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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin addresses importance of workforce development

Gov. Fallin, speaking at the National Governors Association’s America Works summit in Oklahoma City, said legislators and educators must work harder to make sure the future workforce has the skills to compete.
by Silas Allen Published: March 29, 2014

Students face a new minimum level of education and training if they hope to find their way into middle-class lives, Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday.

Speaking at the National Governors Association’s America Works summit in Oklahoma City, Fallin said policymakers and education leaders must work harder to make sure employees have the skills to compete, as more jobs require some level of training beyond high school.

“America cannot expect to lead the world in innovation and job creation if we cannot keep up academically,” Fallin said.

Fallin, who serves as chairman of the association, hosted the summit to discuss workforce development. The summit included education officials, industry leaders and governors from several states.

Fallin has been a supporter of Common Core, a rigorous set of academic standards the association developed in an effort to create consistent learning goals across states. The standards have been adopted by 45 states, including Oklahoma.

But support for the standards in Oklahoma is flagging. The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted this month to repeal the standards.

At a press conference Friday with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Fallin said academic rigor at the K-12 level is critical, no matter what tools the state uses to arrive at that goal. Each state will need to decide for itself whether to adopt the Common Core standards, she said.

“In the meantime, we can all agree that we think academic rigor is important,” she said.

During an Oklahoma-only session of the summit Wednesday, Fallin said Oklahoma is heading rapidly toward a scenario where its residents aren’t qualified to fill the jobs available in the state.

Fallin called on education leaders at all levels to work together to head off that situation. Public schools must ensure their students are prepared to go to college without needing to take remedial courses, she said, and colleges and CareerTech centers must provide effective, affordable degree and certificate programs aligned with industry needs.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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