Tahlequah Daily Press


June 16, 2014

Need for standards remains

TAHLEQUAH — For reasons having little to do with reality, Common Core Academic Standards have become politically toxic. Virtually all problems in America’s education system are being blamed on the standards, including problems that long preceded creation of the standards. Thus, it’s not surprising that Gov. Mary Fallin chose to sign legislation repealing Common Core in Oklahoma.

But what comes next? Fallin said the goal is to create new state-developed standards “better than Common Core.” That’s a goal we endorse as well. But the provisions of the repeal legislation, House Bill 3399, make such an outcome unlikely.

Under the new law, the State Board of Education will be required to adopt new academic standards in language and math by Aug. 1, 2016. The process must involve consultation with a wide range of experts and interested parties. However, as we’ve noted before, the legislation also includes provisions allowing state lawmakers to then unilaterally rewrite the academic standards themselves, thoroughly politicizing the process.

Those provisions are most likely unconstitutional. A court challenge is expected.

The National Association of State Boards of Education recently told Fallin about the bill’s constitutional problems. The state constitution grants the State Board of Education authority over the “supervision of instruction in the public schools.

 The board is clearly part of the executive branch since its members are either gubernatorial appointees or the state superintendent. Past court rulings have declared, “(O)ne constitutional body may not exercise a function expressly set apart to another constitutional body.” And the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits “legislative intrusion upon the functions assigned by the constitution to the executive.”

Thus, state lawmakers’ attempt to co-opt the board’s authority regarding academic-standards development appears a clear constitutional violation.

But even if the courts uphold the bill’s constitutionality, there is little reason to believe lawmakers will actually support rigorous, state-developed standards. This year, both chambers of the Legislature voted to reject state-developed science standards (although that repeal effort ultimately fell short).

The new Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science are the product of more than a year of work by a committee of more than 60 members. More than 500 people ultimately helped write, review, comment or offer input. The new science standards were considered a solid improvement over the prior standards, which received an F grade in a 2012 Fordham Institute study.

Yet lawmakers still came close to rejecting those standards, despite the fact they were developed under the state-directed process legislators claim to champion.

The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association notes many lawmakers’ objections focused on the presentation of climate science in early grade levels. Apparently, those politicians assumed any mention of “climate” was a de facto endorsement of the theory of man-made climate change.

In reality, education officials felt it was important for students living in a state known for tornados and other natural disasters to have some working knowledge of weather and climate. The Oklahoma Science Teachers Association notes Oklahoma’s prior science standards also included references to weather and climate.

Thanks to HB 3399, Oklahomans may not have to worry about the alleged nefarious influence of national groups on Oklahoma schools. Instead, they must now worry that state lawmakers will wreck the system for purposes of political posturing. In this case, the “cure” to purported problems with Common Core may be as bad as the disease.

The Oklahoman

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    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

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    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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