Early childhood education; long-term, strategic funding among Chamberís Education & Workforce legislative priorities
The Chamber recently released its legislative agenda for 2019. Get more details on our Education & Workforce Development priorities below:
Early Childhood Education
The Chamber steadfastly supports early childhood education and full funding of pre-K and kindergarten programs. Targeted spending on our youngest children is simply a smart investment. The Chamber supports legislative initiatives to maintain early childhood education programs and initiatives.
Long-Term, Strategic Education Funding
The Chamber supports development of a long-term, strategic plan that will enable improvement in classroom teaching and academic performance. We encourage development of detailed legislation that will address the teacher shortage by rewarding teacher performance and experience or incentivizes teachers to work in high priority areas.
Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention
Oklahoma and the nation have a teacher shortage. Oklahoma’s teacher preparation system needs to be improved in order to train, attract and retain high-quality teachers. We support the review/revision of policies/laws to improve the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers. This includes support of other alternative pathways, such as Teach for America, that enhance the diversity and skill sets in the teaching profession.
Education Funding Transparency
Business leaders want education funding to focus on improving quality of instruction in the classroom. We support efforts to increase funding transparency that makes it easier to understand per-pupil spending and ensure that as much funding as possible goes directly to classroom activity.
Longitudinal Data System
The business community encourages development and implementation of a new pre-K to 20 longitudinal data system that will measure performance and progress. A working system would measure the progress, challenges and success of our education systems from early childhood through higher education and into employment. Accurate data would enhance critical programmatic and funding decisions.
Public Charter Schools
The Chamber supports charter schools and education choices. Charter schools are public schools, with public school students and are required to adhere to Oklahoma statutes and performance standards. We support creating high-quality charter schools and enabling successful charter schools to grow. This includes schools designed to meet the needs of targeted underserved populations or provide specific curriculum.
We support creating a solution to ensure all public schools are funded equitably, and we support creating a solution to address the facility needs of Oklahoma charter schools.
Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) has consistently ranked among the nation’s top public high schools. More than half of OSSM graduates stay in Oklahoma, and 85 percent are choosing STEM careers. The Chamber supports full funding of the OSSM FY 2019 budget request.
We support state funding for schools that serve homeless populations of students who can thrive in schools that target specific needs. We support schools like Positive Tomorrows, a private non-profit school in Oklahoma City exclusively serving homeless students with services that help stabilize their families, bring the students up to grade level and prepare them for success in public school.
School and Campus Safety
The Chamber continues to oppose efforts that would allow firearms to be present on college and career tech campuses. The Chamber believes firearms should not be part of life on campus. The Chamber opposes efforts to permit the carrying of weapons at early childhood, pre-K-12, college and career tech facilities.
The Chamber recognizes the excellent learning opportunities offered at our community colleges and career tech facilities. They reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a degree at a post-secondary institution, which reduces costs and speeds entry into the workforce. Students should be allowed and encouraged to begin pursuit of a degree or other certification while still in high school. We support fully funding access for seniors in support of current law and expanding access to concurrent enrollment for high school juniors as funding is available.
Higher Education – Reform and Investment
The Chamber supports the engagement of an independent third party to conduct a comprehensive study of the higher education system and make recommendations about the governing structures, operations, functions, and funding. Such a study should be jointly funded by state and private dollars and address the following topics:
- Prioritizing/improving the capabilities of our higher education system.
Reforming higher education’s overall governing structure to include no more than two (2) sets of Regents, who should pursue/consider:
- Consolidation of administrative costs
- Increased on-line and alternative learning options
- Consolidation/reduction of facilities
- Creating a strategic, long-term higher education investment and funding plan
- Encouraging academic innovation, such as joint degree programs, shortened degree programs, workforce oriented certificates and degrees, and improved math outcomes to meet STEM degree demands.
Oklahoma’s Promise is one of the most successful college access programs in the nation. We oppose legislation that would diminish the program’s focus on college access. We support efforts to increase the number of college graduates and to maintain the direct allocation of state funds, which ensures full funding of the scholarships earned by Oklahoma students.
Career Tech – Business and Industry Training
The Oklahoma CareerTech system is acknowledged as one of the top systems in the nation. CareerTech is a key ingredient in attracting industry to Oklahoma through its Training for Industry Program (TIP). The Chamber supports funding to assure training needs for new and existing industry.
Career Readiness and Certification
The Chamber believes Oklahoma needs more of our workforce to have the opportunities to earn more post-secondary education, including certifications, degrees and other training targeting skills that are in demand and meet industry needs.
We support key scholarship programs: Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grants (OTEG) and Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grants (OTAG)
We support concurrent enrollment. These will help achieve the Complete College America goals by enabling more students enter college and obtain a college degree.
We support development of more work-based learning opportunities such as internships and apprenticeship programs.
For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.