The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 5, 2013

Okla. House hearing held on Common Core resistance

Sean Murphy
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's decision several years ago to approve a set of education standards known as Common Core drew bitter criticism on Tuesday from a group of parents, teachers and legislators who want to stop the new standards from going into effect next year.

More than a dozen opponents of Common Core testified before the House Administrative Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Gus Blackwell, a longtime critic of adopting the Common Core standards.

"Local innovation and drive is the key to success, not national standards," said Blackwell, R-Lavern. "It doesn't work for health care, and it's not going to work for education."

There is growing opposition, especially among some conservative House legislators, to the standards that were approved in 2010 and are now being implemented by Oklahoma school districts. Blackwell said he plans to introduce a bill next session to remove the standards from law.

Common Core standards have been adopted in 45 states and include basic requirements for students in math and English. Oklahoma also has adopted standards for social studies and science.

Some opponents claim the standards are a federal intrusion into the state's public education system, and House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, introduced a bill earlier this year to repeal them.

But State Superintendent Janet Barresi, Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican leaders in the Senate all have said they support adopting Common Core standards as a way to help better prepare students for college or the workforce.

"Common Core is basically an agreement between states to raise the level of academic rigor in the classroom and to use testing to track that progress," said Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz. "The governor supports raising academic rigor and the idea behind Common Core."

Weintz also noted that Common Core was not developed by the federal government, but by the National Governors Association, which is currently chaired by Fallin. He says the governor also is sensitive to the concerns of some that the federal government might try to "co-opt" the standards and push states aside.

"We take those concerns seriously, and as we move forward with implementation, are interested in exploring safeguards to ensure local control and to ensure that tests and curricula are made for and by Oklahomans, and to protect against federal intrusion," Weintz said.

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Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy .