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. This should include increasing the minimum number of instructional hours, currently 1,080 hours, required for a complete school year.
Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention
Oklahoma has a teacher shortage. Oklahoma’s teacher preparation system needs to be improved in order to train, attract and retain high-quality teachers. We support legislation to:
Funding Transparency to Highlight Classroom Spending
Business leaders want education funding to focus on improving quality of instruction in the classroom. We support increasing 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 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 online charter schools, schools designed to meet the needs of targeted underserved populations or schools that 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 2021 budget request.
We support state funding for schools that target the specific needs of students experiencing homelessness. 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 will oppose legislation to permit carrying of firearms at early childhood, pre-K-12, colleges and career tech facilities. We will oppose efforts to remove or replace the ability of career tech and higher education institutions to regulate firearms on campus.
Teacher Wellness and Health
We believe our schools should provide a safe and healthy work and learning environment. This includes enabling schools to prevent spread of illness and minimize teacher absences by encouraging all school personnel to take precautionary steps including getting vaccinated.
Mental Health Needs
Oklahoma students face a high level of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We support additional focus and support of initiatives to address the mental and behavioral health of students. This includes new innovation and services from the State Dept. of Education and Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Concurrent Enrollment & Work-based Learning
The Chamber recognizes the excellent learning opportunities offered at our four year universities, community colleges and career techs. Students should be allowed and encouraged to begin pursuit of a degree or other certification while still in high school. They reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a degree or certificate at a post-secondary institution, which reduces costs and speeds entry into the workforce. We support fully funding access for seniors and expanding access to concurrent enrollment for high school juniors as funding is available. We also support efforts to increase work-based learning opportunities that prepare young people for careers.
Higher Education – Reform and Investment
The Chamber recognizes a high-quality higher education system is critical to economic growth. Oklahoma City continues to struggle with meeting the workforce needs of its employers, particularly in Critical Occupations (as defined by www.oklahomaworks.gov/criticaloccupations) that require a higher education degree. The business community, governments and higher education will continue to face financial challenges and we all must be innovative and flexible to meet the needs of our customers and achieve our mission. This should include development of partnerships that produce tech transfer and research partnerships that can help generate private, federal and foundation revenue.
We urge the higher education system to pursue significant reform in order to better meet the needs of employers. The business community supports the following reforms.
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. The business community urges the system to focus on producing a workforce that can meet the needs of high-demand occupations.
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.
For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.