The Edmond Sun


June 9, 2011

Success in education reform requires radical change

EDMOND — Education is in crisis. Outdated educational methods and systems are failing. We simply do not produce the quality students needed for America’s future success. We talk a good game but statistics show otherwise. We wrestle with dismal teacher pay and low per pupil expenditures. However, these are only symptoms of a bigger problem requiring deep reforms to overhaul an ailing system. We dare scratch the surface but shy away from difficult changes making Oklahoma a first-class education state.

Nationally we are behind other countries graduating technically skilled students for the global economy. Sadly, 40 percent of our college graduates do not use their degrees. There is a disconnect between education and business. Refocusing our priorities and risking re-investing in rebuilding a new infrastructure and model for public education is a must. We expect excellence across the board from sports to entertainment. We have to put the same expectations upon education.

It should be nothing short of our most significant investment for our children’s future. We have to face the stark reality that there is not enough right funding. Let’s find efficiencies but it may mean committing additional funds from other sources or an education tax. We cannot have something for nothing. When we spend billions in disposable earning and not blink at multi-million dollar athletic programs why do we balk at the importance of building a powerful education system? In Oklahoma, we can dedicate ourselves to building a premiere public educational system. It can be our first priority but it requires bold leadership.

Advancements in transportation, communication and technology have outstripped the viability of maintaining an expansive geographical-based system. Rural areas are affected by population migration. The cost and logistic burdens are too high for 537 districts across Oklahoma. Districts can be consolidated yet most local schools kept intact. Well thought out and implemented phased planning can result in a successful overhaul of an archaic system putting it on the road to becoming a model nationally. Dreaming big? Why not?

Public schools are central to community. Yet schools with few students cannot be maintained as independent districts. It just doesn’t make economic sense.  Consolidating districts as feasible, over time, can keep individual schools functioning as part of technically interconnected districts. Schools can maintain a sports and community presence eliminating funding for isolated expenses, administration and transportation.

Government agencies, the Department of Defense, larger corporations and many universities are rapidly advancing into Internet-delivered classes and training via iPhone, iPod and iPad. Distance learning can network rural schools. It is the reality of the future world in which we live. Building technically supported social type networks for schools holds possibilities.

Many teachers can be located in central district hubs for rural areas with lessons and classroom participation broadcast through the web and by visual media. Teachers can interact with students answering questions and offering support just in time simultaneously through interrelated computer programs. It seems a lot to bite off but it can be done to improve and replace a geographically driven school system.

Premiere larger successfully supported districts like Edmond and Deer Creek, for example, can be expanded with resources and directed funds to reach other schools nearby. With proper management and consolidation of costs, elimination of duplications in classrooms, administrations, transportation, technology and efficiencies Oklahoma can move into a new era offering our students the best possible education for life and career while revitalizing comprehensive public education. Technology is the foundation of education in this millennium. We use it every day. Businesses communicate and offer services internationally just in time. Education also must be re-crafted utilizing theses rapidly increasing technical developments of our day. Children live by text messaging, Twitter and cell phone. The Internet is central to all business, social, government and community operations. It has to be the same for public education. Our children know these systems well. Let’s use them to teach.

We are the most powerful nation economically and militarily yet we accept mediocrity in education. This impacts our economy. According to the Wall Street Journal industry is worried about workforce development and is putting increased pressure on schools to produce needed skilled workers. The harsh facts are American students are falling behind other nations. Aging workforce transitions are a reality. The 2010 Programme for International Student Assessment for 34 countries ranked American students 14th in reading, 17th in math and 25th in science.

We can bring businesses together with educators for focused efforts for right curriculum and resources. Deep reforms, partnerships and help from business can move our students back to the first of the class. It is a tall order but essential to economic growth. Our future success requires radical change replacing old with new. Remaining stuck in older ways of status quo practices of educating is no longer acceptable.

PHIL G. BUSEY SR., an Edmond resident, is chairman and CEO of The Busey Group of Companies.

Text Only
  • Bangladesh’s sweatshops — a boycott is not the answer

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building’s top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

    April 24, 2014

  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results