UPDATE: Oklahoma governor announces decision on Common Core measure

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UPDATE 6/5 – Gov. Mary Fallin announced her decision on Common Core Thursday afternoon.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Gov. Fallin announced she is passing House Bill 3399.

The measure will repeal Common Core standards in Oklahoma and allow Oklahomans to create new English and math standards.

Fallin signed the bill, stating:

“We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core. Now is the time for Oklahomans – parents, citizens, educators, employers and elected officials – to unite behind the common goal of improving our schools. That begins with doing the hard work of building new, more rigorous Oklahoma standards.

“All Oklahomans want our children to get a quality education and to live the American Dream. To ensure our children have that opportunity, Oklahoma – and every state—must raise the bar for education standards so that our children can compete worldwide.

“Common Core was created with that well-intentioned goal in mind. It was intended to develop a set of high standards in classrooms across the nation that would ensure children graduated from high school prepared for college and a career in an increasingly competitive workforce. It was originally designed as a state-lead – not federal – initiative that each state could choose to voluntarily adopt.

“Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core.  President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies.

“We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools. The words ‘Common Core’ in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children. If we are going to improve our standards in the classroom, now is the time to get to work.

“For that reason I am signing HB 3399 to repeal and replace Common Core with Oklahoma designed and implemented education standards. I am committed, now more than ever, to ensuring these standards are rigorous. They must raise the bar – beyond what Common Core offers – on what we expect of our students. Above all, they must be developed with the goal of teaching children to think critically and creatively and to complete high school with the knowledge they need to succeed in college and in the workforce. I also ‘get it’ that Oklahoma standards must be exceptional, so when businesses and military families move to Oklahoma they can rest assured knowing their children will get a great education.

“The process of developing new, higher standards will not take place overnight, nor will it be easy. It will require hard work and collaboration between parents, educators, employers and lawmakers. Developing these standards is worth the effort; because our children’s education is that important to our state. Their futures, as well as Oklahoma’s future prosperity, depend on our ability to write and implement education standards that will prepare our children for success. I know Oklahoma is up to that challenge.

“My thanks go out to the educators and schools that have already worked hard to raise expectations and standards for our children. I know they will continue to build on those efforts as we move forward together as a state.”

 According to a release from the governor’s office, “For the first time in state history, the State Regents for Higher Education, the State Board of Career and Technology Education, and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce will be asked to formally evaluate those standards to determine they are “college and career ready.”  While those new standards are being written, the state standards for English and math will revert to the Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards used from 2003 to 2010. “

Stand for Children Oklahoma , an education advocacy organization, says they are disappointed with Gov. Fallin’s decision.

Amber England, the interim executive director released the following statement.

Today’s decision by Governor Mary Fallin to sign HB3399 is not only disappointing, it’s dangerous.  She is abandoning the hard work of Oklahoma teachers who want to ensure all kids graduate from high school prepared for the real world. The ultimate and unfortunate losers in this game of political brinkmanship are Oklahoma’s children.  

With her signature, the Governor is inserting even more federal control over our schools—the very issue the most vocal opponents say they want stopped. 

While we hold out hope the courts will find the law to be unconstitutional, her signature ensures almost with certainty that more than 1600 schools face closure, a take-over by the state department of education, fired teachers and principals, or for-profit charter conversion.  What’s worse is the bill sets up an unprecedented power-grab by politicians to insert their own brand of politics into educational decisions that should be made by the experts—local teachers and school boards. 

It’s a shame this bill ever made it to her desk to begin with, but an ever bigger disappointment that our Governor signed a bill that will stall the progress of thousands of Oklahoma kids.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi says she believes the measure passing is a good thing.

“The signing of House Bill 3399 marks an opportunity to move forward and work to ensure that Oklahoma has the strongest academic standards possible — standards that reflect Oklahoma values and excellence. We must improve academic rigor. At one time, as it was emerging from Republican and conservative ideas from individual states, I did support Common Core. As it has become entangled with federal government, however, Common Core has become too difficult and inflexible.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Education is ready to hit the ground running on creating new and better standards for math and language arts. The process will be inclusive and thorough, and the result will be the best possible academic standards by 2016. It will be a fully transparent and highly collaborative process, one that encompasses Oklahoma parents and communities as well as Oklahomans from a spectrum of fields and representing a wide range of expertise. Our young people deserve nothing short of the very best standards.”

House Speaker Jeff Hickman released a statement after the governor sign the measure.

With Governor Fallin’s signature on House Bill 3399, we now begin the process of drafting superior education standards for Oklahoma schools. We also must monitor reaction by the federal government and the possible loss of our waiver from federal education laws resulting from the repeal of Common Core standards from Oklahoma law. Going forward, I am hopeful that we are moving in a direction of Oklahoma education decisions being made more by Oklahomans and less by those outside our state and in Washington, DC. While this issue generated a hearty debate around our state, what all Oklahomans agree on is wanting a better future for our most precious asset, our children. The journey to develop a better education and that brighter future for all Oklahoma children begins today. 

Representative Jason Nelson and Senators Josh Brecheen, and Anthony Sykes say they are pleased with the governors decision.

Nelson released the following statement:

I’m grateful to Governor Fallin for signing House Bill 3399 today. Clearly Governor Fallin gave careful consideration to the concerns of so many Oklahoman’s on both sides of the debate, and made the right decision. Gov. Fallin has been a champion of high academic standards and from her comments after signing the bill she continues to be as dedicated as ever.

 HB3399 repeals Common Core State Standards in Oklahoma and establish a process to develop new, superior standards for English and math. HB3399 has made national news because, while Oklahoma is only one of three states to reject Common Core of the 45 states that adopted it, this measure is the most comprehensive.

A lot of work went into developing this legislation over the course of this past session. I appreciate the commitment and hard work of principle House author Speaker Jeff Hickman and Sen. Josh Brecheen, the Senate author, and coauthor Sen. Anthony Sykes. Every effort was made to address legitimate concerns raised by Oklahomans on both sides of the debate over Common Core. The Common Core academic standards have become increasingly controversial since they were adopted in Oklahoma in 2010. With the governor’s signature, the law becomes effective immediately. We can now begin the process of developing new, superior standards.”

Sen. Brecheen said, “In standing firm on the 10th Amendment, Oklahoma is leading with the first true repeal of common core and thereby emboldening other states to follow suit.  In safeguarding our educational system from federal overreach, we are pressing the pause button and guaranteeing that our teachers will be able to teach the same math and English content they taught this year, until new standards are established in 2016. Those new standards will have to be approved by the Legislature thus bringing representative government into the process to ensure they won’t be a ‘copy and paste’ version of Common Core under a new name.”

Sen. Sykes added, “HB 3399 returns Oklahoma education to Oklahomans.  I thank Governor Fallin for signing this historic piece of legislation.”


This is a developing story.  Check back for updates.

OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill that focuses on the future of a controversial teaching curriculum has just been passed by the Oklahoma State Senate.

The measure that repeals Common Core standards in Oklahoma has passed both the House and the Senate.

The bill now heads to the Governor's desk.

Supporters say the measure gives the state control over its education system and prohibits the federal government from having authority.

However, opponents argue those standards were developed by a group of states, not the federal government.

House Bill 3399 would repeal the Common Core teaching standards in the state and would allow Oklahomans to create new English and math standards.

It would also prevent any direct or indirect federal control over those standards or assessments.

T.W. Shannon, co-author of the bill to repeal Common Core, released the following statement, hailing today's passage in the state House and Senate.

“One of my top priorities as speaker was to repeal Common Core,” Shannon said. “Today the House and Senate passed a bill that I co-authored to repeal this terrible policy. If the Governor signs it, we can finally say goodbye to Common Core in Oklahoma!”

“The federal government sold Common Core with the promise of increased standards, but instead gave us an inflexible curriculum that does not equip our children for college,” said Shannon. “The federal government has disregarded parental rights, over-regulated teachers, and over-tested our kids. Parents, local governments and teachers are better equipped to meet the needs of their students than the federal government. Parents and teachers are the best leaders for quality education in Oklahoma communities—not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

Shannon said, “I’m running for the U.S. Senate to stand up to this government-first, status quo mentality. We can’t afford more of the same thinking that says government is the solution. I fully support the repeal of Common Core in Oklahoma and will continue to fight against it in the United States Senate. By passing this important legislation we took a very important step forward in that fight, but it’s only the beginning. In Washington, I’ll lead the charge to rein in the size, scope, and power of the federal government. We don’t need more failed legislation from the beltway insiders, and that’s why I’m looking forward to bringing the conservative solutions that have worked for us in Oklahoma to Washington, D.C."

Senators Josh Brecheen and Anothony Sykes agree with Shannon and released the following statements after the approval.

“House Bill 3399 is a true repeal of Common Core and enables us to establish high quality standards specifically crafted to the needs of Oklahoma schools by Oklahomans, not out-of-state interest groups.  With this bill, we’re pressing the pause button and guaranteeing to teachers that next year they will be able to teach the same math and English content they taught this year, until new standards are established in 2016. Those new standards will have to be approved by the Legislature thus bringing representative government into the process to ensure they won't be a ‘copy and paste’ version of common core under a new name."

"This legislation also adds one more good cause exemption allowing children to be promoted to the 4th grade even if they score unsatisfactory on the 3rd grade reading test, and this language compliments HB 2625, the act we sponsored and passed last week. This bill reflects the requests of parents and educators who have raised valid concerns and prevents unwanted federal interference.” Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate

“Common Core cedes state control over educational standards to the federal government and out-of-state interest groups. This legislation puts Oklahomans back in charge of educating our children. Sen. Brecheen and I were also successful in amending HJR 1097 to repeal the Next Generation Science Standards, which heavily promote global warming alarmism and do not prepare students for work in STEM fields.  By advancing these bills to the governor, the Legislature has responded to the concerns of families who feel Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards may not be the best way forward for our schools. It is my hope that the governor will acknowledge those concerns, and sign these bills that restore our authority to establish standards free of federal interference.” Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore

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