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Stephen McKeever, left, Oklahoma secretary of science and technology in Gov. Mary Fallin’s cabinet, speaks with Michael Carolina, executive director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, during a break at the Southwest Oklahoma STEM Summit held Wednesday at Cameron University.

Forum puts focus on 'STEM' and new ideas for education

Luminaries from the worlds of government, education and business gathered at Cameron University's McCasland Ballroom Wednesday to discuss ways to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Oklahoma as part of the Southwest Oklahoma STEM Summit.

Several local educators spoke at the conference, including John McArthur, president of CU; Tom Deighan, superintendent of Lawton Public Schools and Tom Thomas, superintendent of the Great Plains Technology Center. There were discussion panels made up of educators and business leaders with experience in STEM fields also.

The luncheon speaker for the event was Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma's secretary of science and technology, and director of the National Energy Solutions Institute. The closing speaker for the event was Oklahoma's secretary of education and workforce development and the director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology education, Robert Sommers.

Sommers stressed the need for Oklahoma to rethink its approach to education. He said the public sometimes loses sight of the reasons for education.

"One is to create young adults who are economically productive and capable of producing wealth," Sommers said.

One of the needed changes is for educators to find a new metric for measuring the success of education. Success should be measured by the productivity and well-being of the former student, not the accumulation of diplomas and degrees, he said. Also, Sommers said educators should evaluate whether or not a student is ready to compete with the rest of the world in a global economy.

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