Common Core Repeal Goes to Oklahoma Governor

Published May 27, 2014

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has until June 2 to sign a bill repealing and replacing national Common Core education mandates in her state, or it will receive a pocket veto.

Fallin has traveled the country to promote Common Core but moderated her tone recently as grassroots activists twice this spring pushed Oklahoma’s legislature to spurn the curriculum and testing mandates by significant vote margins. On May 23, the last day of the legislative session, the House and Senate passed a repeal by votes of 71-18 and 31-10, respectively.

“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.”

White said she expects Fallin to sign House Bill 3399. Indiana is the only other state to backtrack 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. Missouri’s legislature has also sent Gov. Jay Nixon a bill repealing and replacing Common Core. 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.

‘Most Thorough Removal of Common Core’
White said Oklahoma learned from Indiana’s travails.

“If signed, HB3399 would be the most thorough removal of Common Core from any state of adoption in the nation to date,” White said.

The bill repeals Common Core from state law 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 the legislature to approve the new standards.

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.

Legislative Drama
State Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City), Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-Coal), and Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) were the bill’s primary authors. They tried a number of legislative maneuvers to get it a vote, including placing its language inside another bill that had already passed the Senate education committee. Eyewitnesses said they saw Fallin pulling senators off the floor to lobby them to keep the bill from getting a vote.

ROPE has started a letter-writing campaign to urge the governor to sign HB 3399. A national coalition sent Fallin a letter on May 5, urging her to lead the nation in rejecting Common Core. 

Image by House GOP.