Monday, March 24, 2014

Senate Committee Passes Common Core Replacement 11-0

The Senate Education Committee passed by a vote of 11-0 an amended version of House Bill 3399 this morning. HB 3399 will next be considered by the full Senate.

The measure would replace the Common Core English and Math standards with new, rigorous standards designed by the Oklahoma State Board of Education. It also protects against federal interference or control by prohibiting the state Board of Education from entering into any contract or agreement with any federal agency or private entity that would cede or limit state control.

Speaker Jeff Hickman
House Speaker Jeff Hickman, the author of HB3399, issue the following statement following the Senate Committee vote this morning.

“Our children are our most precious resource,” said Hickman, R-Fairview. “The language adopted today sends a clear message that Oklahomans can and will guide the standards to prepare Oklahoma children for higher education and career success.”

Sen. Josh Brecheen and Sen. Anthony Sykes issued the following statement after Monday’s unanimous vote in favor of HB 3399.  The two lawmakers are Senate co-authors of the measure.

“Again, I want to commend Governor Mary Fallin, Superintendent Janet Barresi, and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Ford who’ve understood the need for higher standards for Oklahoma students.  HB 3399 will enable us to actually exceed Common Core, while making sure that those standards are developed and implemented by Oklahomans.  I think Monday’s vote shows this was very important to the members of the Senate Education Committee as well.”—Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate.

“The unanimous vote on House Bill 3399 sends a strong message that the concerns of our citizens have been heard.  This legislation makes sure Oklahomans are developing the standards and assessments we need for our children’s success, while preventing unwanted and unneeded intrusion by the federal government.”—Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore.

Rep. Jason Nelson, R- Oklahoma City, coauthor of HB3399 issued the following statement following the vote in the Senate Education Committee Monday morning.

“The latest version of House Bill 3399, which passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously this morning, is a significant step forward for the academic expectations of school children in the state. 

“The Senate Committee Substitute for House Bill 3399 requires Oklahoma to develop its own independent college- and career-ready standards and assessments and protects the state’s sovereignty over our education system from outside control.

“Some have criticized the legislation as a step back from higher standards and suggested that it puts federal funds in jeopardy. There is no basis in the bill for these concerns.

“The principles that have guided the drafting of HB3399 are protecting the state’s sovereignty over our education system, setting academic standards that exceed all previous standards - including Common Core State Standards, protecting the state’s NCLB waiver, and establishing a process for public comment during the development of new standards including comments from parents, educators, representatives of the business community and many others. 

“The bill is designed to protect Oklahoma’s NCLB waiver which provides greater flexibility in the use of federal Title I funding. NCLB waivers allow for state development of independent standards and assessments. HB3399 allows Oklahoma to take advantage of this option. The suggestion that Oklahoma will lose the NCLB waiver because of HB3399 ignores the fact that Oklahoma is currently not in compliance with the waiver because we have already pulled out of the PARCC testing consortium and TLE won’t be fully implanted on the timeline set in the waiver.

“This legislation will lead to true college and career ready standards. To my knowledge there is no objective proof that Common Core State Standards are college- and career-ready. Documentation of the college- and career-ready nature of the new standards is provided for in the bill through a comparison of the new English and math standards with the Common Core State Standards. The state Department of Education, the Regents for Higher Education and the State Board of Career and Technology Education in Oklahoma - not a national consortium - will evaluate the new standards to ensure they will lead to a reduction in college remediation rates and an increase in the completion rate of post-secondary education.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement after Monday morning’s vote, calling for the adoption of new English and Math standards.

“Our challenge is to ensure Oklahoma students complete their education with the English and math skills they’ll need for college, Career-Tech or to go directly into the workforce. House Bill 3399 ensures Oklahomans will be the ones to create the rigorous academic standards necessary so our children can compete in the 21st century without federal interference. This puts control squarely in the hands of Oklahoma and our local districts, helping make sure our students will receive the education necessary to succeed.”

Governor Mary Fallin also released a statement following today's vote.

“Raising education standards and increasing classroom rigor are essential to ensuring our children are prepared for college or to begin their careers when they graduate from high school,” said Fallin. “As we work to raise the bar in our schools, it is essential that higher academic standards are developed and implemented by and for Oklahomans. We have no interest in relinquishing control over education to the federal government or outside groups.

“I support passing legislation that increases classroom rigor and accountability while guaranteeing that Oklahoma public education is protected from federal interference. While House Bill 3399 is still a work in progress, my hope is that it will accomplish these goals and ultimately be signed into law. I appreciate our legislators working diligently and carefully on this important matter.”

Fallin had already taken action in 2013 to protect Oklahoma schools from federal intrusion, signing an executive order explicitly outlining Oklahoma's independence in implementing higher standards and student assessments (Read More: Governor Mary Fallin Issues Order Barring Feds from State’s Academic Standards).

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