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July 12, 2014

State education standards raise qualification questions

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

“It’s not as simple as being able to read the standards,” she said, noting that it will likely take about two years to develop strong standards. There are also concerns about how the current political climate will shape what is taught in the classroom, she said.

Educators across the state were preparing to implement the Common Core fully for the first time this fall before Fallin repealed it. The program, which has been adopted by more than 40 states and was embraced by the National Governors Association, which Fallin now leads, sets national standards for children in kindergarten through grade 12 in an effort to enhance critical thinking skills and make the education process more rigorous. Local districts are allowed to select the curriculum used to teach the standards.

With the repeal, the state will revert back to its 2010 set of standards until new standards are reached.

Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said educators are “very concerned” when faced with the idea of non-educators deciding what should be taught.

“Legislators are intelligent people,” Hampton said. “They’re good at their field. But I would not go to the very best lawyer and ask him how to do brain surgery. Nor do I think the very best legislator should think they’re experts on curriculum.”

Hampton said her ideal solution would be to have the state Board of Education form a committee of educators from all grade and subject areas that would ultimately have the final say.

She said it’s difficult when a teacher knows what needs to be done but is “forced to follow guidelines that are set up by somebody that has no idea of what the little individuals in your class need and can do.”

“Because learning is definitely not one-size fits all,” she said.

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