This last week has been an exciting one in the life of the Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS). Here's what you need to know.
- The public began making comment on the new OAS after the release of the first draft in June of 2015. ROPE also began following the process, writing numerous blogs containing reviews and comments of the OAS throughout the process.
- OSDE released four drafts of the OAS along with standards experts and community reviews through January 8th, 2016.
- Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. Larry Gray - the two standards experts brought in by the Oklahoma Standards Process Steering Committee in February 2015 to provide input on the standards creation process - publicly commented on the standards through ROPE and Oklahoma Watch after the third draft of the OAS were released. Both Stotsky and Gray commented that work was needed before the final draft, if Oklahoma was to have standards of excellence for Oklahoma students and teachers.
- According to HB3399 the new OAS was to be presented by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to the legislature at the beginning of the legislative session. This was done by the OSDE in February following the release of the fourth draft in January.
- Following the presentation of the OAS to the legislature where both Stotsky and Gray were listed as final reviewers (slide 13), neither Stotsky nor Gray said they were asked to submit a final review.
- Upon legislative request, Stotsky and Gray submitted final reviews in which both detailed issues they believed required fixing BEFORE the standards were approved by the legislature.
- After reading public OAS reviews from the OSDE website and that of Stotsky and Gray, ROPE prepared a "literature review" style paper outlining problems other standards reviewers found with the OAS - many of which overlapped.
- ROPE was attacked via social media (all which are addressed here) regarding the literature review.
- Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Gray (and others) present their concerns to the legislature Tuesday March 15th. A document created by the South Central Comprehensive Center (SC3) - housed at the University of Oklahoma - was also presented as containing the same and similar criticisms as Stotsky and Gray.
- HB3399 was interpreted to say that, if the legislature failed to act (disapproving the standards in part, returning them to the OSDE to be fixed, or approved with orders to the OSDE to fix the documents as outlined) the OAS would become law as submitted to the legislature in February.
- Three bills were created - two in the House (HJR1070 and HJR1071) and one in the Senate (SJR75) - mandating that the standards be fixed in the ways outlined by the SC3 document. Only SJR75 provided that the edited standards be fixed and returned to the Legislature for verification of changes.
- SJR75 was amended in the Senate with one outcome being that the standards would not be returned to the legislature for verification. HJR1070 was also amended and then passed by the House. HJR1071 was not taken up by the House for a vote.
- HJR1070 was sent to the Senate for a floor vote.
- Once passed by the House, HJR1070 was sent to the Senate for a vote, but Senator John Ford would not allow the chair of the Senate to hear the bill on the floor, though he had promised it would be heard in the Senate that afternoon.
- Because HB3399 was originally interpreted to mean that Wednesday March 23, 2016 was the last day of the session to pass any resolution requiring amending of the OAS by the legislature, Superintendent Joy Hofmeister sent out a press release saying the new OAS had been adopted.
- The Attorney General's office confirmed that the correct reading of HB3399 meant that Monday, March 28, 2016 was in fact the last day for the legislature to act on the OAS.
- Work continued on HJR1070, and by Friday, it appeared there might be legislative consensus for a vote on the bill in the Senate that same Monday
- Monday, March 28th, the Senate convened, voted to adjourn and then immediately gavelled out, preventing HJR1070 from receiving a Senate vote.
- The new OAS were adopted without any of the identified corrections being legislated by the House or Senate, providing no assurance to the people the standards would be corrected as identified.
- Only 10 Senators voted AGAINST adjourning; Allen, Boggs, Brecheen, Dahm, Mazzei, Shortey, Silk, Standridge, Stanislawski and Sykes.
As of March 28th, the new Oklahoma Academic Standards, earlier approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Education, are now law.
Obviously, this was a very disappointing turn of events, but one not new for Oklahoma. As you might remember, we once had to take to the 5th Floor by the hundreds, carrying signs asking the representative of the people in the Senate to HEAR THE BILLS.
So, after all the years of work and effort, followed by all the years of watchdogging the process, it's over. Oklahoma has new academic standards. It's a shame the process was neither smooth, nor did it follow HB3399. The New OAS became yet another issue dealt with in our Capitol that descended into the process of political wrangling, without real consideration for what was best for children of the state. We hope everyone who has a Senator up for re-election this year, notes whether or not he/she voted to ADJOURN the senate without doing what they are paid to do - the PEOPLE'S work.