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Gov. Fallin signs order to prevent federal overreach in Oklahoma schools

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin has issued an executive order to protect Oklahoma schools from federal intrusion when it comes to developing academic curricula and teaching strategies.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Gov. Fallin explained how the state has aligned its own academic standards with those of Common Core.

Common Core will be fully implemented in Oklahoma classrooms by the next school year.

We’re one of 45 states adopting those standards.

Gov. Mary Fallin says the executive order will allow the governor’s office and state education leaders to keep Washington out of Oklahoma classrooms.

“We certainly don’t want Washington telling us how to teach our students,” says Fallin. “Unfortunately, Washington doesn’t always get that message.”

Robert Sommers, the Secretary of Education, says, “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.”

The governor explained Wednesday how Oklahoma was committed to Common Core but on their own terms.

Fallin believes Oklahoma teaching strategies should be developed locally and says the national status quo isn’t good enough for our state.

Mother and president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, Jenni White, thinks Gov. Fallin is trying to show parents she’s on their side, but White isn’t buying it.

“The federal involvement isn’t there in the first place,” says White. “It sounds to me like this is just something they threw together in order to kind of quiet public dissent.”

She thinks the governor is overwhelmed with calls from angry parents concerned about the new standards, but believes this is not the way to ease their concerns.

She says Gov. Fallin should rethink Common Core altogether before more parents start to take their child’s education into their own hands.

White says, “I took mine out because of Common Core actually and they’re home schooled now.”

The governor and other members of her staff would not say what, specifically, prompted the executive order.

They contend they were just being preemptive.

The executive order reads, in part:

1. The Federal Government shall not have any input in the formulation of the Oklahoma Academic Standards or the assessments used to determine student performance.

2. The State of Oklahoma will be exclusively responsible for deciding the assessment methodology to be used to measure student performance.

3. Local school districts may, at their own discretion, adopt additional supplementary assessments to measure educational progress. 

4. All agencies of the State of Oklahoma will aggressively oppose any attempt by the Federal Government to force the state to adopt standards that do not reflect Oklahoma values.

5. The Oklahoma Academic Standards will not jeopardize the privacy of any Oklahoma student or citizen. Local school districts and the Oklahoma State Department of Education shall refrain from collecting or reporting student information in a manner that would, in any way, violate state or federal laws intended to protect student and family privacy.

6. The Oklahoma Academic Standards affect only K-12 public schools. Home schools and homeschooled children are not under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Education and are not affected by the implementation of any standards adopted by the State, including the Oklahoma Academic Standards.