Education , Culture & the Family

Oklahoma educators should teach the success sequence

Brandon Dutcher | November 3, 2023

With Gov. Kevin Stitt having declared November to be “Family Month” in Oklahoma, I call your attention to a new policy brief (“A Pro-Family Handbook for Tennessee”) published by the Institute for Family Studies and the Ethics and Public Policy Center. In the report, scholar Patrick T. Brown makes some excellent recommendations for Tennessee—but they would also be good for Oklahoma policymakers to consider.

For example, he says the state Department of Education “could be directed to require that state education incorporates a family life standard into curriculum standards that would teach that:

  • A high school graduation, full-time work, and having children after marriage are linked to less poverty and greater prosperity for adults.

  • Sequencing marriage before parenthood is associated with greater family (and thus financial) stability.

  • A stable, married family is linked to better educational, social, and emotional outcomes for parents and children, many of which are associated with more positive financial outcomes.

“It could also include basic facts about fertility, work-life balance, home economics, happiness, and human flourishing. These topics could be incorporated into its health and safety high school graduation requirements or supplement its required units of career-focused electives. And informing students in high school about fetal development, such as when a heartbeat is detectable or when a fetus’ fingerprints form, could help underscore the state’s commitment to protecting the value of every human life.

“The Department of Education and school districts could also be directed to collect student academic data by family structure, in addition to race and other demographic characteristics, to give researchers better insights into the value of a stable home environment on student achievement.”

Brown says state lawmakers could also direct the state Department of Education “to require that public schools create policies that restrict students from being on their phone in class, such as by physically relinquishing them at the classroom door or slipping them inside temporary pouches. This policy can give students space from the pressures of online socialization and allow them to focus on their academic work.”

Brandon Dutcher Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher

Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine,,, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.

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