The money being spent on education, both secondary schools and higher-education, is being mis-allocated and misspent, sometimes even being lost. Correcting this will go a long way toward putting Oklahoma in the top 25 of the states.
We need to consolidate our school districts, first of all. We have 500+ while Kansas has less than 300 by comparison. Combining school districts without closing a single one will save an estimated $15 million, with no student even being aware it happened. Other opportunities exist for synergies in our rural schools, allowing us to save up to $70 million. Correcting out-of-proportion administrative expenditures will save another $40 million.
Secondly, we need to do a complete rework of our higher-education programs. The number of non-teaching positions outnumbers professors 2 to 1. Most other states have a 1 to 1.2 proportion, and are performing at much higher levels. Why are our employees not teaching? Why are those that are teaching not getting results? Why is our research and publishing level so low? Oklahoma has the people and the money to outperform most states in our region, but the leadership to do so is lacking.
Finally, we need to remove legal restrictions from opening accredited alternative education programs. Opening the field will have 3 major ramifications for our state. First, we can bring in high quality programs not currently being offered. Secondly, we force the public system to step up their game or risk losing students to the alternatives. Thirdly, we create a more stable, innovative education environment that can take our schools from the 1930s and bring them to today.
After 8 years of the Lt. Governor focusing on the economy and business development, we are worse off than before he took office. It’s time to diversify our economy to avoid the inevitable boom-bust cycles inherently generated by the oil and aerospace sectors
Together, we will engineer strategies that make Oklahoma competitive for the economically stable industries that our surrounding neighbors have enjoyed such successes.
The future is bright for tech industries, and the medical field is in perpetual need. Oklahoma has a wealth of talent, and the only issues that prevent industries like this from joining our ranks are an unfavorable tax structure and a fractured support network. Correcting some of our education issues will further enhance our ability to compete on not only a regional scale, but in the world market as well. Oklahoma has all the tools to be a leader in innovation and technology, and the next administration should take the steps to ensure our future.
An easing of licensing restrictions and creating an economic advisory commission complete the final leg of the task of creating an environment where a company can build, hire, expand and dominate their competition, regardless of industry.
There are many things we can do to expand our employment base and increase our economic diversity. We have all the native resources necessary to attract high quality jobs and businesses, but it is also a firm conviction of mine that we need to give our own people the opportunity to build their own businesses and restore the American dream, which is possible in Oklahoma, arguably, more so than anywhere else in the United States.
Our unique combination of manpower, raw materials, low cost of living, and available manpower make us ideal for starting and growing a small business. By reducing restrictions on economic development and supporting incubation projects, Oklahoma could be the go-to state for starting a new industry. Lastly, we can protect our family farmers and our environment, both, by stopping the economic favoritism created by the current and previous administration under the guise of ‘stabilizing agriculture’. The current codes have done nothing but create frustration at every level which culminated in the failure of the Right to Farm question. They already have the right to farm. They just live under the thumb of a state agricultural policy which encourages them not to. This must end.