Thursday was a red letter day for opponents of Common Core, as Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a bill making her state the third to ditch the national educational standards.
Two states have now left Common Core in under a week, after South Carolina moved to phase out the standards last Friday. Indiana was the first to pull out earlier this year.
Oklahoma’s bill is far more aggressive in eliminating Common Core than those passed in Indiana and South Carolina, however. Instead of using Common Core for the short term while forming new standards, the state will immediately revert back to older tests and standards.
When new standards are crafted two years from now, they will be required to undergo a review to assure they are sufficiently different from Common Core.
Despite the one-sided support for the bill from Oklahoma Republicans, Fallin’s decision on the bill was far from a foregone conclusion, as she had been a defender of Common Core in the past. While the bill had passed the legislature with veto-proof majorities, the legislature has recessed for the year, so Fallin could have killed the bill for at least a year with a veto.
In a statement released after the signing, Fallin said that Common Core began as a state-led effort with a “well-intentioned goal,” but had gone astray.
“Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core,” Fallin said in the statement. “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.
“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,” Fallin continued.
Fallin promised that new standards would be even more rigorous than Common Core.
Jenni White, cofounder of the group Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE), expressed satisfaction that the group’s long crusade against the standards had come to a close.
“We’re just very appreciative to Gov. Fallin for signing the bill,” White told The Daily Caller News Foundation. She credited Fallin’s change of heart to an outpouring of sentiment from the state’s parents urging her to sign the bill. She estimated that an assortment of online petitions in favor of the bill had collected over 10,000 signatures in two weeks, and said that over 900 letters had been sent to Fallin’s office as well.
Not everybody in the state was happy, however. A joint analysis by the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute and the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition warned that the rapid pullout could cost the state over $125 million. (RELATED: Leaving Common Core Could Cost Oklahoma $125 Million, Standards’ Supporters Say)
The Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce was another Common Core supporter, and Tulsa Regional Chamber president Mike Neal released a statement of his own expressing strong displeasure.
“Gov. Fallin’s decision to sign HB 3399 into law is a massive disappointment to the educators, administrators and business leaders who have fought for years to ensure that Oklahoma’s students reap the benefits of internationally-benchmarked but locally-controlled academic standards,” Neal said. “The bill also subjects our students’ education to future political whims without input from parents or educators.”
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