Emphasis on Higher Standards, Research Needed to Improve State Higher Education, Say Officials

Article excerpt

Emphasis on quality of education rather than quantity of programs, higher admission and graduation standards and a commitment to funding a great research university are several of the things needed to improve higher education in Oklahoma, according to several state educators.

Meanwhile, new high school graduation standards that will take effect in the fall of 1988 - and programs that emphasize maximum use of resources, such as instructional television and sharing specialized teachers among several school districts - are examples of things being done right in Oklahoma.

J.R. Morris, regents' professor at the University of Oklahoma, said higher standards for admission represent "one of the most significant public policy statements" in recent years.

The increased standards had the full backing of all the four-year colleges in Oklahoma, he said, and the higher standards should strengthen the preparedness of students for college.

"I think these movements toward strengthening standards," he said, "are signs that we're moving in the right direction.

"The other thing I don't think the state has lived up to yet is the need for a research university. We have not done what other states have done in funding a great research university."

Funding a leading research university would be a great investment in the future, Morris said, because it would pay off enormously in the future through economic development.

He noted how Massachusetts, the "Silicon Valley" area of California and the "Golden Triangle" area of North Carolina - all leading research centers - have succeeded in attracting high technology industries.

Frank Horton, president of the University of Oklahoma, also said funding for research institutions is going to be important for Oklahoma to be competitive with other states.

"If we're going to be nationally competitive, then we're going to have to invest in research institutions," he said. …