OKLAHOMA CITY – A Common Core repeal bill passed a major hurdle on Tuesday when the Oklahoma Senate approved it by a vote of 37-10.
The legislation now heads back to the House of Representatives – which passed the repeal in mid-March – where lawmakers will either accept the changes the Senate made to the bill, or iron out the differences in a conference committee, TulsaWorld.com reports.
Republicans control both legislative chambers.
Gov. Mary Fallin, who must sign the bill for it to become law, is also a Republican.
Common Core opponents may want to start dancing to James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” but there are a few things to consider before any celebration gets started.
First of all, the repeal bill – HB 3399 – would leave the state Board of Education in charge of choosing the replacement standards by August of 2015, the Blaze.com reports.
This is a concern because six of the board’s seven members are appointed by the governor. That means they are unaccountable to voters.
In fact, it was the unaccountable board that originally adopted the nationalized math and English learning standards back in 2010. We’ve seen no reporting that suggests the current state board is serious about entirely scrapping Common Core and authoring unique and original standards, which tell teachers the concepts they must teach at each grade level.
The second red flag is based on comments made from one Republican who supports the repeal bill.
State Rep. Jason Nelson told KFOR.com that officials in charge of crafting the new learning standards will have the freedom to pick and choose from the existing Common Core standards.
“If teachers have used parts of Common Core that make sense, that are helping their students out, that’ll still be a good idea,” Nelson said.
And that’s exactly what state officials plan to do, according to the Associated Press.
So to call HB 3399 a repeal bill seems a stretch.
Perhaps the most persuasive piece of evidence that the Common Core repeal is more for show than for substance is the fact that Gov. Fallin chairs the National Governors Association, one of the private groups that wrote the Common Core standards.
It’s difficult to believe that Fallin will agree to an outright repeal of the nationalized standards. That would be a major embarrassment to the NGA.
More likely, Fallin and the state Board of Education will tweak the existing Common Core standards, give them a new name and tell concerned citizens that their concerns have been addressed.
We predict it’ll be a snow-job similar to the one Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is giving his constituents.
That doesn’t mean Common Core opponents won’t find some aspects of HB 3399 to their liking.
KFOR.com reports the legislation would prevent any direct or indirect federal control over the new math and English standards, and the standardized tests that accompany them. That should give a degree of comfort to those who fear the one-size-fits-all standards give D.C. bureaucrats backdoor access to America’s classrooms.
The legislation also requires the state Board of Education to work with officials of Oklahoma’s higher learning institutions in developing the new standards and the assessments. That’s certainly more input than any Oklahomans had in creating Common Core, so that’s got to be considered an improvement – if only a slight one.
Still, we can’t escape the conclusion that Oklahoma lawmakers are trying to appease voters who are angry about Common Core while satisfying the demands of business leaders who – with scant evidence – believe the standards will improve the nation’s work force and reinvigorate the economy.
As a result, Oklahomans are getting a “repeal” bill that could leave Common Core largely intact, but under a different name.
We can’t say for sure that’s what’s happening in the Sooner State. But considering that many politicians are weasels, we think it’s a pretty safe bet.