BY CARL E. EDWARDS JR.
Published: February 8, 2014n in The Oklahoman
Businesses do a lot to attract quality employees to their work places. They offer benefits and other perks, provide internships to help students gain experience and advertise openings far and wide on the Internet and with career placement services.
But business owners and hiring managers also recognize that none of these things will work if job applicants don't have the skills and education they need to do the work.
That's why I've seen the business community in recent years get more involved in education issues at local and state levels – from individual businesses to groups like the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the Oklahoma Business Roundtable. Businesses also rallied to support MAPS for Kids, which voters passed as a sales tax in 2001 and which in recent years has brought $700 million worth of improvements to central Oklahoma schools in the form of construction, transportation and technology projects.
To keep moving forward with this progress, Oklahoma must not back down from its initial support of the Common Core State Standards, the academic standards in English language arts and math that 45 states have adopted to ensure students are prepared for their future after high school graduation.
These standards, developed in cooperation among the states, will help Oklahoma students stay competitive with other states and internationally in English and math. The standards are not testing, nor do they require a certain curriculum. It is up to each state, each school district, and ultimately, each teacher, to decide what works.
Additionally, Oklahoma has developed standards that go beyond Common Core in other subjects to ensure our kids don't fall behind across the board.
Oklahoma is on track to have Common Core fully implemented by the start of the 2014-15 school year. Some people on both sides of the political aisle have started to question this process. These standards are more important than ever, especially with recent reports that Oklahoma received “D” marks for K-12 achievement in the Quality Counts report from Education Week. Oklahoma ranked 41st in achievement, though it ranks higher for standards, assessments and accountability. State education officials expect the recent changes in these categories will eventually be reflected in higher ranking for student achievement.
The state is on track with Common Core to make sure its students are ready for the workforce or college. Oklahoma businesses need them ready. Let's not reverse course midstream.
Edwards is a founder of Price Edwards & Co., a commercial real estate company. He is president and CEO of the Oklahoma Business Roundtable and a past chairman and current executive committee member for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.