Tuesday, July 15, 2014

OK Supreme Court Says Common Core Repeal Law is Constitutional

Sen. Josh Brecheen, Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick and
Rep. Jason Nelson
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, issued the following statement on the State Supreme Court's decision today that House Bill 3399 that repealed Common Core is constitutional. Following a public hearing this morning, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a "Memorandum Opinion" this afternoon confirming the constitutionality of HB 3399. In its brief opinion the court stated, "HB 3399 is not unconstitutional under either art. 13, §5 or art. 4, §1 of the Oklahoma Constitution." Nelson was the House co-author of House Bill 3399.

"The Supreme Court made the right decision today. I thought the justices asked great questions hitting all the salient points during the hearing this morning and I felt good about our case after the hearing. The arguments in favor of the constitutionality of the law are strong and left little doubt that the decision would be favorable. 

“I've believed from the beginning that this legal challenge was baseless and have said so since it was filed. The legal arguments against House Bill 3399 were thoroughly researched by the authors and determined to be baseless when the National Association of State School Boards, an out-of-state organization supporting the national implementation of the Common Core State Standards, first raised them in March. 

“I'm grateful to Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his staff, specifically Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick and Assistant Solicitor General Cara Rodriguez, for their outstanding legal defense of this legislative action. I'm also grateful to those individuals and organizations who voluntarily offered their perspectives to the Court by filing legal briefs in defense of the law. 

“The confusion caused by this lawsuit has been unfortunate as educators around the state have been busy preparing for the next school year, which is weeks away. The Court’s opinion today removes any uncertainty. Based on the many educators I know personally, I have no doubt that Oklahoma’s teachers are more than capable of making the necessary adjustments and will be more than ready when children, mine included, begin showing up after the summer break.”

State Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, Senate author of House Bill 3399, issued the following statement:

“The Court’s ruling today upholding the constitutionality of House Bill 3399 is a win for students, parents and teachers.  

“Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick masterfully relayed to the Court that the Board of Education, through Article 13, is given the authority to supervise instruction, emphasizing they may do so ‘as prescribed by law,’ akin to the way a construction project manager supervises an architect’s blueprints.  

“Today, the Court upheld HB 3399 on the grounds that the legislature can send the proposed new standards back with instructions to the board. HB 3399 will allow the board much more input into the education of Oklahoma’s children than the 2010 Common Core legislation did.  

“Further, one of the Justices correctly pointed out, that the authors of Oklahoma’s Constitution were concerned about the potential for abuse by non-elected, unaccountable appointees of the Executive branch, and so ensured the will of the people would be upheld through legislative oversight, which is exactly what HB 3399 will allow concerning education in our state.”

State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, issued the following statement:

“I am pleased with today’s opinion in favor of House Bill 3399. The Oklahoma Constitution is abundantly clear in granting the Legislature the authority contained in HB 3399. The lawsuit brought by the plaintiffs is a textbook example of a “frivolous” lawsuit. I look forward to working further with Senator Brecheen, Representative Nelson and other like- minded conservative legislators in returning Oklahoma education to Oklahomans.”

Governor Mary Fallin issued the following statement: 

“Today the Supreme Court ruled that House Bill 3399, which repeals Common Core and directs the state of Oklahoma to develop new academic standards, is constitutional in its entirety. This bill has now been passed with large legislative majorities, signed by the governor, and reviewed by the courts. It is now time for parents, teachers, school administrators and lawmakers to work cooperatively to implement this law. We need all parties working together to ensure that Oklahoma's new standards are rigorous and can be realistically integrated into the classroom. Working together, I know that we can design Oklahoma standards that live up to a level of excellence our parents and students expect and deserve."

Related post: Lawsuit filed challenging Common Core repeal, Nelson responds

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Children the focus of many approved interim studies

OKLAHOMA CAPITOL — Ninety-three separate interim studies were requested by state representatives this year. House Speaker Jeff Hickman approved eighty-three studies this week. Sixty-one separate studies are available to be scheduled between August 5 and November 12 because twenty-two of the approved studies were combined with similar studies. Ten requests were not approved. 

One-third of the approved studies will address issues related to children. Studies of the repeal of the Common Core State Standards earlier this year and the potential benefits of medical marijuana for children are among the 28 studies approved that concern children. Below is a list of these interim studies:

Related to adoption and foster care: 
  • 14-047 requested by Rep. Ann Coody was combined with 14-054 seeks to explore “Reuniting foster children with biological families and other possible solutions in seeking their optimal welfare” including “the best possible solution in finding a permanent home environment for foster children.” 
  • 14-048 requested by Rep. Ann Coody will study “the necessity of an additional background check for certified educators who work in DHS before- and after-school programs.” Assigned to the Common Education Committee. 
  • 14-054 requested by Reps. Sean Roberts and Wade Rousselot will consider reforms to the state’s adoption laws. Assigned to the Human Services Committee.

Related to child trafficking and sexual abuse:
  • 14-014 requested by Rep. Lee Denney will examine Erin’s Law, a “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education” program. Assigned to the Human Services Committee. 
  • 14-055 requested by Rep. Sean Roberts will study child trafficking by studying “ways to combat the crime of human trafficking and identifying services available to victims.” Assigned to the Public Safety Committee.

Related to Common Core and academic standards:
  • 14-049 requested by Rep. Ann Coody will consider the question, “After Common Core – what next? A study of the possible solutions in developing and implementing rigorous educational standards for Oklahoma’s students.” Assigned to the House Common Education Committee. 
  • 14-059 requested by Rep. Ann Coody was combined with 14-049 and will explore the “impact of HB3399 on Oklahoma’s schools and steps which should be taken to mitigate the concerns of Oklahoma’s schools, administrators, teachers and students.  Costs and process for writing new standards.” 
  • 14-064 requested by Rep. David Brumbaugh was combined with 14-049 and seeks to study “Common Ed testing.” 
  • 14-076 requested by Rep. Jadine Nollan will study “The Transferability of High School Credits between Schools and its Effects on Student Graduation. The study would examine the standards and procedures for which public high schools accept transfer credits, as many transfer students fail to graduate on time due to insufficient credits.  A review of the different graduation credit requirements by school district should be included in the study.” Assigned to the Common Education Committee. 
  • 14-092 requested by Reps. Joe Dorman, Donnie Condit, Curtis McDaniel and Dustin Roberts was combined with 14-049 and seeks to study “Education Standards, Assessments and Testing” including “Developing Age-appropriate Oklahoma Standards, Reviewing Standards Associated with Common Core, NCLB, and other Programs; What is Necessary to keep NCLB Waiver.”

Related to student testing: 
  • 14-025 requested by Rep. Leslie Osborn was combined with 14-049 will study state and federal student testing policies. Specific issues to be reviewed include: “duplicative testing, testing alignment status, costs, use of tests to evaluate teacher effectiveness, testing special ed students, test results as a true criterion result, possible other testing options to meet career & academic guidelines, testing vendors and accountability on the product.” 
  • 14-068 requested by Rep. Ann Coody will study “Proper Transition from K-12 to Higher Education / Career Technology” including “End of Instruction Exams” and “Alabama’s Experiment with ACT Aspire.” Assigned to the Higher Education Committee. 
  • 14-070 requested by Rep. Jadine Nollan will study the “Implications of High-Stakes Testing for Students with Learning Disabilities. The study would address the most significant risks posed by high-stakes for students with learning disabilities, as well as the barriers to success on high-stakes testing for students with learning disabilities.” Assigned to the Common Education Committee.

Related to education funding:
  • 14-004 requested by Rep. Dan Fisher will study “Funding for schools that find themselves surrounded by federal property and thus have their tax base greatly reduced and suffer from reduced operating funds to no fault of their own. We would like to add the 12 districts / schools that are affected by this issue at a later date.” Assigned to the Appropriations and Budget Committee. 
  • 14-067 requested by Rep. Ann Coody will study the “State Funding Formula Weights for Special Education. What state/federal legal hurdles stand in the way of necessary data collection? How would Oklahoma update its school funding formula for special education weighting?” Assigned to the Appropriations and Budget Committee. 
  • 14-089 requested by Reps. Joe Dorman, Donnie Condit, Curtis McDaniel and Dustin Roberts was combined with 14-004 and seeks to study “Education Funding for Per Pupil Spending and Adequate Resources for Classrooms.” 

Related to schools:
  • 14-016 requested by Rep. Lee Denney will explore the future of K8 school districts. Assigned to the Common Education Committee. 
  • 14-069 requested by Rep. Ann Coody will study the “Effectiveness of Oklahoma’s Public Charter Schools” and “What effective strategies are taking place in Oklahoma’s public charter schools that can be replicated in the k-12 setting?” Assigned to the Common Education Committee.

Related to student support: 
  • 14-071 requested by Rep. Emily Virgin will study “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and CareerTech.” Assigned to the Higher Education Committee.

Related to teachers:
  • 14-046 requested by Rep. Ann Coody will explore preparing teachers and prospective teachers to recognize symptoms of dyslexia in students including the “role of higher education teacher preparation programs and professional development.” Assigned to the Common Education Committee.

Related to health:
  • 14-043 requested by Rep. Dan Kirby will consider the “benefits of Athletic trainer required at youth sporting events in Oklahoma.” Assigned to the Public Health Committee. 
  • 14-063 requested by Rep. Jon Echols will study “Allowing medical trials in the state of Oklahoma for the use of non-intoxicating CBD Oil for severe seizure disorders in children.” Assigned to the Public Health Committee.  
  • 14-085 requested by Rep. Todd Thomsen was combined with 14-063 and seeks to study “Medical Marijuana for Children. The study would take a narrow look at the medical use of marijuana in childhood disorder; seizures, etc. Included would be experts in the field, parents, law enforcement, and pediatricians.”  
  • 14-091 requested by Rep. Joe Dorman was combined with 14-063 and seeks to study “Medical Treatments for Children with Seizures & Regulation of Experimental Medicines.”

Related to Marriage and Families:
  • 14-012 requested by Rep. Jeannie McDaniel was combined with 14-023. Rep. McDaniel seeks to “examine the cost and benefit to the state and its citizens concerning the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.”  
  • 14-023 requested by Reps. Mark McCullough, Lee Denney, Jason Nelson and Jadine Nollan will examine “Effective Interventions for the Potential Negative Impacts on Learning in Children from Single Parent, Divorced and Dysfunctional Homes.” Combined with 14-012 and assigned to the Human Services Committee.

Related to juvenile justice: 
  • 14-065 requested by Rep. Todd Thomsen will study “Juvenile offender rehabilitation programs and incarceration options with low recidivism rates. The goal is to take a long term view of where we are currently in dealing with Juvenile offenders and evaluate effective options to be considered for the future.” 
  • 14-075 requested by Reps. Seneca Scott and Kevin Matthews was combined with 14-065 and will explore “Ongoing data collection in Juvenile Justice and effective use of research and evaluation findings.” The study will “Gather and analyze data to document system problems and identify potential solutions based on available research regarding what may and may not work to reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact.” 

A study of “Educational Benefits of a Broad Education Focus” requested by Rep. Todd Thomsen was one of the ten requests not approved. The request described the study as, “an in-depth look at all programs including extra-curricular activities and elective classes such as music, art, sports that strengthen the education of a child.  Is the current direction of education promoting these important components of education?  What can be done to improve these aspects in the focus of education.  To include art educators, music educator, coaches.” 

Each approved interim study was assigned to a standing committee. The chairpersons of the committees to which studies were assigned will work with the requesting members to schedule hearings for each interim study. Questions about specific interim studies should be directed to the members requesting the study.  

Link to list of all approved studies: http://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/ShowInterimStudies.aspx

Link to related story: 2014 House Interim Studies Announced

Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 House Interim Studies Announced

OKLAHOMA CAPITOL — House Speaker Jeff Hickman today posted the list of approved 2014 Interim Studies.

Interim studies will be held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this year. Interim Studies can begin August 5th and must end no later than November 12th.

In an effort to keep permanent records of the important work that is conducted for current and future legislators, the author of each study will be required to file a report for each interim study that is conducted. Reports should include the date, time and location of the hearing/hearings and should also include contact information for any outside presenters or participants. A brief summary of the topics discussed by the author of the study and presenters should be included in the report. All handouts, PowerPoint presentations or documents used at the hearing/hearings should also be included. Interim Study Reports will be posted online on the House Website.

In a continued effort to increase transparency in the Interim Study process, reports will be archived with supporting documents so legislators, staff and the public can review in future years.

“This interim study period serves as one of our most important periods in the legislative process,” Speaker Jeff Hickman said. “The ability to meet, gather data, and query experts on matters that are important to the state is an invaluable tool.”

Link to 2014 Interim Studies: http://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/ShowInterimStudies.aspx

Related post: Children the focus of many approved interim studies
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