Orli Avi-Yonah & Reuven Avi-Yonah

Orli Avi-Yonah is a clinical psychologist who is consultant to the Family Assessment Clinic at the University of Michigan. Reuven Avi-Yonah is professor of law at the University of Michigan. They are on an extended road trip through the U.S. South and Southwest, interviewing people on their experience of the American dream.

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What’s the Matter with Oklahoma?

Oklahoma was once a center of left-populism. Could it be that again?

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
The teacher’s strike in Oklahoma has been a long time coming. When we traveled through the state in February as part of a research project, everyone we spoke with was concerned about education. We talked with parents of children in both public and private schools, and with recent high school graduates. They all agreed the situation was abysmal. Teacher salaries were among the lowest in the country and teachers were moving across the state line to Texas, where they could earn tens of thousands more. Children were graduating without knowing basic facts of American history and politics. When we visited the moving memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing victims, we learned that most school children in the state cannot come and visit it because of lack of funding for buses. In Tulsa, people told us that the most important reason businesses are reluctant to move there, despite the city’s storied history and magnificent cultural institutions, was concern about providing high-...