In the past week South Carolina and Oklahoma became the 2nd and 3rd states to drop the Common Core State Standards. Governor Nikki Haley signed a replacement bill passed by the South Carolina Legislature last Friday. Today Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a repeal bill that had overwhelming support in the Oklahoma Legislature. The deadline for her to sign was Saturday, June 7th or the bill would have faced a pocket veto.
South Carolina’s bill does not immediately remove the Common Core from its schools until the 2015-2016 school year. The bill specifies that the South Carolina State Board of Education and the Education Oversight Committee has to sign off on any new standards developed by the South Carolina Department of Education. However, if the standards are developed by any outside group then the standards have to be approved by the State Legislature through a joint resolution.
The law also doesn’t allow the implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, and anticipating this change in the law Mick Zais, the South Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction,took steps to withdraw the state from Smarter Balanced.
“Governor Haley and the legislature have taken the first step toward pushing back against the federal government and special interests and putting South Carolinian citizens back in charge of their children’s education,” said Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at the American Principles Project. “This is a great day for America’s constitutional heritage.”
Oklahoma’s bill repeals the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and requires the Oklahoma State Board of Education to adopt new standards by August 2016. The bill directs a return to the state’s previous standards and tests during the interim. It requires Oklahoma’s new standards to be compared against the Common Core in order to assure that they are not aligned. It prohibits the State Board of Education from entering any agreement that would cede Oklahoma’s control over standards and assessments. It also provides legislative review and approval of the new standards.
“We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core. Now is the time for Oklahomans – parents, citizens, educators, employers and elected officials – to unite behind the common goal of improving our schools. That begins with doing the hard work of building new, more rigorous Oklahoma standards,” Fallin stated while signing the bill this afternoon.
Fallin still defended the original intent of the Common Core.
“Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core. President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies,” Fallin said.
“We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools. The words ‘Common Core’ in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children. If we are going to improve our standards in the classroom, now is the time to get to work,” Fallin added.
Governor Fallin has been under tremendous pressure from the business community and Common Core supporters to veto HB3399 releasing a study saying it would cost Oklahoma $125 million to leave the standards. Common Core Opponents argue that Oklahoma would save millions by leaving.
Last Friday several concerned citizens in Oklahoma presented Governor Mary Fallin with nearly 8,000 signatures of people calling on the Governor and Chair of the National Governor’s Association to end the Common Core initiative in Oklahoma and across the nation. They also presented the Governor with a copy of the letter that the citizens signed and other emails, editorials, and letters, encouraging her to sign HB 3399 and repeal the Common Core initiative. The letter to encourage Fallin, who chairs the National Governors Association, to end the Common Core State Standards Initiative now has just shy of 9,000 signatures.
Restore Oklahoma Public Education, a grassroots organization that has fought against the standards for years, thanked Fallin and the legislators who championed the bill. “After many years of educating the public and legislators on the issue, ROPE was gratified to see the strongest bill against Common Core across the nation this year come from Oklahoma Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman and co-authors Representative Jason Nelson and Senator Josh Brecheen. We were then pleased to see it pass the House and the Senate with such overwhelming numbers this May,” said Jenni White, president of the group.
“We truly thank Governor Fallin for her deliberation on this issue and hearing the voices of Oklahoma parents individually and through our legislators. The tireless work of Representative Nelson, Senator Brecheen and other legislators on HB3399 will forever be appreciated,” White added. “Oklahoma now has the opportunity to lead the nation as never before in creating new education standards to propel Oklahoma students onto a path of excellence. ROPE looks forward to assisting in that journey in any way.”
“This is a great victory for the constitutional structure and for the American people, whom it was intended to protect. This a great leap forward in the national movement of parents who are reclaiming control of education policy,” McGroarty stated responding to the news in Oklahoma.
North Carolina may soon join Oklahoma and South Carolina. Their House of Representatives passed a similar bill to South Carolina’s yesterday on a 78-39 vote. The North Carolina Senate passed their companion bill on a 33 to 15 vote today. Missouri’s Legislature has also passed a replacement bill voting 131 to 12 in the House and 23 to 6 in the Senate. Indiana was the first state to drop the Common Core, but many experts believe their new standards are simply a rebrand. Oklahoma and South Carolina’s new laws appear to have language that would prevent that.