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Local News

June 6, 2014

Fallin signs bill to repeal, replace Common Core

Oklahoma City — Governor Mary Fallin today signed HB 3399, a bill that replaces the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English and math with academic standards to be designed by the state of Oklahoma.

HB 3399 repeals the adoption of CCSS and directs the State Board of Education to create new, more rigorous standards by August 2016.

For the first time in state history, the State Regents for Higher Education, the State Board of Career and Technology Education, and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce will be asked to formally evaluate those standards to determine they are “college and career ready.”

While those new standards are being written, the state standards for English and math will revert to the Oklahoma Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards used from 2003 to 2010.

HB 3399 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers, 71-18 in the House and 31-10 in the Senate.

Fallin signed the bill, stating:

“We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core. Now is the time for Oklahomans — parents, citizens, educators, employers and elected officials — to unite behind the common goal of improving our schools. That begins with doing the hard work of building new, more rigorous Oklahoma standards.

“All Oklahomans want our children to get a quality education and to live the American Dream. To ensure our children have that opportunity, Oklahoma — and every state — must raise the bar for education standards so that our children can compete worldwide.

“Common Core was created with that well-intentioned goal in mind. It was intended to develop a set of high standards in classrooms across the nation that would ensure children graduated from high school prepared for college and a career in an increasingly competitive workforce. It was originally designed as a state-lead — not federal — initiative that each state could choose to voluntarily adopt.

“Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core. President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies.

“We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools. The words ‘Common Core’ in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children. If we are going to improve our standards in the classroom, now is the time to get to work.

“For that reason I am signing HB 3399 to repeal and replace Common Core with Oklahoma designed and implemented education standards. I am committed, now more than ever, to ensuring these standards are rigorous. They must raise the bar — beyond what Common Core offers — on what we expect of our students. Above all, they must be developed with the goal of teaching children to think critically and creatively and to complete high school with the knowledge they need to succeed in college and in the workforce. I also ‘get it’ that Oklahoma standards must be exceptional, so when businesses and military families move to Oklahoma they can rest assured knowing their children will get a great education.

“The process of developing new, higher standards will not take place overnight, nor will it be easy. It will require hard work and collaboration between parents, educators, employers and lawmakers. Developing these standards is worth the effort; because our children’s education is that important to our state. Their futures, as well as Oklahoma’s future prosperity, depend on our ability to write and implement education standards that will prepare our children for success. I know Oklahoma is up to that challenge.

“My thanks go out to the educators and schools that have already worked hard to raise expectations and standards for our children. I know they will continue to build on those efforts as we move forward together as a state.”

In other bills before Fallin for her consideration,

• She signed House Bill 2249, which gives parents seeking a divorce on grounds of incompatibility a requirement to attend an educational program centered on the impact of the separation on their children.

House Bill 2249 goes into effect Nov. 1.

Program topics will include:

“short-term and longitudinal effects of divorce on child well-being”; reconciliation as an optional outcome; effects of family violence; potential child behaviors and emotional states during and after divorce, including information about how to respond to the child’s needs; communication strategies to “reduce conflict and facilitate cooperative co-parenting”; area resources, including non-profit organizations or religious entities available to address issues of substance abuse or other addictions, family violence, behavioral health, individual and couples counseling, and financial planning.

The parents will be charged a fee of $15 to $60 “to offset the costs of the program,” and will receive a certificate upon completion, the legislation provides. The program must be completed prior to final disposition of child custody, although the court could waive attendance “for good cause shown.” Couples may attend the program either separately or together.

HB 2249 also requires data to be compiled about divorce filings, including the number of actions dismissed after completion of the mediation program.

Exempting Currency from Taxation

The governor signed legislation that exempts from state sales taxes the sales of any precious metal that is bought and sold as the legal tender of any nation.

Senate Bill 862 expressly refers to gold, silver, platinum, palladium or other bullion items such as coins and bars and legal tender of any nation which is sold “according to its value as precious metal or as an investment.”

During House floor debate, Rep. Jerry McPeak argued that SB 862 provides yet another avenue for wealthy individuals to avoid paying taxes.

But Rep. Gary Banz, principal author of the measure, contended that, “It’s inappropriate to tax currency.” He also said the legislation would “incentivize economic activity” because gold is “emerging as a currency.”

Banz said Oklahoma has 69 pawns shops and five coin dealers, while across the state line, six neighboring states have 201 pawn shops and 102 coin shops that deal in gold. A private individual provided those statistics after performing a survey of Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico, Banz said.

School Testing Bill Vetoed

Legislation that would have relaxed school testing requirements was vetoed Wednesday by the governor.

Students who achieve at least a proficient score on their end-of-instruction tests for algebra I, English II and two of the five other required tests (algebra II, biology I, English III, geometry, and U.S. history) would have been exempted by House Bill 3170 from having to take any remaining EOI exams. (However, the legislation dictated that students must take a biology I end-of-instruction exam, as that is required by the federal government.)

Supporters of HB 3170 observed that parents and students, school teachers and administrators, all have complained repeatedly about excessive mandatory testing in schools today. Twenty-five House Democrats endorsed the bill, and the other four were absent when the vote was taken.

Besides measuring a student’s proficiency in a particular subject, end-of-instruction criterion-referenced tests “serve as an additional tool for administrators and teachers to assess the effectiveness of instruction methods, instruction materials, and to assess growth and improvement of students individually and by class,” the governor wrote in her veto message. Additionally, EOI testing “maintains high expectations for classroom performance across all subjects for all students, thus ensuring a well-rounded education…”

If students who attain a proficient score on four EOI exams were exempted, “only a portion of the students in a class of algebra II, biology I, English II, geometry, or U.S. history would be required to participate in the EOI exams,” the governor continued. “Because only a portion of the students would be tested, the EOI … would be an inaccurate and inconsistent assessment of the class as a whole.”

Leave-Time Pay Bill Disallowed

Senate Bill 1505, which would have allowed state agencies to pay their employees for up to 200 hours of unused accrued annual leave, was vetoed Wednesday by the governor.

Annual leave is “a critical component” of the benefits offered to state employees “and encourages a healthy work-life balance,” the governor wrote. SB 1505 “transforms leave time into a commodity and incentivizes employees to not utilize annual leave time.”

Construction Registry Rejected

The governor vetoed House Bill 3359, which proposed the Oklahoma Construction Registry Act. The legislation would have established a nine-member advisory council to assist and advise the registry administrator (who would have been the Secretary of State) in the development, design, implementation and operation of the roster.

“While I support the modernization of the construction lien registration process, I do not support the expansion of government,” the governor wrote in her veto message. HB 3359 would expand government through creation of the advisory council, she said.

Also Spurned…

The governor also vetoed two other measures Wednesday. Senate Bill 814 pertained to the custody of prisoners who require medical attention, and Senate Bill 1315 related to procedures for initiative and referendum petitions.

Legislation Tally

The Governor’s Office reported that during the Second Regular Session of the 54th Legislature, she received 461 measures. Those includes 211 Senate bills, of which she signed 201 and vetoed 10, along with 250 House bills, of which she signed 226 and vetoed 23. Governor Fallin has not yet acted on House Bill 3399, a measure that would repeal the Common Core educational standards.

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