A lawsuit challenging the Legislature's repeal of Common Core education standards for English and math is being scrutinized by Oklahoma's highest court just one month before public school students are scheduled to return to the classroom.
The Court may have the last word in whether the state will retain the Common Core stands after Justices hear oral arguments Tuesday.
Parents, teachers and four members of the Oklahoma Board of Education allege lawmakers violated the board's constitutional authority over the "supervision of instruction in the public schools" when they repealed Common Core standards scheduled to go into effect in the upcoming school year.
Conservative groups maintained that Common Core represents a federal intrusion into Oklahoma's public education system, and Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill into law last month.
The legislation passed during the last session directed the state Board of Education to drop Common Core academic standards, return to those in place in 2010 and develop new standards by 2016.
The lawsuit claims there is a major difference between Common Core and the previous standards that could leave Oklahoma students at a disadvantage when compared to students in other states. In an Associated Press summary of the lawsuit’s rational:
MATHEMATICS: Among other things, the lawsuit states that Common Core standards require second-graders to understand decimal notations in math problems. The earlier standards for second-graders do not include decimals but instead require solving problems involving the number of days in a week, month or year, according to the lawsuit.
ENGLISH: The state's previous education standards for English emphasized reading predominantly fiction. Common Core increased the focus on literacy in informational, technical, scientific, historical and other types of writing, the lawsuit states.
CRITICAL THINKING: The earlier state standards emphasized students' retention of information about what they have read, such as identifying the characters, retelling the main events and describing the setting. Common Core emphasized critical thinking and analysis, including comparing and contrasting the experiences of different characters, what the author was attempting to convey and the information the author used effectively to make a point, according to the lawsuit.
National Governors Association Was Co-Sponsor of the Common Core Initiative
The National Governors Association co-sponsored the developed of the Common Core standards with the Council of Chief State School Officers several years ago. It is not a federal program but the U.S. Department of Education said it would recognize the Common Core standards for some of the competitive grants offered.
At the NGA’s summer meeting in Nashville just this past week, there was little discussion.
Facing opposition from staunch conservatives, the Common Core education standards designed to improve schools and student competitiveness are being modified by some Republican governors. They cite concern about the federal government's role in the classroom.
The educational standards were not on the formal agenda during a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association in Nashville, but were discussed along the sidelines of the meeting.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says the words, "Common Core," have become "radioactive," echoing a sentiment from tea party leaders who say the education plan amounts to a federal takeover of local education.
In addition to Governor Mary Fallin, governors in Indiana and South Carolina have signed legislation to repeal the standards while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking steps to block the use of tests tied to the standards.
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