For Immediate Release: May 8, 2007
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice-President Arthur
J. Rothkopf briefs members of the Senate and House Education
Committees at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
Business/Education Leaders Say Oklahomans
Need the Truth about Public Education
National and state business and education leaders
briefed members of the Senate and House Education Committees
Tuesday on Oklahoma’s poor showing in a recent education
study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The report, called “Leaders
and Laggards,” gave Oklahoma an overall grade of “D”.
Burns Hargis, Vice Chairman of Bank of Oklahoma, called the
“This report is frankly a knife in the heart of our economic
development efforts. It’s disturbing because we may think
that this is just a tree that falls in the forest and nobody
hears, but the fact is when you get into the recruiting business…your
competitors are bringing all this to the fore.”
Arthur J. Rothkopf, Senior Vice-President of the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, said Oklahoma students must be better prepared
to compete globally. He said the entire nation is falling behind
other countries when it comes to academic achievement.
“What’s at stake is nothing less than the continued
success and competitiveness of the American economy and the
continued viability of the American dream,” Rothkopf said.
“Despite decades of reform efforts and many trillions
of dollars in public investment, U.S. schools are not equipping
our children with the skills and technology that they and the
nation so badly need. Statistics don’t lie, and the story
they tell is appalling.”
The lawmakers were told that Oklahoma was one of only 10 states
to receive an “F” in academic achievement, and one
of only two states to receive an “F” for truth in
advertising about public education.
Dr. James Davis, Region 6 Executive Director of the U.S. Department
of Education, said Oklahomans need to know the truth about public
“The educational leadership, the political leadership
of the state of Oklahoma, need to take an honest look at what’s
happening with education in Oklahoma. You can’t be saying
things just to make people feel good,” Davis said. “You
cannot allow leaders to mislead the public about what’s
happening in Oklahoma public education. If you do that, the
day will come when the state is going to suffer a great deal.”
Davis, who gave a briefing on state implementation and compliance
with the federal No Child Left Behind
Act, urged Oklahoma to be bold and raise academic standards.
Senate Education Co-Chair Kathleen Wilcoxson agreed with Davis,
and said the state needed to use the information presented to
the committees to make critical improvements in public education.
“We cannot afford to gloss over the truth. Having the
facts is an important first step,” said Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma
City. “With enough political will, we have the opportunity
to be a model state in moving from a laggard to a leader in
Senate Education Co-Chair Judy Eason McIntyre said failing to
address problems in public education had implications for the
“Senator Wilcoxson and I have the same goal, and that
is to improve the quality of education for every child in the
state,” said Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa. “That means
taking an honest look at shortcomings in the system and finding
new, creative ways to address them—otherwise we’ll
continue to get the same results.”
Rep. Tad Jones, House Education Chair, said he appreciated the
U.S. Chamber’s input at the hearing.
"In the past two years, we've made tremendous strides to
improve Oklahoma schools, but clearly more work remains,”
said Jones, R-Claremore. “To create a truly top-notch
education system, we must be willing to listen to our critics,
and today's hearing provided a forum for a lot of useful information."
To view the full report, go to www.uschamber.com/reportcard.
For more information contact:
Senator Wilcoxson's Office: (405) 521-5618
Senator Eason McIntyre's Office: (405) 521-5598