Last week, CNBC ranked states 1-50 as the top states for businesses. Based on our historically low batting average coming in, you can probably surmise where Oklahoma ranked. If you can’t, we’ll go ahead and tell you it’s 43.
We know we can take a lot of these lists with a grain of salt. A list like that doesn’t mean businesses would be unwilling to relocate here, or that entrepreneurs would be all that less willing to set up shop, but we can draw many of the conclusions CNBC did based on the metrics that were used to establish the rankings.
The most points awarded were for an area called Workforce. That has a lot to do with the education available to the workforce, like STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math. Productivity, training, union membership also factor in. Oklahoma was 49th in this category, leading only Vermont. Oklahoma was near the top, coming at No. 2 in Cost of Living. Many areas are scatters hot, but where Oklahoma barely stacks up again is Education. In Education, Oklahoma was ranked 50th.
“We consider the number of higher education institutions in each state as well as long-term trends in state support for higher education. We look at several measures of K-12 education including test scores, class size and spending, and we look at technology infrastructure in the schools. We also look at life-long learning opportunities in each state,” according to the website.
We’ve known for some time that Oklahoma lags behind other state’s in school funding. The hard truth is, we know we can do better, because worse isn’t really an option. But what are doing about it? We have a few things we can be proud of here. The entrepreneur network that has been established through Oklahoma State University and Meridian Technology is promising. Is there more we can do to help it succeeded? The CareerTech programming is supposed to be one of the state’s best assets. Are we giving it enough support?
Another highlight was when Stillwater Middle School last fall introduced a first-of-its-kind Career Day as part of a pilot program for the Individual Career Academic Plan, an effort to make children career-minded at an early age in hopes it will spur academic success. Are there lessons to be learned there that can be shared?
Oklahoma has had a solid bounce back from a sluggish economy. Some of that money has been directed to the schools, but we can’t forget the lessons we learned during the hardest times. We have to start looking to our children as the greatest return on our investments.