Stillwater News Press

Opinion

June 18, 2014

OUR VIEW: Oklahoma education standards stalled

If not now, when ... when will Oklahoma state officials and residents decide to make common education standards a priority.

Approximately three years ago, Gov. Mary Fallin started moving school districts toward Common Core, an initiative started by states to spell out the math and English skills students should master at each grade level.

More than 40 states approved the initiative, now, Oklahoma and a few others, have turned their backs on Common Core. Fallin said her decision to sign a law repealing Common Core was based on federal-government intrusion into Common Core. Yet, the only action taken by the Obama Administration on Common Core is to offer federal incentives to schools that adopted “college and career” ready standards.

Fallin’s decision cost Oklahoman’s untold tax dollars. Many school systems – including Stillwater – had invested heavily to prepare teachers to use Common Core in the classrooms. Teachers had devoted hours and hours to the transition. All the money and effort wasted.

Now, the law repealing Common Core, requires Oklahoma develop its own standards. Until then, the state will revert to the Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Skills standards that were used from 2003-2010.

The law directs the State Board of Education to create new, more rigorous stands by August 2016. Fallin said the State Regents for Higher Education, State Board of Career and Technology and Oklahoma Department of Commerce will be asked to ensure the new standards make students “college and career ready.”

The state legislature will have to approve the new standards. The regular session of the state legislature must end by May 31 every year. If the timetable is followed, a special session will be needed to approve or reject the new standards in 2016. If not, Oklahoma won’t have education standards on the books until 2017.

Of course, this doesn’t put the new standards in the classrooms. Teachers will need two to three years of training to fully implement the new standards. It probably will be 2020 before education standards are implemented in Oklahoma.

And that’s too long.

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