IN a triumph of irrationality over reason, House Speaker T.W. Shannon abruptly announced that lawmakers might try to repeal Common Core academic standards in the legislative session's final days.
“A lot of people are becoming very concerned about its ability to open the door for kind of a federal takeover of our education system,” Shannon said last week. “We've already seen it in our health care system.”
This comparison is legitimate only if Obamacare were a state law that Shannon, R-Lawton, voted to implement. In a call straight from the John Kerry political leadership playbook, Shannon was for Common Core before he was against it.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, spearheaded by state governors and state education commissioners, is meant to establish a set of clear, rigorous, multistate educational standards in English and math. Participating states voluntarily adopt the standards — as Oklahoma lawmakers (including Shannon) did in 2010. Oklahoma received no federal money in return.
The standards aren't unlike a recent Senate resolution that calls for “collaboration between the states utilizing the McClellan-Kerr (navigation system) to establish goals to maintain the system for best use and identify opportunities for future development ...” Shannon supported that measure as well.
Common Core endorses such things as teaching third-graders to “develop understanding of fractions as numbers” and expecting children to “read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently” by the end of second grade. Does achieving those goals really place Oklahomans on the road to federal serfdom?
Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, declares Common Core “is not a ‘national curriculum.' We continue to make local decisions on curriculum and appropriate teaching methods, just as we always have.” Given that Ballard has resisted even much state oversight of schools, it isn't plausible to claim he's a front man for federal takeover.