By guest blogger Andrew Ujifusa. Cross-posted from State EdWatch.
Five months after coming to the defense of the Common Core State Standards, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a bill to replace them.
"We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than common core," Fallin, a Republican, said in the June 5 statement announcing her signature of the bill, which would require the state to replace the common core with new content standards in English/language arts and math.
Conservative advocacy groups like American Principles in Action had lobbied for Fallin to sign the bill, while the state Chamber of Commercehad pushed for her to veto it. The state Republican Party officially opposes the standards.
On May 30, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed a bill requiring the state to replace the common core with new standards for the 2015-16 school year.
In January, Fallin praised the standards and defended them from political attacks in a speech at a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington. At the time, she said: "It is driven and implemented by those states that choose to participate. It is also not a federal curriculum; in fact, it's not a curriculum at all. Local educators and school districts will still design the best lesson plans, will chose appropriate textbooks, and will drive classroom learning."
But in her June 5 statement, Fallin, who is seeking re-election, struck a different note: "Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted common core. President [Barack] Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped common core in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable."
The legislation, House Bill 3399, calls for the state to adopt new academic standards by Aug. 1, 2016. Although the State Board of Education must adopt the new standards, in consultation with the state Regents for Higher Education, the state Board of Career and Technology Education, and others, the bill gives the legislature final authority over whether the new standards can actually be implemented.
The bill says that the legislature must formally adopt the standards by a joint resolution before the state education department can implement them. That could be a method for lawmakers to ensure that the state board doesn't simply re-adopt large portions of the common core, or virtually all of it.
But that provision has irked the National Association of State Boards of Education, which told the state that the bill would legally compromise the state by improperly stripping the state board of its constitutional authority.