Education & Workforce Development Priorities

2018 Education and Workforce Development Priorities


Teacher Pay Raises
The Chamber recognizes the need to increase pre-K-12 teacher base pay by at least $5,000 per year, using new revenues if necessary. We want to see Oklahoma teacher pay be competitive with the regional average. We will support a plan that includes these key components:

  • An immediate increase in starting base salary level for all teachers (without creating a funding crisis for other areas of government by reallocation of funds).
  • Development of new, broad-based portfolio of new revenue streams, or expansion of existing revenue streams, that does not disproportionately burden any taxpayer segment.
  • Fundamental administrative reforms that allow more money to go directly into the classroom and provide school districts with more flexibility to spend local funds.

Long-term Teacher Pay Plan
The Chamber supports development of a long-term teacher pay plan that helps address the teacher shortage by rewarding teacher performance and experience or incentivizes teachers to work in high priority areas. This should include making sure Oklahoma is regionally competitive in the total instruction time required.

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.

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, so we can ensure that as much funding as possible goes directly to classroom activity.

Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention
Oklahoma has a teacher shortage and 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.

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. Over half of OSSM graduates stay in Oklahoma, and 85 percent are choosing STEM careers. The Chamber supports full funding of the OSSM FY 2018 budget request.

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.

Concurrent Enrollment
The Chamber recognizes the excellent learning opportunities offered at our community colleges and career tech facilities. They reduce “seat-time” at post-secondary institutions, 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. Presently colleges are reimbursed at the rate of 26.8 percent for concurrent classes. 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 – College Degree Completion and Funding
The Chamber supports prioritizing funds to ensure continued success for the Complete College America initiative.

The Chamber supports higher education capital and maintenance improvements to support enrollment growth as funding is available.

We also support legislation to implement recommendations of the OSRHE Task Force on the Future of Higher Education. We will support items that create meaningful and substantive changes in the following areas:  

  • Streamlining the organization and structure of the state system of higher education.
  • Increasing the quality and quantity of workforce-oriented certificates and workforce-oriented degrees for adults seeking to complete their degrees.
  • Implementation of fiscal innovations and solutions that generate new revenues.
  • Accelerate academic innovations, such as joint degree programs, scaling up online education and improving math outcomes to meet STEM degree demands.

Oklahoma’s Promise
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 that training needs are met for new and existing industry.

Career Readiness and Certification  
The Chamber believes Oklahoma needs more of our workforce to have post-secondary education targeted toward the 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.


For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.