OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s State Board of Education voted on Wednesday for a second time to delay a formal plan for adopting new education standards in math and English amid opposition to the proposal from three education groups that represent public school boards and administrators across Oklahoma.
The board voted 5-1 to delay action on the plan, despite concerns from State Superintendent Janet Barresi that the education groups were trying to “hijack the process.” Barresi cast the lone dissenting vote on the motion to table approval of the new standards process.
“There’s barely enough time to get all of this done,” Barresi said. “We’re ready to get started.”
The board’s next regularly scheduled board meeting is Aug. 28.
The board has been directed to oversee the development of a new set of standards in math and English after the Legislature earlier this year repealed the Common Core standards that were scheduled to take full effect in the upcoming school year. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in more than 40 states, have come under increasing attack from grassroots conservative groups who contend the standards represent federal intrusion into Oklahoma’s education system.
Barresi, an outspoken supporter of the Common Core standards, was defeated in last month’s Republican primary in her bid for a second term as Oklahoma’s top education official.
The board already had delayed taking any action on the development of new standards after four board members last month sued the state over the Legislature’s repeal of Common Core, arguing that the Legislature usurped the board’s constitutional authority. The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected that argument.
The process for adopting the new standards was developed by the state Department of Education and calls for the creation of four separate executive committees, each with about two dozen members, to work on the standards. A steering committee will oversee the process, while another draft review committee will write the standards.
The plan calls for an initial draft of the standards to be prepared by June 2015 so that public comment can be solicited and a final draft of the standards be prepared by October 2015.
Board member Leo Baxter, a retired military general, expressed concern that the executive committees could become unwieldy.
“Don’t you think we’ve kind of gotten into overkill on this deal? We’ve created something here that’s very time consuming,” Baxter said. “We’ve created a really tough bureaucracy here, even with the best of the intentions.”
Another board member, Amy Ford, said she wanted more time to talk to stakeholders and other interested parties before approving the plan to develop new standards.
“We just want to have time to take a breath,” said Ford, who was one of the board members who sued to stop the repeal of Common Core.
Until the new standards are developed — a process that is expected to take up to two years — Oklahoma schools will revert back to the old Priority Academic Student Skills, or PASS, standards that were in place in 2010.
In a letter to the board members on Tuesday, the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, and the United Suburban Schools Association asked board members to delay any further action on the current plan to rewrite the standards. The groups want to wait until the PASS standards have been determined to be “college and career ready” by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.