The only school ingredient that matters is “highly motivated, highly trained teachers” who need a merit pay system to “break the union mold,” Shannon said. We agree: Good teachers and a wage commensurate with their value are a paramount part of the equation. So is training for them as the standards roll out. These are issues worth fighting for come February.
Many school districts in Oklahoma have implemented the standards ahead of the coming state mandate, even as students are taking standardized tests based on the old standards. Teachers and administrators know a higher academic bar for Oklahoma's children is a good thing. The concern they've been most vocal about isn't the content of the standards but uncertainty surrounding the testing piece. That's been particularly true since Oklahoma announced it would develop its own test aligned with Common Core.
Oklahoma lawmakers must resist the urge to pull back on the new academic standards. Their energy would be better spent — and students would be better served — on efforts to make sure every classroom is staffed with a good teacher who has the training and support needed to successfully implement the standards.