Oklahoma legislators, fighting against political correctness and initiating a battle for traditional American values, will consider various bills implementing a shift toward those traditional values when they return to the Capitol on Feb. 3.
One bill offered by Republican Sen. Rob Standridge of Norman, would require Oklahoma’s public elementary schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day. The bill would also allow students opposed to doing so to be exempted. Another requirement of Standridge’s bill would be the requirement that every public school own and display a U.S. flag.
Another bill, from Sen. Eddie Fields, (R-Wynona), would allow the State Board of Education to separate from the K-12 Common Core State Standards, requiring the Board to adopt changes to the state’s current English, language arts, and mathematics requirements. The bill would make the Board ask the U.S. Department of Education to change the agreement and sever federal funding from the implementation of the Common Core standards.
Two different bills from Rep. Ken Walker, (R-Tulsa) and Rep. Bobby Cleveland, (R-Slaughterville), would allow schools the freedom to show religious scenes or symbols, as long as the display also included a companion scene from another religion and embraces both a religious and secular symbol. Another requirement would be the inclusion of a traditional winter celebration.
“(That) display shall not include a message that endorses, favors, disfavors or encourages adherence to a particular religious or nonreligious faith, belief or perspective,” according to the bill.
The legislators are challenging the spin Governor Mary Fallin attempted in December, when she tried to head off the firestorm of criticism surrounding the implementation of national Common Core Standards, signing an executive order that seemed to assert Oklahoma’s independence from those standards. Oklahoma is one of 45 states to accept the national standards.
Fallin said, “We certainly don’t want Washington telling us how to teach our students. Unfortunately, Washington doesn’t always get that message.” She was echoed by Robert Sommers, the Secretary of Education, who said, “We’re being preemptive. Even though Common Core isn’t federal, what our worry is that we’ve seen that federal creep in the past.”
But Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, was not convinced, saying, “It sounds to me like this is just something they threw together in order to kind of quiet public dissent.”