Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules State Legislature Has Authority to Repeal Common Core Standards
In a case that has drawn attention to the level of power attained by largely unelected state boards of education over the elected representatives of the people in a state legislature, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld Tuesday the state’s repeal of the Common Core standards, ruling that the Oklahoma legislature had the authority to repeal the controversial standards in the state’s public schools.
According to FoxNews.com, in the case of the lawsuit organized against the state by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), Oklahoma’s highest court decided 8-1 that the legislature’s action to repeal the standards was not unconstitutional.
In early June, Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed into law a bill, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, that repealed the Common Core standards in her state and replaced them with standards to be developed by the state of Oklahoma. The new standards must be proven to be sufficiently unlike the Common Core standards. Until the new standards are developed, Oklahoma is reverting to its former PASS standards.
Former Oklahoma state attorney general Robert McCampbell, however, represented some parents, teachers, and four of seven members of the Oklahoma Board of Education, who argued against the “excessive involvement” of the state legislature with standards for Oklahoma’s public schools.
McCampbell said Oklahoma’s Common Core repeal bill was unconstitutional because involvement by the state legislature with new standards would encroach upon the state board of education’s constitutional authority and would violate the separation of powers.
During oral arguments, McCampbell argued the legislature’s repeal of Common Core represented an “unprecedented expansion” of its powers.
“Supervision of instruction is vested in the Board of Education,” he said.
Oklahoma state Rep. Jason Nelson (R), however, asserted the bill that repealed the Common Core standards in Oklahoma is constitutional.
"The Supreme Court made the right decision today. I thought the justices asked great questions, hitting all the salient points during the hearing this morning, and I felt good about our case after the hearing,” Nelson told Breitbart News. “The arguments in favor of the constitutionality of the law are strong and left little doubt that the decision would be favorable. I've believed from the beginning that this legal challenge was baseless and have said so since it was filed.”
“I'm grateful to Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his staff, specifically Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick and Assistant Solicitor General Cara Rodriguez, for their outstanding legal defense of this legislative action,” Nelson said. “I'm also grateful to those individuals and organizations who voluntarily offered their perspectives to the Court by filing legal briefs in defense of the law.”
“The Court’s opinion today removes any uncertainty,” he added. “Based on the many educators I know personally I have no doubt that Oklahoma’s teachers are more than capable of making the necessary adjustments and will be more than ready when children, mine included, begin showing up after the summer break.”
Emmett McGroarty, education director at the American Principles Project, spoke to Breitbart News about the significance of the Oklahoma high court’s ruling.
“Today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has upheld the power of the legislature to set education policy. In so doing, it has quashed the problematic, Progressive idea that the state board of education is vested with both legislative and executive powers,” McGroarty said. “The ruling today also re-affirms the doctrine of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances on which our constitutional structure rests.”
Jenni White, parent and president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.), told Breitbart News that the state’s Supreme Court ruling is really a win for local education.
“The ruling is a stunning victory for local education and a defeat for bureaucracy,” White said. “Hopefully, states will ultimately work toward having elected state boards of education who can be voted out if they make decisions that are against the best interests of our students.”
“What’s also important about this ruling is that parents can see that they can influence this process,” White added.
NASBE is an out-of-state organization that supports the national implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The organization has received nearly $2 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary source of private funding for the Common Core standards. It received $1,077,960 in February of 2011 “to build the capacity of State Boards of Education to better position them to achieve full implementation of the Common Core standards.” NASBE also received $800,000 in June of 2013 “to support a development plan for the organization and its efforts to provide training and information to implement Common Core state Standards.”