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July 12, 2014

State education standards raise qualification questions

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

McCampbell, a former U.S. attorney, said while some legislators may have “real expertise” in the classroom, it’s obvious the Legislature has not added in a process to select people with expertise in area.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Tuesday.

Youth pastor and legislator Josh Cockcroft, R-Tecumseh, who co-authored the bill repealing the Common Core in Oklahoma, said the final power should rest with the Legislature. He said the idea of legislative control has “tremendous support” in his district.

“People in my district are more eager to produce local control,” he said.

Though not an educator, Cockcroft said he maintains close communication with school districts and parents, and he will take plans for standards home to get feedback as to whether they’ll work.

But Phyllis Hudecki, former state secretary of education under Fallin, said there’s a difference between reading standards on paper and knowing what’s appropriate.

Hudecki, who now leads the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition, said she has teaching experience and multiple college degrees, including a Ph.D., but even she would struggle to know what’s appropriate outside her area of expertise.

Most people wouldn’t know when to teach children about butterflies, she said, or whether it’s best to teach a child to read using phonics, or at what age to teach algebra.

“I am just shuddering thinking about how this is going to come out,” she said.

No matter who wins control over the standards, Hudecki said creating them is a daunting task.

“Developing standards requires deep knowledge of the subject, but also deep knowledge of how children learn,” she said.

Anyone developing education standards, she said, needs to have the skill to do it, with a good understanding of what’s grade appropriate and how to align standards accordingly. She wouldn’t want someone with low expectations setting math standards, she said.

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