Stillwater News Press

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March 15, 2014

Common Core standards still being debated

STILLWATER, Okla. — The House of Representatives plunged Oklahoma’s Common Core initiative into chaos last week when it voted to repeal the math and English standards.

State Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, unveiled a plan to repeal the standards, but withdraw the amendment after Republican Senate leaders granted a committee hearing for the House’s Common Core bill.

The standards are part of a National Governor’s Association initiative, and have been adopted by 45 states. Oklahoma adopted Common Core in 2010. It includes basic requirements for students in math and English and testing to ensure those standards are reached.

Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican and chairwoman of the National Governor’s Association, solidly supports Common Core.

However, the state committee of the Oklahoma Republican Party opposes the standards, and many conservatives believe the standards represent a federal takeover of state education.

In December, Fallin signed an executive order stating Oklahoma is responsible for determining how the standards will be implemented.

State Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, supports Common Core as does Stillwater school Superintendent Ann Caine.

Oklahoma students must improve their English and math skills, Halligan said Friday.

“I actually interacted with all the superintendents in Payne County. They gathered together for a little breakfast event. All, but one, of the superintendents indicated that they were in the process of having their teachers trained to implement this,” Halligan said.

The school systems with Common Core implementation plans should be allowed to move forward, Halligan said, but many legislators want a delay.

“We will just have to sort that out,” Halligan said. “I, for one, I’m strongly advocating that those who want to proceed should be able to proceed.”

The House and Senate completed week six Thursday. Bills approved by the Senate have been passed to the House.

Bills approved in the House are in the Senate’s hands. The session will end May 30.

There’s a long way to go, Halligan said. The House and Senate will review the bills and conference committees will meet.

“This is like the first quarter of a football game,” Halligan said. “Everyone should take that into context as to what is happening in the legislative process. Just be patient because a lot happens in the last two weeks.”

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