July 28 2014
Vicki E. Alger
The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the state education’s board’s claim that the state legislature overstepped its authority in rejecting Common Core in favor of state-developed academic standards.
Common Core standards are publicized as college and career-ready, rigorous standards that are voluntary for the states. The reality is they are no better than most state standards they replaced. What’s more, there is growing public outcry over the standards’ lack of rigor, politicization, cost, and collection of a whole host of personal information about students and their families—and it turns out they’re not so voluntary after all.
As states grapple with the reality of what they thought they were adopting, a lot of lawmakers and taxpayers are having buyers’ remorse and opting out—which is causing embarrassment to federal officials and federally subsidized testing companies.
This is a teachable moment for state citizens whose elected representatives tolerate unconstitutional encroachment by the federal government into local matters such as education for the sake of bringing home more taxpayer-earned cash. Federal dollars are state taxpayer dollars with a Washington, DC, agenda and broker’s fee. If state citizens want better academic standards, look to other states as models. Better yet, come up with your own and be a model to other states. Don’t rely on DC bureaucrats and special interest groups. And, if you want more of your tax dollars working for you at home, send fewer of them to DC in the first place.
Oklahoma is the latest state to opt-out of Common Core standards—and to date, it is opting out in the strictest sense, as the Heartland Institute reports:
“We all want high standards for our children, but we especially want parents involved in the process of educating their children,” said grassroots leader Jenni White, a mother of five and president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE). “Common Core was putting a wedge between parent and teacher, teacher and administrator, and all but neutering school boards. Local control of education has been proven time and time again to be the best system for ensuring students the best possible educational results.”
Indiana, South Carolina, and Missouri have also backtracked from Common Core after several years of parents wrangling with lawmakers. The new standards Indiana put into place in April are largely Common Core with some modifications, however. The national mandates detail what children must learn in K-12 English and math, and 45 states had signed onto them after the Obama administration tied doing so with federal funds.
White said Oklahoma learned from Indiana’s travails. “House Bill 3399 would be the most thorough removal of Common Core from any state of adoption in the nation to date,” White said. The law repeals Common Core and requires schools to use Oklahoma’s previous academic benchmarks for two years while the state creates new standards. It requires a comparison of the new standards against Common Core to ensure the two are not aligned, and requires legislative approval before the new standards may be implemented.
The new standards also must require children to master standard algorithms in math, a response to parent complaints about Common Core, which in many school districts has meant a return to the “fuzzy math” of the 1990s.
Oklahoma proves that empowering parents, not politicians, is the best policy path for ensuring their children are educated to high academic standards.