GUEST VIEWPOINTS: Literacy matters for economic development | Opinion

On March 2, people across the country will come together to celebrate Reading Day across America. This annual event aims to inspire and motivate young readers and offers educators, caregivers and parents a variety of resources and activities to help encourage reading 365 days a year.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Oklahoma’s literacy rate is 87.7%, below the national average of 88%. This statistic is likely to drop further due to study interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it also puts Oklahoma in a unique position to increase its rate since we are currently less than 2,000 residents away from reaching that goal.

The literacy rate is a key performance indicator for the economic success of employees and the region as a whole. The Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority (CIEDA) proudly partners with every public school district in Rogers County to support the development of essential skills, both personal and academic.

Each year, CIEDA sponsors all Claremore Elementary School fifth graders to participate in the BizTown Junior Achievement Program. This six-week course takes students through a curriculum focused on work readiness, entrepreneurship, finance, and literacy. At the end of the course, students have the opportunity to participate in a one-day visit to the Junior Achievement facility in Tulsa to run their own simulated city. They operate banks and restaurants, write checks, learn how to manage expenses and investments, and how to vote for mayor. The program helps students make the connection between what they learn in school and the real world.

CIEDA continually works to develop and foster the region’s workforce by connecting local businesses and educational partners. These partnerships not only help educators enhance the academic and personal growth of their students, but also emphasize the involvement of the community in developing its own economic future. Read Across America provides an additional opportunity for local businesses and organizations to connect with the next generation of the workforce, which is currently in the classroom.

In honor of Reading Day across America, I challenge educators, parents, and mentors to use this celebration to encourage future career success through reading skills. The ability to read and interpret information to complete a task is essential for any future career, regardless of industry sector.

Lose yourself in a good book, Claremore. You never know where these adventures will take you. They may just open the door to a future career path.

All my best,

Caitlyn Ngare

CIEDA

Talent Development Specialist