Oklahoma State Senator Charles Wyrick
Although the 2010 session is still a few months ago, there is an increasing amount of activity at the State Capitol. A few weeks ago I told you about some of the interim studies and task forces that would be getting underway—these meetings are an opportunity to study issues in an in-depth manner before the fast-paced schedule of the legislative session begins.
One of the task forces that has already begun meeting is revisiting the Achieving Academic Excellence, or ACE program, which was approved by the Legislature and the Governor a few years ago. Education is one of those issues where there are often political and philosophical disagreements on the best way to accomplish our goals—public versus private, charter versus traditional, shorter weeks or longer school years. But the point is this. Even though our ideas about how to achieve those goals are different, we all share the same goals.
We want every Oklahoma child to have the opportunity for the best educational possible. We know it is critical to do everything in our power to make sure children stay in school, and actually complete high school. We know that children who drop out of school and never get a diploma have few employment options, and those will not pay enough to comfortably support themselves, much less a family. I’ve seen studies that indicate the life-time earning potential for a student with a high school diploma versus one who drops out is nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
We also know the more post-secondary education an individual has, which includes both higher education and career-tech education, the greater earning potential that individual will have throughout their life.
Education is critical to the individual, but it is also critical for the future of our state. Businesses look for communities and states that can provide highly-trained, well-educated workers. This is especially true of the highest paying jobs in the country. The more educated our citizens are, the better opportunity our state has for attracting higher-paying jobs.
I look forward to working with my fellow members in trying to find new ways to build upon the successes we’ve already achieved in Oklahoma—including early childhood programs that have set the standard and drawn national and international attention—and find ways to expand those achievements to other areas. Our work will not be complete until our entire educational system is the envy of the nation. Lastly, I want to thank all of our educators—the administrators, the involved parents, and of course, the classroom teachers who are there devoting themselves to achieving these goals. Their work and dedication are helping create a brighter future for Oklahoma.
As always, I welcome your comments on state government. Please feel free to contact me by writing to Senator Charles Wyrick at the State Capitol, Room 530, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105; call me at (405) 521-5561.