Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive February 2014 Show 1407 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1407

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1407

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, the focus is on education and the efforts underway to ensure our children can compete in a global marketplace.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1407

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1407

For more information visit these links:

Common Core

National Governors Association


Gordon Cooper Technology Center

Caddo Kiowa Technology Center

Metro Technology Centers

Show Details

Show 1407: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: February 23, 2014



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Well for today’s students who will soon be tomorrow’s workers, competition for good jobs will only increase, not from just down the street, but from around the globe. Today, we’re going to focus on education and the efforts underway to ensure our children can compete in a global marketplace. We begin by looking at the politically charged issue of Common Core standards.

Janet Barresi: The Oklahoma academic standards is a set of rigorous standards that is teaching kids how to think and how to solve problems.

Jenni White: Do we really all want to be on the same standard? Is New York the same as Oklahoma? Is California the same as Oklahoma? Why would you want to educate children exactly the same when the children are not exactly the same and the circumstances inside states are not exactly the same?

Ann Caine: It’s those things that you can’t put in a textbook, but that business owners expect our students to enter the workforce with. They don’t need to spend their tight resources developing these skills that our students should already have.

Gus Blackwell: A lot of people say, “Well, they’re just standards.” Well if you change the standards, you change the testing. If you change the testing, you have to change the curriculum. You change all that, you change how you evaluate teachers.

Rob: And we’ll meet some nontraditional students improving their lives through hard work and education.

Marisa Halbrooks: It wasn’t easy. Nothing was handed to me. People talk about welfare and stuff being handed to you, and they’re so wrong. I’m living proof right now that it can be done. In two years, I’m off assistance. I’ve been gainfully employed for the last nine months.

Rob: Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized technology education and training. It produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.

Male Announcer: And the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s your host, Rob McClendon.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, we’ve all seen the numbers. America’s students aren’t keeping pace with those from other industrialized countries. And this comes at a time when the job market is increasingly global, and international competition for work only grows. That’s why in 2009 the National Governors Association began an effort to both raise educational standards, while also making them more uniform. It’s called Common Core, and it’s where we begin today.

Andy Barth: Well, Rob, Common Core is a hot topic, not only in Oklahoma, but nationwide. Now all but five states have adopted all or some of the standards of Common Core, and as for Oklahoma, the standards were adopted in 2010 and full implementation is scheduled for the 2014-2015 school year. And with the deadline quickly approaching, some are still wary of the potential effects.

President George Bush: We want to make sure the No Child Left Behind Act continues to work.

Andy: From President Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

President Barack Obama: America will not succeed in the 21st century unless we do a far better job of educating our sons and daughters.

Andy: To President Obama’s Race to the Top, America’s educational system has remained a hot topic for years. But now a whole new reform is rocking the nation, Common Core.

Janet Barresi: Kids need to be able to think on their feet these days and to be ready for all of the new content that comes along. And so we’ve got to equip them with that level of knowledge.

Andy: Janet Barresi is Oklahoma’s superintendent for public instruction and says Oklahoma already has certain standards in place.

Barresi: College and Career-Ready Standards, the Oklahoma Academic Standards, is a set of rigorous standards that is teaching kids how to think and how to solve problems.

Andy: And problem-solving is something that Stillwater Public Schools Superintendent Ann Caine says is at the heart of Common Core.

Ann Caine: Process is a big word when we’re talking about Common Core. It’s not about regurgitating math facts. It’s not about regurgitating states and their capitals. We need to be able to teach kids, our students, how to research, how to be problem-solvers. Everything that we hear from the business world, those skills, that is what makes up Common Core.

Andy: And Caine says when students enter the workforce they should already have the right skills in hand.

Caine: It’s those things that you can’t put in a textbook, but that business owners expect our students to enter the workforce with. They don’t need to spend their tight resources developing these skills that our students should already have.

Andy: Yet Common Core remains highly controversial, and rumors continue to surface. And at a forum sponsored by KOSU, listeners voiced their opinions.

Amanda Ewing: I like the idea that in Oklahoma we’re adopting standards that are comparable to those throughout the nation. I like the idea that a student can go from one state to the next and, you know, be expected to be on the same level from grade to grade.

Andy: Amanda Ewing was one of many concerned citizens at the event and says Common Core is necessary.

Ewing: I think that, you know, a lot of work has gone into developing Common Core standards. I think that, you know, the vast majority of this country, the overwhelming majority of this country, has decided to adopt these standards including Oklahoma.

Andy: Yet some believe one size does not fit all. Stephen White says Common Core may well raise standards, but at what cost?

Stephen White: I look at the Korean and Japanese model. They blow us away in test scores. OK? But get a sincere question from a, from a child who had a tiger mom, they hate their childhood. I mean if they, if they’re talking to you sincerely they got great grades, but they hate their childhood. Why? Because everything was dictated, every minute of the day.

Andy: Yet despite opposition, Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order that supplements Common Core standards in education. And says these standards are not about federal control.

Gov. Mary Fallin: The National Governors Association many, many years ago started looking at the competitiveness of the United States and how do we have standards in the United States of knowledge, a knowledge-based society? And that’s what Common Core is about is the basic skill sets a student needs so they can be successful whether they enter into college or enter into the workforce.

Andy: And while Gov. Fallin puts her support behind Common Core, some here at the state Capitol aren’t quite so sure.

Gus Blackwell: What do you mean by Common Core? A lot of people say, “Well, they’re just standards.” Well if you change the standards, you change the testing. You change the testing, you’re going to have to change the curriculum. If you change all that, you change how you evaluate teachers.

Andy: Rep. Gus Blackwell is the author of one of seven bills written to change or repeal Common Core and says there are good and bad components to the standards.

Blackwell: I would say there is definitely advantages and disadvantages. But we have to look at those and weigh ’em and see how can we take maybe what’s good, but also keep it within the realm of Oklahoma control.

Andy: Control some fear could be lost.

Jenni White: We just believe that Common Core is just homogenizing of American education.

Andy: Jenni White is with Restore Oklahoma Public Education and says Common Core stifles educational vision.

White: It’s not gonna allow the creativity and innovation that we’ve seen on a national level where each state has been allowed to design their own educational standards.

Andy: A key reason behind Common Core is to create uniform learning nationwide. Something Fallin says is vital.

Fallin: Say if you moved from Ohio to California or vice versa, and your student was in the 10th grade in one state, but you get to the other state and all of the sudden you find out that your student is in the ninth grade. You know, that would be a terrible thing, for not only the student but certainly for the family and certainly a disservice to our economies and our communities.

Andy: Yet White says such uniformity is unnecessary.

White: Do we really all want to be on the same standard? Is New York the same as Oklahoma? Is California the same as Oklahoma? Why would you want to educate children exactly the same when the children are not exactly the same, and the circumstances inside states are not exactly the same.

Andy: Yet proponents say everyone should be educated about this educational reform.

Caine: Go out to where Common Core is being implemented correctly in the schools. Watch what it looks like in a classroom; talk to teachers; talk to principals; talk to parents who have seen a positive impact in their children. I think the whole tone would change.

Andy: Now it’s important to note that while full implementation is approaching, the process will be ongoing. And officials say to successfully put Common Core standards into action it will take time and patience.

Rob: You know one of the most common arguments I’ve heard about Common Core is that it will implement federal standards on what were state standards. What do you hear?

Andy: Rob, that is the No. 1 argument I hear opposing Common Core, and there are a lot of arguments opposing that. Some people don’t want to be told how to teach. Others say it’s too expensive. But it’s important to know that the federal government is actually prohibited by law from telling states what or how to teach.

Rob: You know there are certainly a lot of opinions out there, a lot of ideas, a lot of information, and frankly, a lot of misinformation.

Andy: That’s right, Rob. It’s very important to be well-educated about this issue, and there’s a lot of information out there, some reliable, some not. But we have a link on our website for the Common Core Web page. Just go to to check it out. You know, it’s really a complicated issue, and it’s gonna have folks talking about it quite some time.

Rob: All right, Andy. Appreciate the report, and we will know you will be following it as it’s implemented. Thank you so much.

Andy: You’re welcome.

Rob: Now when we return, I sit down with Oklahoma’s secretary of education and workforce development.

Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: Well, joining me now in studio is Oklahoma’s secretary of education and workforce development, Dr. Robert Sommers. Well, when you were appointed secretary of education and workforce development, just that name change, I think, maybe means something and a new approach for today’s students.

Robert Sommers: Yes, it’s very clear that in Oklahoma we’ve figured out that education has many purposes, but one that’s critical is to allow young people to become productive, economically productive adults. We have to be able to prepare our young people to have choices in the workplace, either as an employee or as a business owner. And so, whatever we do in education has to consider the impact on preparation and ability to compete in the world.

Rob: Now we just saw Andy’s segment on Common Core. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the concerns that some of the people raised, and No. 1, just that one size doesn’t always fit all. What about that concern?

Sommers: Yeah, actually a lot of people don’t understand that the Common Core is a foundation, it’s not the house. So a young person, remember Common Core is math and English. So it doesn’t cover science. It doesn’t cover social studies. It doesn’t cover CareerTech. It doesn’t cover foreign languages – the arts, music. There’s a whole plethora of educational experiences that young people will get from schools that are beyond Common Core. In fact, Common Core doesn’t even require you to stop with Common Core. In fact, many cases for students that study in CareerTech for example, we’re going to go to much more advanced mathematics and reading because business requires that. There’s no limit. So it’s a foundation, it gives young people the opportunity to have the math and reading skills necessary to embark on this wondrous, unique and never one-size-fits-all educational experience for themselves.

Rob: And what about some of the criticism of Common Core that some believe it could be a federal takeover of what has largely been state-run education across the United States?

Sommers: Yeah, there’s been a number of federal takeovers of education; actually things like the FFA has actually been driven by the Department of Education and federal law for decades. And I don’t know about you, but I happen to really like the FFA and ag ed. It’s been great for Oklahoma and across the country. My daughter was in it. I’ve experienced it. So that would actually be a federal program. But the Common Core does not appear anywhere in federal legislation. And I always think, so what are the consequences if I as teacher do not teach the Common Core exactly as it’s, as it’s presented? There won’t be anybody come to your door. The IRS won’t check on your audits. Well, at least we hope they don’t. But the point is that there’s no federal engagement. Federal involvement was when the Obama administration and Arnie Duncan saw the value of what the states were doing and they piggybacked and made it as one option to acquire some resources. You don’t have to take the resources. It’s not a federal law. And in fact, you don’t have to use Common Core. The simplest way you see that it’s not a federal requirement is five states have opted not to do it. And many states have looked at it and said, “Well, we like most of the Common Core, but we’re going to make some modification.” Florida, for example, has got additional items in the material. We in Oklahoma, we see Common Core as a really solid place to begin, but the Oklahoma academic standards are going to be what Oklahoma wants.

Rob: Yeah, and as the governor said, and in Andy’s story, this has sprung forth from the National Governors Association, all those governors coming together.

Sommers: That’s correct. Now there’s all kinds of conspiracy theorists around that. But one of our challenges, a lot of people say, “Well, you know, Oklahoma children are different than New York children.” And they are. But when it comes to basic reading, we have the Internet, so reading is global now. We have all kinds of, for example, if you want to participate in the airline industry, you’re going to have to have certain reading levels whether you’re from New York or Oklahoma or Washington. And so again, this notion that there has to be some base of quality around math and reading as a foundation for young people to have choices, I think makes a lot of sense. That doesn’t mean that we’re all uniform and vanilla and nobody’s going to change anything. In fact, there’s huge opportunities for creativity beyond those basic skill sets.

Rob: And why would we not want our children educated at the same level, or even a better level, than the same children that they’re going to be competing against for jobs, whether it be in New York, Florida or Singapore?

Sommers: Well, and here’s the interesting thing. Oklahoma, like every other state, has to think of education as providing our young people and our next generation with a competitive advantage. We don’t live within the boundaries of Oklahoma. We do commerce. We trade. We communicate. We can communicate all the way around the world. So we want our kids to have a competitive advantage. Moving to higher academic standards than what were originally placed in Oklahoma means that we’re more competitive. Right now in the United States, Massachusetts and Minnesota are recognized as some of the highest standards in the country. Finland and some other countries, Singapore, have even higher standards. So the question is, how fast can we move up to these high standards, help our teachers be prepared to teach? How do we make sure that young people can succeed? And in the long run, how can we make sure Oklahomans are more competitive than Texans? We’ve got a lot of experience with that, right? It’s called football. We would never accept somebody training and conditioning and developing plays in football that were below Texas standards so that we always got beat [laugh]. Well that’s what we’re trying to do in the academic world, is we don’t want Texas to beat us. We don’t want Arkansas or Kansas or anybody else; Oklahomans are proud, they’re tough, they’re just as smart as anybody in the world, and so we’re making sure that the young people are prepared. Again, Common Core, the foundation that leads to any other options and all the creative work that we want to do.

Rob: Put on your workforce development hat for me, and I would assume that industry are behind these standards and probably excited about them.

Sommers: Yes, generally speaking, all the chambers of commerce, all the major businesses are supportive of it because they know that their competitiveness in the global economy is predicated on young people and adults alike coming to their business ready to, not only to have learned already but to, ready to position to learn more, to study, learn high-end technical skills, to engage in training whether it be in CareerTech or college. All of those things are predicated on being able to read at high levels and to compute at high levels.

Rob: So can we expect Oklahoma classrooms to look, how, or let me ask it this way: How different will Oklahoma classrooms look once these are fully implemented?

Sommers: Well that will depend on the schools and the teachers. Standards just simply tell us what should be learned. How to learn is going to be dependent on classrooms, teachers, principals, quite frankly, parents and kids. What I find interesting is that any reform that’s going on right now, a school reorganizes, or a teacher takes a new approach and the approach doesn’t work, it’s blamed on Common Core. Common Core didn’t impact that. That was a decision of the school. Likewise, things are, amazing things are happening. Young people are not only learning to memorize material but they’re getting to apply it. Of course, over in CareerTech we thought that was the way you always did it. We’ve always been very successful in applying knowledge and putting it to work. The Common Core work involved in the Common Core expects a deeper learning experience, not just to memorize your alphabet but to create words. Not just to memorize words but to create sentences. Not just to create sentences but actually make a compelling presentation to somebody to bring about ideas or to create new products or to communicate what we need to do in a civic community.

Rob: Well certainly an interesting and important time in education. Dr. Robert Sommers, thank you so much.

Sommers: Yes, thank you.

Female Announcer: Next on “Oklahoma Horizon,” moving from poverty to prosperity.

Rob McClendon: This year we began a new segment here on “Horizon” called the “Oklahoma Standard,” recognizing individuals who are setting a standard for their community or industry. But today, we take a slightly different twist by recognizing an entire program that helps individuals succeed in their industry, helping their entire community. Here’s our Alisa Hines.

Alisa Hines: It’s a day to celebrate.

Marisa Halbrooks: This will provide me with the education and skills to provide for my family with career opportunities.

Alisa: Rising above poverty and making it work.

Heaven King: It means that I have accomplished something.

Alisa: A single mother of two and one on the way, Heaven King is making it work by training for a better job in IT, better enabling her to provide for her family.

King: It’s been a great experience. My instructor is an awesome, awesome instructor. He keeps you wanting to learn more and keeps you laughing. So it’s been a great experience at Gordon Cooper.

Lawauna Brown: What I like the most is I’m able to provide for my family.

Alisa: Lawauna Brown is raising her nieces and son by herself and is now in the aircraft maintenance field at Tinker Air Force Base thanks to her training at Metro Tech’s Aviation Career Center.

Brown: Tinker Air Force Base hired me; actually while I was in school we did student interns. And then after I completed school and completed my FAA certifications, I received full-time employment. Within five months I was promoted another step.

Marisa Halbrooks: Today, it’s unreal to me. It’s a big deal. It shows me that I’m where I need to be.

Alisa: Marisa Halbrooks now works as a full-time executive secretary earning a high wage, but it’s not always been that way. Halbrooks says she entered the program after waking up one morning in her camper trailer with her daughter’s sippy cup frozen solid.

Halbrooks: Went to DHS that morning, and they gave me assistance, food assistance. And they also gave me a plan for the rest of my life. They told me about school, that I could go to vo-tech and that they would assist me while I was going through the program. As long as I followed their program, they’d do everything they could to help me. And they lived up to that promise. They did everything. It wasn’t easy. Nothing was handed to me. People talk about welfare and stuff being handed to you. And they’re so wrong because I’m living proof right now that it can be done. In two years, I’m off assistance. I have been gainfully employed for the last nine months with my dream job. I have been successful and I attribute that to DHS, Caddo County DHS. I attribute it to Caddo Kiowa Technology Center and to all the different organizations that helped me along the way.

Danelle Hagan: I’m glad I made the decision to do it because I thought about doing other things. I’m just glad to be where I’m at today.

Alisa: A single mother of a special needs child, Danelle Hagan is pursuing a career in aviation at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

Hagan: I grew up, you know, working on race cars and you know, hanging out with my dad, doing things like that. I started working at the airport, and I’ve always been interested in getting my pilot’s license. So I was like, well, if I’m going to do that, I might as well know how to work on them too, and I enjoy working on things, so I came here.

Alisa: Giving her life new direction on a path that Danelle and others say anyone can take.

Hagan: I know it’s a really common saying, but if I can do it, you can too.

King: Whatever you put your mind to, you can do. Don’t ever be scared to do it.

Alisa: All four ladies are making it work with a future to look forward to.

Rob McClendon: Which makes the Making It Work program this week’s “Oklahoma Standard.”

Rob McClendon: Want to share something you’ve seen here today? Well, all of our episodes are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV, or you can subscribe to our weekly free podcast on iTunes.

Oklahoma’s economy runs on energy. Next time on “Oklahoma Horizon,” we examine how advances in technology are creating jobs across the state.

Well, right now, we’re leading an energy revolution. But what it’s sprung is the petrochemical industry is exploding right now. There’s around $95 to $100 billion worth of projects on new plants.

Domestic energy production -- on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Rob McClendon: Well, that is going to wrap us up for today, but you can see more of any of our stories on our website at; you can watch us on the go with our weekly podcast on iTunes, follow us throughout the week on Twitter at OKHorizonTV, or just become a “Horizon” fan on Facebook. I’m Rob McClendon. Thanks for watching. See you back here next week.

Male Announcer: “Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people, grow good things. Thank you for watching “Oklahoma Horizon.”