Good grief!  Who'd've thought a Friday could be such a busy day!
 
I have to say I'm surprised to be telling you this, but after nearly a week of work, HB3399 will be heard in the Senate Education Committee by Senator John Ford on Monday, March 24!  
You can find the link to the bill here and a direct PDF version
here.  Please read it when you have a second.  All the underline language is NEW language and all the strike-through language is being taken out.  The bill is very long because everywhere the words "Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS)" were written, they had to be stricken through.  The only parts of the bill with which you are really concerned begin on page 17 and go through page 24.
 
Today, a press release was issued by the Senate about the bill.  Interestingly, another press release was issued not far behind, by Governor Mary Fallin. My comment to the Governor's statement can be found on our Facebook page.
 
The bill will be heard in the Senate Education Committee MONDAY - March 22, 2014 at 9am in the committee room on the south side of the building on the 5th floor.  If you are going to be in town and would like to come, that would be great!  We don't need a sea of green, just business casual dress is fine - we don't want to scare anymore of the Sargent at Arms (the guys in the red coats)!
 
Also, if YOUR senator is on the Senate Education Committee and you'd like to email and/or call and ask he or she for their vote this weekend, that would be welcomed. Their contact information is in the link above.

 

Senator Wayne Shaw  

Senator Ralph Shortey 

 

 

TALKING POINTS AND COMMENTS ABOUT THE BILL:

 

First, let me say this: the Senate (Breechen/Sykes) and House (Nelson) authors truly have worked very hard on this bill and worked hard to include myself and five other grassroots leaders in the process of hammering out its language.  Much consideration has been given to this bill.  It is not perfect.  It is not a quick fix.  It is, however, something we all believe is the best solution to the problem of Common Core that we can possibly manage at this point in time and it is most assuredly better than nothing.  As it stands now:

  • This bill DOES REPEAL COMMON CORE FROM STATE LAW.  It also repeals PASS and leaves in language the term, "subject matter standards".  This is a good thing.  We do not want ANY specific set of standards in state law - this is best addressed via school code.
  • It allows the new standards to be reviewed and acted upon by the State Legislature after creation by the State School Board (SSB). This brings representative government back into the process.
  • The new standards will be college and career ready as designated by the No Child Left Behind waiver.  For those that don't know, the waiver allowed for two options - one = Common Core, the other = standards created by the state in conjunction with career tech and higher education.  We will do the latter.
  • Prevents the SSB from 'ceding' the authority of the state for standards to any outside entity - meaning we can't use Common Core (or OAS) in the future because they have a national origin and were created outside our state.  In addition, our TESTS must be designed, owned and controlled by the SSB, though schools will have the opportunity to take the ACT and other 'extra' tests.
  • Forces the SSB to remove itself from any current situations in which Oklahoma is not in control of its standards and/or testing.
  • Reinforces that schools can use any curricula, books or instructional materials, etc., they decide.
  • Provides for parents to be able to look at all their public school child's instructional materials.
  • The new assessments can't contain 'emotive' questions.
  • The new standards must be reviewed (among other things) for developmental appropriateness and the final draft must be compared to the old standards (OAS for math and English/LA)
In closing, though the SSB does preside over the creation of the standards, the public is assured the ability to comment.  In addition, the State Legislature will review the standards as well, allowing taxpayers and parents to provide opinions to their legislators - this was not done for Common Core.
 
Though it is the SSB that controls the standards and testing during the interim between common core and the implementation of new standards, they must still follow this law in their adoption.  If we PARENTS remain vigilant, we can prevent the SSB from simply returning to Common Core.  This will require vigilance at the polls in June and November and during the time of public comment and legislative approval, however.  This isn't a 'hands off' bill.  If we don't want Common Core, we need to make sure we're not getting it - most especially during the interim period while the standards are being developed. 
 
I hope you will agree that, although imperfect, HB3399 is definitely a step in the right direction.  I hope you will thank all the legislators involved for their service as it has definitely been a team effort made up of much hard work.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions and I'll do my best to answer.
 
Thank you for ALL you do for the children of Oklahoma!
 
Very Sincerely,
 
Jenni White

President 
Restore Oklahoma Public Education 
 
PS:  I did a blog today on the 7000 signatures declared by Stand For Children to be a petition IN SUPPORT OF Common Core...hmm maybe they should have mentioned that to the people that 'signed'!