

Rob McClendon: Tim Clue likes to call himself the unlikely teacher. A self-described terrible student, Clue went on to become a university instructor, comic and motivational speaker. So when he sent us his own third-grade report card, we just had to share his trip down memory lane.


Tim Clue: So, yeah, actually this is kind of crazy. I, uh, stumbled across my, my actual third-grade report card. Yeah, that’s really it. Nah, nah, don’t read, don’t get ahead of me. Now, I think this first one is a bit of a tell. I mean, I mean you’ll get it. Ah, yes, a live wire. My mom used to call me a handful. Oh, yes, Cole, he’s a handful. Sure, but what she wanted to write down was, [pause]. Yeah, yeah, like that. Yeah! Definitely that. OK, get a load of this one. [Pause] This here is every teacher’s desperate search just to think of one nice thing to say. Just one! She’s like, “He never shuts up; he never shuts up!” Wait, wait, that’s it! I’ll say his incessant talking is, is, good expression! Yes! That will work! Which is much nicer than this. [Pause] All right what’s next here? [Pause] Uh huh, sure – my wife said that to me yesterday. Really? Look, look, look right here. We see [Pause] what almost feels like a confession. Look how she runs out of room even trying to explain herself. I mean even the writing looks painful. But really, duct tape, hallway, I mean “snake eye” – a teacher’s got to have tools. And I didn’t blame her, in fact I think she should have just written down what she wanted to say. “I know why you’re so happy when you drop him off.” Oh, and now, this last one – oh boy this is just so layered. [Pause] See what I mean? No, it would have not made a difference. The poor woman is just doubting herself, wishing for a more, you know, relaxing career like [Pause] yeah, could have done that. OK, [Pause] storm chaser, come on, fun! I mean look, all those, they’re stressful, yes, but compared to a third-grade classroom? Piece of cake! So thank you, Mrs. Alberts and teachers everywhere. This is one live wire who can never thank you enough.

Rob: To learn more about the unlikely teacher, you can visit him at

Female Announcer: Want to see more stories like this? All our segments are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV.

Rob McClendon: Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we look at immigration through the perspective of a one-time illegal immigrant.

Akash Patel: It would be that immigrants are just like you. We are people who just want to be here for a better life, contribute, do the right thing, grow our families and our communities and be good people, be citizens just like you.

Rob: On Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Thanks for including us as a part of your day. I’m Rob McClendon. Hope to see you back here next week.

Female Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education — with additional support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.