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Saturday, April 29th, 2017Last Update: Friday, February 3rd, 2017 01:39:14 PM

Did the State Adopt Common Core Again?

By: Rep. Jason Murphey

I have received numerous emails regarding the state's recent action to adopt new English and math standards for common education. The writers are specifically concerned about the confusing circumstances surrounding House Joint Resolution 1070, a proposal to accept the latest iteration of Oklahoma's common education standards.

This is the latest of a long series of occurrences that started at the end of the 2010 session when the Legislature approved the adoption of Common Core curriculum standards for English and math.

The Common Core mandate appeared in a late session conference committee amendment. The amendment placed Common Core into a bill that until then had dealt with teacher evaluation policy.

The bill passed, much like other late session initiatives. The vote came up a little before 10 at night in the last week of session. That night, we managed to defeat the proposal; however, by the next day, in the stress of session-end activities, the advocates for the bill had changed enough minds and brought the Common Core bill back to the floor for another vote. The second time, only 25 of us, including just six Republican members remained in opposition.

Over the ensuing several years, representatives would learn exactly what they had approved. By 2014, they were ready to reverse course and they approved a bill to remove the Common Core mandate. The removal bill also directed the Oklahoma Board of Education to develop new English and math standards to replace Common Core.

Once developed, those new proposed standards could be rejected or approved by the Legislature.

The proposed standards were released in a series of iterations. The most recent of these drafts was made public not that long ago.

Upon reviewing the new standards, numerous individuals expressed their concerns. They felt that some of the new standards appeared rather similar to if not an exact replication of Common Core standards.

This led to a great deal of confusion. It wasn't easy for legislators to figure out how much of the new standards duplicated Common Core. They still don't know.

Because the setting of standards is such a complex process, I realize that any proposed set of standards are likely to overlap with Common Core. I didn't want to rush to judgment, but I simply couldn't come to terms with voting for the new standards until the extent of the overlap was clearly known.

The Legislature and the people of Oklahoma needed more time to understand the implications of this policy and they have not yet had that time.

Two years ago, as I sought re-election, I did so with opposition to Common Core as the focal point of my campaign. I explained that I had opposed Common Core since day one. That campaign garnered the highest number of votes of any House election in Oklahoma on that day. The voters of House District 31 sent a message: "Common Core standards must be repealed!"

For these reasons I voted no on HJR 1070, the resolution to approve the new standards. I wasn't going to go back on my campaign platform and the agreement I had with the voters.

Unfortunately, the new standards will go into effect and I am still unable to answer your question, "Is this Common Core?"

Just as it took representatives a couple of years to figure out the dangers of what they had done in 2010, it may take a while to figure this one out also.

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