Gov. Mary Fallin signs bill repealing Common Core in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed House Bill 3399, repealing the Common Core curriculum in the Sooner State.

In a statement to reporters late afternoon Thursday, she said “We are capable of developing our academic standard that will be better than Common Core.”

Under the legislation Fallin signed, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be replaced with “new, more rigorous standards” by August 2016.

In response to a question from Oklahoma Watchdog, Gov. Fallin and her staff pointed out that federal funds constitute from five to seven percent of all public education funding in Oklahoma.

Fallin and her spokesman, Alex Weintz, stressed that if the state is deprived of any federal monies, it will be only a portion of the total.

Supporters of Common Core, who wanted Fallin to veto H.B. 3399, have stressed a possible loss of federal funding in making the case for the controversial curriculum.

Fallin’s staff said she has not decided whether to seek a waiver from federal strictures to support the process defined in H.B. 3399.

Fallin said she believes Common Core was created with “well-intentioned goals” but added, “federal overreach has tainted Common Core. President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards.”

The chief executive spent the last week meeting with contingents from both sides of the debate. 

The measure passed overwhelmingly in both chambers of the Legislature – 78-19 in the House and 31-10 in the Senate, on the last day of the session.

Opposition was bipartisan. A leading critic of the Common Core process – who has opposed it since passage in 2010 – is her Democratic opponent in the November general election, state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.
Author of the bill was Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview. In a statement early Thursday evening, he said:

“With Governor Fallin’s signature on House Bill 3399, we now begin the process of drafting superior education standards for Oklahoma schools. We also must monitor reaction by the federal government and the possible loss of our waiver from federal education laws resulting from the repeal of Common Core standards from Oklahoma law.

“Going forward, I am hopeful that we are moving in a direction of Oklahoma education decisions being made more by Oklahomans and less by those outside our state and in Washington, DC. While this issue generated a hearty debate around our state, what all Oklahomans agree on is wanting a better future for our most precious asset, our children.

“The journey to develop a better education and that brighter future for all Oklahoma children begins today.”

Amber England, the interim executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma — an education advocacy organization – said in a statement the governor’s decision was “not only disappointing, it’s dangerous.  She is abandoning the hard work of Oklahoma teachers who want to ensure all kids graduate from high school prepared for the real world.”

State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, echoed Speaker Hickman, saying, “Every effort was made to address legitimate concerns raised by Oklahomans on both sides of the debate over Common Core. The Common Core academic standards have become increasingly controversial since they were adopted in Oklahoma in 2010.

“With the governor’s signature, the law becomes effective immediately. We can now begin the process of developing new, superior standards.”

Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, who shepherded the measure to passage in the upper chamber, said in a statement, “In standing firm on the 10th Amendment, Oklahoma is leading with the first true repeal of common core and thereby emboldening other states to follow suit.”  

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