Today was a banner day in Oklahoma. Today was the day the Speaker of the House of Representatives - the new, up-and-coming conservative Speaker who will be speaking at CPAC next week because he's so conservative - killed the Common Core State Standards Cost Task Force bill authored by Gus Blackwell (HB1907).
HB1907 passed out of the General Government committee unanimously, February 28th. It was to go to the Calendar Committee (newly organized by Speaker Shannon...why would we want to have accountability to the taxpayers for what gets on the House calendar held by ONE person? Why shouldn't we spread that accountability over a total of 18 people?) for a vote on whether or not it would be heard on the floor of the House. That week, we were told by Calendar Committee Chair, Representative Pam Peterson, that Speaker Shannon was holding all Task Force bills until other bills could be heard.
Fortuitously, directly after that meeting, we saw Representative Shannon walking in the hall. I practically galloped up next to him, and asked him to give HB1907 to the Calendar Committee because the Common Core had been put into law before the standards were even written, so of course there had never been a study done on the costs of the initiative. He looked at us and said, "I don't think you'll have any problems with that bill" before he walked off saying, "Now don't have a bunch of your people calling, asking me to put it on the Calendar. We'll get there."
We thought this was great news and prepared to move on to lobbying House members on our bill HB1989 to protect student privacy by preventing certain types of public school data collection and sharing (this passed out of the House unanimously March 11).
I was at "school" with my children today (Classical Conversations home school families meet once a week altogether in one place to review our lessons) when I got a frenetic phone call from Lynn. She told me she and Danna and Julia (all at the Capitol) had gone to check on the status of HB1907 and found that it would NOT leave Speaker Shannon's office. Speaker Shannon had killed the bill - the bill ROPE has been working on for THREE LONG YEARS - the bill developed out of our four year study on the Common Core!
Details were hard to get via phone and email, but apparently Speaker Shannon was told EARLY ON in the session BY THE GOVERNOR NOT to HEAR any Common Core bills and he was going to do exactly that.
Let these thoughts sink in:
- The Governor of the reddest state in the union, tells the Speaker NOT to hear a bill put forward by four housewives and mothers - simple TAXPAYERS, not lobbyists or organizations who are paid to see that bills pass or fail.
- The newly-minted Speaker tells self-same housewives, mothers and taxpayers he doesn't see a problem with getting their bill to the floor! Why? Apparently he knew all along he wasn't going to put the bill on the floor of the House for a vote.
- The Governor is AFRAID for Common Core bills to be heard. Why?
Governor Fallin is the Vice-Chair of the National Governor's Association. So what? Well, the NGA is a PRIVATE membership organization not subject to the Open Meetings Act that has PUSHED THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS FROM THE BEGINNING! In fact, the NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers are the two organizations that have pushed the Common Core State Standards down to the states! Look in the upper right hand corner of the CCSS home page to see BOTH their logos! Their list of Corporate Sponsors is ENORMOUS and contains most of the organizations supplying funding for the Common Core initiative.
Janet Barresi is a member of the CCSSO, a private membership organization - like the NGA - that has no oversight nor accountability to taxpayers for the programs they work with State Superintendents to implement in states. CCSSO partners with Bill Gates Foundation, Pearson, ACT, K12 (currently embroiled in a lawsuit for overselling investors on student achievement to inflate their stock prices) and many others - again many private donors to the Common Core initiative.
In addition, as we have reported previously a number of times, Superintendent Barresi is a member of Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), Chiefs for Change program. The FEE is soundly in the corner of having the federal government administrating LOCAL education - very small government stuff (snark). In addition, FEE and the Chiefs have long touted the Common Core State Standards. Jeb Bush and the FEE have written numerous education policy initiatives here in Oklahoma as evidenced by a paper trail of emails turned over via an FOI request made by the Washington Post, which begs the question as to why Oklahoma taxpayers are paying for Florida education reforms - that don't work even in Florida??? Why are we paying a Superintendent to merely fire off emails to the FEE to get them to write Oklahoma education policy?
Let's sum up:
- Most likely, Governor Fallin will NOT hear Common Core bills because she is afraid that after three years of lobbying, educating and studying we have enough votes to get a repeal of the Standards all the way to her desk. Having a Common Core 'nullification' bill pass the House and Senate in Oklahoma would no doubt cause some real pain for the Governor in her role as Vice Chair of the NGA - one of the two main supporters of the Common Core. The only plausible explanation here is that she MUST be more concerned about the future of her political career and her standing in the NGA than she is about Oklahoma children and taxpayers.
- Janet Barresi will not allow the Common Core to even be discussed at state board meetings let alone come to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote most probably because she couldn't DARE go against the FEE! Why would she want to? She has the fabulous, "I'm open to running for president so I can spread more of my BIG GOVERNMENT Republican Statism over the whole of America" Jeb Bush, also a speaker at CPAC this year in her hip pocket (or is it the other way around?)! In addition, Dr. Barresi has lucrative contracts with Pearson and other Common Core addicts/vendors. If they've been taking her to dinner, what else have they been doing?
Needless to say, both the Governor and the State Superintendent are FULLY PERSONALLY INVESTED IN THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS. What do you suppose the chances are of either of them hearing the clamoring of the grassroots activists, taxpayers, parents and others against the Common Core when all they can hear is the din of their burgeoning political careers surging in their ears?
This must stop. Either Janet and Mary quit playing Hear No Common Core, See No Common Core, Speak no Common Core, or we piddly little taxpayers who are paying to advance their political careers find them primary candidates from another more altruistic branch of the monkey family.
ADDENDUM: Representative Blackwell was told that if HB1907 was kept alive and passed the Senate and the House, the Governor would veto it. He was then offered an interim study to pull the bill. He would be in control of the interim study which would NOT occur in the the Common Education Committee and be allowed to continue over a number of days - in order to collect as much information as possible. Representative Blackwell is a good man and his intentions are pure. We are lucky to have him here in Oklahoma. He took the interim study option, although we here at ROPE can't help but wonder what it would have done to the Governor's grassroots political capital to veto a bill to examine SPENDING in Oklahoma in the face of our national debt and economy. It would have been nice to get all the legislators on record for their vote on the issue as well, but since Senate Education Committee Chair, Senator John Ford has consistently said he would NEVER hear a bill against the Common Core, it would have been quite the fight to even get it onto the Senate floor. Makes you wonder doesn't it? What exactly is the meaning of REPRESENTATIVE government?