Investing in Human Capital

Posted in: Reflections Articles

Paul Moore “Investing in Human Capital” – 1.20.15

Over the years since I first started reading them in 1992, Rotary News columns have often been excellent. Some offered wonderful insights into the lives and thoughts of fellow club members; others intrigued me with ideas and observations about our city, state, nation, and world. I hope this column will strike you as intriguing.

Back in the days when MAPS I was so young it didn’t even have a number assigned to it, I was working out at Pacer one day. An idea dawned on me at that early hour, as is sometimes the case. This one was so powerful that I got off the lat pull machine I was working on and hurried over to a nearby treadmill. On the treadmill was fellow Rotarian Ron Bogle, a member of the school board for ISD 89, the Oklahoma City Public Schools. (Ron is now President of the AIA in Washington DC.) When I told him my idea, he forgot he was on the treadmill and flew right off the back of it. Wide-eyed, he said, “Ron Norick is here.” Mayor Norick was indeed at Pacer, walking laps on the track. We fell in step with him and told him the idea. He was excited and went to work on it. The idea? A MAPS II for our schools.

From 2003 to 2012, I continued my career in Salt Lake City and in Los Angeles. When we moved back following my retirement, I was thrilled to see how much had been accomplished in MAPS I, II, and III. One of the highlights this past fall was attending the dedication of the John Rex School, a MAPS project named for a man I worked with in Scouting and admired greatly. This city has changed so much since we came here in 1992, Rip Van Winkle would be totally befuddled!

As I have settled back into our favorite place to live, I have reconnected with old friends and made new friends in the nonprofit community. And as I have talked with them about the clients they serve and the conditions they observe, I have had an increasing concern with the lack of investment we are making in human capital. It is true that a more attractive community, with more amenities, is doing better with keeping our bright young people from leaving after college, and attracting many others to our community. It is true that, if successful, increased efforts and success in ISD 89 will lead to a higher graduation rate and more employable graduates. But I think we are still falling short of what could be.

Those of you who are employers have experienced the effects of our low unemployment rate. It is hard to keep a full work force. People have other opportunities and they advance themselves. The Hillsdale College Economics and Business major in gets that: If our businesses prosper, our citizens prosper. But not all our citizens do, and I think we have a unique opportunity to engage far more of them in the prosperity of our community, and bring about their personal prosperity. Our people are our #1 asset.

So how could we bring about such a change? One example is an idea that John Rex and I worked on back in the early 90’s, community schools. But at that time, the idea didn’t fly. What could we gain from community schools? More adults learning English, people being retrained with employable skills, reinforcement of the family and understanding of the opportunities education can bring their children, fuller use of school facilities…the list is large. And many other human capital ideas are being successfully pursued in other progressive communities.

I hope you’re intrigued. I hope our community leadership will consider this opportunity to invest in human capital.

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