OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to repeal a set of education standards for math and English known as Common Core and replace them with new ones that will be developed by the State Board of Education.
The Senate voted 37-10 for the bill, which now returns to the House for further consideration. The 68-page measure that was unveiled last week passed over the objection of some Democrats who argued it was too hastily assembled and would roll back progress that has been made on new standards designed to help students become more prepared for college and the workforce.
Oklahoma is among 45 states that have adopted the standards, which are part of an initiative of the National Governors Association. The standards were adopted by Oklahoma in 2010, but there has been growing opposition from conservative groups concerned about a federal takeover of state instructional standards.
“I believe this bill cuts the ties with the Common Core initiative in K-12,” said Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, who wrote the bill. “It brings back in line what Oklahoma wants, and that is sovereignty, control.”
Gov. Mary Fallin, currently the chair of the NGA, has said she supports the creation of new standards that “increase classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference.”
But Democrats maintain Republicans like Fallin who previously supported the Common Core standards have caved to political pressure and fear of being targeted in primary elections.
“What brings us here today is not policy; it’s politics,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage, D-Claremore. “Here we have the number one consumer of education, the business community, saying this is what we need to give them workforce-ready workers. And we’re instead responding to what I consider to be almost fringe elements … and attempting to satisfy them.”
Under the bill, the Board of Education would work with higher education and career and technology education officials to adopt new standards by Aug. 1, 2015.
Brecheen said it’s possible some of the Common Core standards could be retained if they were determined by state education leaders to be appropriate.
Tricia Pemberton, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Education, agreed that if the bill passes in its current form, the current standards would be considered as Oklahoma experts work to develop new ones.
“If they do a revision of the English language arts and math standards, I’m sure they will be taking a look at the standards we now have and any previous standards that might exist to determine what would be best for Oklahoma students,” Pemberton said.
House Bill 3399: https://bit.ly/1gRDRIX
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