Though the Oklahoma state House passed a bill Wednesday to repeal Common Core standards by a vote of 78 to 12, the bill was derailed in the Senate. The bill, HB3399, which was introduced by Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, would repeal the Common Core standards and allow for two years in which the state can develop its own standards and tests.
Oklahoma is one of 45 states that adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010.
As NewsOK reported, the Oklahoma Republican Party passed a resolution in January, indicating its opposition to the standards and urging the state legislature to delay or repeal them.
According to Jenni White, writing at Truth in American Education, HB3399 is the only vehicle in the Oklahoma legislature that has the potential to stop the Common Core standards and the aligned testing.
White’s report attests to the high stakes politics involved with the Common Core standards in state legislatures.
On Monday, White writes, Oklahoma state Sens. Josh Brecheen (R) and Anthony Sykes (R) filed an amendment to SB1764 by gutting a bill that had already passed out of the state Senate Education Committee, and inserting new language that would repeal Common Core.
Prior to the bill being heard on the Senate floor, however, another amendment was added on Tuesday that allowed six months for the state Department of Education to create new college- and career-ready standards, a task that would be virtually impossible.
On Wednesday, Common Core supporters, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Stand for Children, lobbied aggressively, suggesting a repeal of the standards would have dire consequences for the state.
A glaring obstacle for those who oppose the Common Core in Oklahoma is the fact that the state’s Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is chairman of the National Governor’s Association, the group whose Center for Best Practices is one of the authors of the Common Core standards and owners of the copyright of the standards.
Fallin attempted to placate Common Core opponents in December by signing an executive order stating that Oklahoma will be responsible for the implementation of the standards, a move that did not appease grassroots activists against Common Core.
Sen. John Ford (R), chairman of the state Senate Education Committee and a supporter of Common Core, said Wednesday he agreed to grant a hearing to a bill to repeal the standards.
“That’s what I gave my assurance I would do,” Ford said. “A lot of people have very strong opinions about this.”
However, according to White, Fallin, an obvious strong supporter of the standards, was seen on the floor of the state Senate Wednesday, “pulling members off the floor into private meetings one by one.”
White writes, “By the end of the day Wednesday, Senators had been silenced and a press release formulated indicating the body wanted to “…ensure no rash decisions are made and policy changes are carefully considered and vetted (by the committee process) by all interested parties as to avoid unintended consequences.”
Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) responded to the killing of SB1764 and the press release:
The decision by Senate leadership today to kill SB1764 under the guise the bill could present unintended consequences is laughable at best. Where were the concerns about unintended consequences when the Common Core were placed into state law in 2010 before they were even available to read in final form? The notion the bill couldn’t be heard because it hadn’t been properly vetted through committee is the most dishonest, disingenuous comment conceivable. Of course it hadn’t. Senators Brecheen and Sykes had to circumvent regular procedure due to the insistence of Senate Education Committee Chair John Ford to hear no bill regarding Common Core in his committee! How was the voice of the people to be heard? How were these brave senators to represent their constituency in the face of a governor who wants nothing more than to protect her chairmanship at the National Governor’s Association…
White states that HB3399 will likely not be heard until after Oklahoma’s candidate filing period, April 9-11th.
“After all, if the two Senate Education Committee members up for re-election draw a primary opponent, the Governor’s arm twisting will become all that more important,” White writes. “The battle lines are clearly drawn – parents, taxpayers and teachers against special interests, Senate leadership and the chairmanship of the NGA.”
Parents, teachers, and taxpayers against Common Core in Oklahoma will hold a Grassroots Day of Activism on Monday, March 17.