Oklahoma state Board of Education votes to delay adopting formal plan to replace Common Core standards, prompting Janet Barresi to lose her cool

The Oklahoma state Board of Education voted 5-1 to again delay adopting a formal plan to replace Common Core standards repealed last month by the Oklahoma Legislature, prompting Oklahoma state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi to lose her cool.
by Tim Willert Published: July 23, 2014
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Janet Barresi, state schools superintendent, speaks Wednesday during an Oklahoma state Board of Education meeting in Oklahoma City. The board voted 5-1 to again delay adopting a formal plan to replace Common Core standards. AP photo
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AP
Janet Barresi, state schools superintendent, speaks Wednesday during an Oklahoma state Board of Education meeting in Oklahoma City. The board voted 5-1 to again delay adopting a formal plan to replace Common Core standards. AP photo - AP

The pressure is on to develop new state academic standards, but the process has bogged down and frustrations are mounting amid efforts to be inclusive.

State Board of Education members said Wednesday they need more time to gather information before approving the framework for developing new standards in math and English, prompting state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi to lose her cool.

The board voted 5-1 to again delay adopting a formal plan to replace Common Core standards repealed in May by the Oklahoma Legislature.

Frustrated, in part, by pushback from three education groups she said opposed the repeal, Barresi lashed out, raising her voice to an uncomfortable level and slamming her fist down on a table.

“I put in front of you the reality of where this state is right now,” she said, her lip starting to quiver. “I am not proud of it. I have fought for it ever since. It is the system.

“We’ve got great teachers. The teachers aren’t worse in this state. We’ve got great smart kids. Can we please do something about the system? Can we please stand up and together say that the children of this state are worthy of it.”

The process for adopting the new standards was developed by the state Department of Education and calls for the creation of four separate executive committees, each with about two dozen members, to work on the standards. A steering committee will oversee the process, while another draft review committee will write the standards.

The plan calls for an initial draft of the standards to be prepared by June 2015 so that public comment can be solicited and a final draft of the standards be prepared by October 2015.

Board member Leo Baxter, a retired military general, expressed concern that the executive committees could become unwieldy.

“Don’t you think we’ve kind of gotten into overkill on this deal? We’ve created something here that's very time consuming,” Baxter said. “We’ve created a really tough bureaucracy here, even with the best of the intentions.”

Another board member, Amy Ford, said she wanted more time to talk to stakeholders and other interested parties before approving the plan to develop new standards.

“We just want to have time to take a breath,” said Ford, who was one of the board members who unsuccessfully sued to stop the repeal of Common Core. The board previously delayed taking action on the plan while the lawsuit was pending.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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