State Sens. Brecheen and Sykes advance measure to assure high standards under state control
Published: March 22nd, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY — The state Senate Education Committee will consider House Bill 3399 on Monday.
The measure provides for the development and adoption of new English and math standards and assessments while prohibiting the Oklahoma State Board of Education from entering into any contract or agreement with any federal agency or private entity that would cede or limit state control. Sens. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, and Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, are co-authors of the measure in the upper chamber.
“Governor Mary Fallin and Superintendent Janet Barresi are to be commended for their leadership and insistence in higher standards,” Brecheen said.
“With the committee substitute to H.B. 3399 we are ensuring Oklahoma’s standards can exceed those of Common Core without surrendering state control through a well-written firewall that safeguards our students.”
Brecheen said the goal is to reduce the need for remedial classes after high school, helping more students successfully complete a college degree or Career-Tech certification.
“I am glad that we are responding to the people and moving forward on this issue. It is time we put Oklahomans back in charge of educating our children,” Sykes said.
Under the committee substitute for H.B. 3399, the State Board of Education would work with higher education and Career-Tech officials to adopt new English and mathematics standards by August 1, 2015.
House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, is the principal author of H.B. 3399.
“It is essential that we create standards that push our children to achieve in the 21st century,” said Hickman. “This option gives Oklahoma the flexibility to establish quality standards aimed at success and resist any overbearing federal intrusion into decisions that should be made by the states. We have proven Oklahoma can be an economic leader, and we can prove that Oklahoma can also lead the way in student achievement.”
House co-author of the measure is Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City.
“This respects local control by placing decision making authority regarding curriculum, textbooks, learning materials, and reading lists with local school districts,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “We all want high standards which are developed and controlled by Oklahoman’s and that prepare our students for active citizenship.”
Under the legislation, school districts will have the exclusive right to determine instructional materials, curriculum, reading lists and textbooks.
Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, expressed support for the legislation pending before the Senate panel.
“We are thankful to the bill’s authors for their tireless work on H.B. 3399, and are truly grateful to House and Senate leadership for soliciting our input,” White said. “It will be a great relief to finally repeal the Common Core State Standards from Oklahoma law.”
White confirmed to CapitolBeatOK that she supports the Breecheen-Sykes version of the bill.
Carolyn L. McLarty, Republican National Committeewoman for Oklahoma, joined White in her support of the legislation.
“In supporting the Senate committee substitute to H.B. 3399, I am very pleased that our legislators have found a constructive way to come together, listen to input from the people, follow the intentions of the Governor’s executive order, and act to help protect Oklahoma students, teachers and parents from federal control of education,” McLarty said.
Fallin continued, “I have been clear that Oklahoma must take the lead in developing and implementing our own standards and assessments. To protect the principle of local control, and to resist federal overreach from Washington and the Obama administration, I signed last year an executive order outlining Oklahoma’s independence in implementing higher standards and student assessments.”
Fallin said she is hopeful “that House Bill 3399 … will accomplish these goals. If it does so, without creating unintended consequences that would hamstring educators or invite more federal influence in education, it will have my support.”
In her own statement on H.B. 3399, Gov. Mary Fallin said, in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “Nothing is more important to the long term success of our children, nor as essential to our ability to compete in a competitive global economy that demands a highly skilled, highly educated workforce.”
The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 24, in room 535 of the state Capitol.
The Senate live-streams all floor sessions and committee meetings at www.oksenate.gov.
NOTE: This breaking news report is adapted from press releases and confirming interviews with several sources.