Academic standards pass in both Senate, House

Nathan ThompsonJournal-Capital
Academic standards pass in both Senate, House

OKLAHOMA CITY — Two separate resolutions passed the state Senate and House Monday that approve the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

In the Senate, Senate Joint Resolution 75 was authored by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore. The original wording of the resolution disapproved of the new academic standards.

However, after discussion in committee and on the floor of the Senate, Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, offered an amendment to the measure that approved the standards, but with some instructions for clarification to the State Board of Education. The amended resolution passed the Senate, 30-16.

“Over the past year, Oklahoma educators have invested their expertise in these standards,” Ford said. “Now is the time to let them and the Oklahoma State Department of Education undertake the hard work of implementation. I am grateful that, in part due to the amendments in SJR 75, they will be allowed to do so.”

On the House side, members passed an amended House Joint Resolution 1070, authored by House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, and co-authored by Ford in the Senate. The amended resolution passed the full House of Representatives with a 68-20 vote.

Like the Senate counterpart, the Oklahoma Academic Standards were approved with instructions to the State Board of Education.

“The Legislature created an historic process two years ago with passage of House Bill 3399 to bring higher education, CareerTech and common education together for the first time in the history of our state to produce new academic standards which will prepare Oklahoma children for their future,” Hickman said. “I commend Superintendent (Joy) Hofmeister and the State Board of Education staff who worked with members of the House to put forth the right process and prove to detractors that Oklahoma academic standards are the very best.”

The new academic standards had come under scrutiny as recently as Friday, when an out-of-state group issued a report saying the Oklahoma standards were “lacking depth and quality.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said the last-minute criticisms were political ploys. After the amended resolutions passed both chambers, Hofmeister said the new language addressed most of those concerns.

“We are grateful to Oklahoma House and Senate leaders and everyone who voted to pass House Joint Resolution 1070 and Senate Joint Resolution 75,” Hofmeister said. “The additional language to both resolutions addresses our concerns and gives the State Board of Education the flexibility to make modifications to the standards. In doing so, we can make improvements without delaying the vital, and time-sensitive, implementation process.”

According to Hofmeister, the school districts across the state are ready to begin implementation of the new standards.

“State and district officials who have been calling for adoption of these superior standards can soon begin crafting curriculum frameworks that will enable educators to bring the standards to life for students in Oklahoma classrooms,” Hofmeister said. “Oklahoma teachers are ready to get to work with these standards that were written by Oklahomans for Oklahomans, and we believe their voices were heard today.”