Rebuffing Arne Duncan, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin defends repeal of Common Core

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin defended her repeal of Common Core from the “condescending” criticism of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, promising better public education standards for the state’s schoolchildren.

In a Daily Caller story last week, Duncan was quoted as chiding Fallin for turning her back on federal standards she supported before she signed the repeal.

Duncan, the Daily Caller said, hinted Oklahoma and other states abandoning Common Core might lose federal funding if states “dummy down standards.”

In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Fallin said she was proud to have endorsed the large legislative majorities that passed the Common Core repeal.
“We repealed Common Core — and wrote provisions that will replace it with standards that are even better than what Secretary Duncan has touted,” Fallin said.

Fallin took exception to Duncan’s characterization of Oklahoma’s remedial education problem. In her four years as governor, Fallin said she has pushed steps to lower a 40 percent remediation rate for high school graduates who go to college.

“His comments about remediation? Well, we are focused on that. It is one of our state’s top goals to reverse the high levels of remediation and have our students better prepared. …” Fallin said.

“Of course our children need to read better and do math better. We know that. … More college graduates, better prepared for the modern workforce, have been a constant emphasis of my administration.”

At the time of signing the repeal, Fallin said President Obama and his administration’s decision to attach conditions to federal funding waivers was not assistance but coercion.

“Federal bureaucrats have been over-reaching for years,” she said. “The controversy over Common Core is certainly not just here in Oklahoma.”
This year, Indiana and South Carolina preceded Oklahoma in repealing the standards enacted in 2010.
Opposition in states like New Mexico and Indiana includes teachers unions and public employees.

Rob Nikolewski, for New Mexico Watchdog, reported last month, “In education circles, a sardonic joke is making the rounds: ‘Conservatives hate the ‘common’ and liberals hate the core.’ ”

Fallin’s Democratic opponent for reelection, state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, is even more passionately opposed to Common Core than Fallin.

“If I could offer one message,” Fallin said, “it would not be to Secretary Duncan but to our own people in Oklahoma. Now is the time for all of our parents and education officials to unite behind the common goal of improving our schools.

“Our teachers are capable, our parents are capable, our students are capable. And we as a state are capable of developing state-level academic standards that will help our children develop and become the citizens and employees needed for the future.”

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