The state Senate Education Committee on Monday voted to pass a new version of a House bill that would abolish the state’s use of Common Core academic standards in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Fighting back tears, state Sen. Susan Paddack chastised senators for the way they have handled academic standards bills, saying lawmakers continue to make late-night decisions behind closed doors that have negative consequences for teachers and students.
“This bill was put together late on Friday,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “While a core group has been able to discuss this bill, this bill really has not seen the light of day. ... It weighs heavily on me that we are making decisions every day that are affecting our children negatively.”
State Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, defended the bill.
“This bill was vetted by 101 House members. We have improved that version working with the original author. ... We are letting the state board, through a three-year process, come up with some exceptional standards that we all agree need to be put in place.”
The bill passed the committee 11-0 and will now go to the full Senate.
The committee substitute for House Bill 3399 approved Monday would replace Common Core English, language arts and mathematics standards with new ones to be developed and adopted by the state Board of Education by Aug.1, 2015.
Academic testing associated with the new standards would be required to be implemented by the 2017-18 school year.
Common Core academic standards, developed by education chiefs and governors from 48 states, have been controversial in Oklahoma.
Critics say they frustrate young children by focusing on critical and abstract thinking before students are developmentally ready, and students are subjected to too much achievement testing. Critics also complain the standards do not allow enough local control.
Proponents, including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, say Common Core standards are rigorous and designed to make sure students are ready for college and careers when they graduate.
Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, and Jonetta Jonte, a language arts teacher at Oklahoma City’s Southeast High School, attended Monday’s Senate Education Committee meeting and blasted committee members for their votes.
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... the senators have basically said, ‘Oops, sorry, we didn’t mean for you all to do that.’ ... The chaos in the classrooms will be great.”
a language arts teacher at Oklahoma City’s Southeast High School