State School Board Members and Others Sue State Over HB3399

I told you in May that the national Associations of State Boards of Education (NASBE) had sent a letter to Governor Mary Fallin explaining they would sue Oklahoma over the Constitutionality of having the state legislature sign off on the standards.  I poo-pooed the whole letter as nonsense - how in the world could NASBE - an out of state lobbying organization have standing in Oklahoma to sue us over a law our own legislature passed?

Well, apparently they didn't, so they got Oklahomans as Plantiffs and had them file a lawsuit.  Here are the willing accomplices:  Heather sparks, teacher of the year, Leo Baxter, Amy Anne Ford, William F. Shdeed and Daniel Keating, Oklahoma State School Board members.  Also Nancy Kunsman, Elizabeth Luecke, Leonardo DeAndrade (doesn't he drive formula one race cars?), Mara Novy and Charles Edward Pack, II.  I don't know anything about the last two - apparently they are either teachers or parents as described by some of the recent news stories about this.

This is the Section with which they are alleging HB3399 conflicts:

Section XIII-5: Board of Education.The supervision of instruction in the public schools shall be vested in a Board of Education, whose powers and duties shall be prescribed by law. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be President of the Board. Until otherwise provided by law, the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General shall be ex-officio members, and with the Superintendent, compose said Board of Education.
The lawsuit alleges that the legislature is encroaching on the right of the state school board to supervise instruction in public schools by allowing the legislature to review and modify state educational standards if that is deemed necessary by the citizens of Oklahoma.  Let's review a few reasons this is ridiculous.
  • What did the legislature do when they passed SB2033 in 2010? That was two whole sets of standards passed together before they were even in finalized form. So it was ok for the legislature then and not now? 
  • Where does it actually say that only the state school board can oversee standards?
  • The way I understand it, the legislature can already vote down the rules the state board makes to accept the standards in the first place, basically negating the standards - we just did that with the National Science Standards re-named Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science.
Here are a few other observations:
  • Isn't it interesting our own state board members are filing this suit? 
  • Isn't it interesting they are appointed by Mary Fallin - current chair of the NGA? 
  • Isn't it interesting this lawsuit would be filed the day after the historic election in which Janet Barresi - the incumbent, the Chairman of the Board and a Common Core proponent - came in dead last in a primary? 
Does anyone wonder here whether Governor Fallin signed the bill knowing they were going to bring action against it, hoping to stop the oversight process and therefore slip Common Core back into the standards?

Yes, these are all fascinating questions upon which to ruminate.  Sadly, they all make some kind of sense in a statist, sour grapes kind of way!  The Board were Barresi supporters.  Why?  Because Governor Fallin is a Barresi supporter.  The Board serves at the pleasure of the Governor, therefore the Board does as the Governor - NOT THE PEOPLE - wishes.

Here's another gem: The filing attorneys are saying the lawsuit must be heard quickly because school starts in several months and it will create havoc for schools and teachers if it's not promptly heard. That's GARBAGE! This particular issue doesn't even apply until the standards are re-written and that can take up to two years.  Teachers are not going to be inconvenienced if this lawsuit isn't settled before school begins in the fall.  It has nothing to do with the standards themselves, just the process of completing them.  We've gone back to PASS and nothing will change that now until new standards are written.  You know lawsuits are full of garbage and hot air when they affix so much unnecessary drama to them.

It's awfully fun to point out here that our Oklahoma Constitution SPECIFIES that Oklahoma will only provide an education to children until they are 16.  

Section XIII-4: Compulsory school attendance. The Legislature shall provide for the compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided, of all the children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in each year.
Why aren't high school parents suing for warehousing their kids until they're 18 or older?  Kids, you don't have to attend public school once you turn 16!  Make sure to tell your principal and superintendent you'll sue them if they call you in truant after that time.  

Not only that, but Pre-K and Kindergarten programs HAVE TO GO!  Until your child is 8 years old, the state cannot educate them!  We need to go back and remove all that money we're spending on Pre-K.  That will be an outstanding way to free up some extra cash for teachers and classrooms!

But wait!  The state doesn't have to provide Special Education classes either.  How about if taxpayers begin to sue the state for using taxpayer money to fund Special Education classes?  
What would this do to legislation such as the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship which most certainly falls under the category of special education?  What would it do to school choice?  Well, never mind,  I think it's a grand idea!  I'm with the state school board!  Let's follow the Constitution!  Let's just play this game all the way out.

I think ROPE should go on a campaign to make parents aware of the Constitution immediately.  Thanks for the idea of sticking to the state Constitution Fellers/Snider/Blankenship/Bailey and Tippens law firm!  Too bad our points are actually spelled out in the text of the document and yours are contrived to make a point and stymie parents that were simply trying to make their voices heard on behalf of their children and families. 


  1. Technically, special ed teachers are paid with federal funds, but I basically agree with you. A constitutional education campaign is in order.

    1. Anonymous9:47 AM

      Barbara, thank you so much for the info. Is this IDEA? Can you give us the statute/s that provide for Special Ed. I know that IDEA has been awful about bringing the federal government into private schools. This is just another way WE ALLOW the feds to dictate STATE policies and procedures in education. (Jenni)

    2. Anonymous: You do realize, of course, that IDE (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was instrumental to ensuring students with learning, physical, and cognitive disabilities ranging from AD/HD to Diabetes received fair treatment and reasonable/necessary modifications in school, aren't you? Or do you pine for the good ol' days when diabetics were told to sit down and shut up when their blood sugar levels dropped to comatose levels or when students with Intellecutal Disabilites (formerly "Mental Retardation") were told to stay home, or when students with Aspergers were called idiots and locked in book supply rooms so as not to annoy other students?

  2. Anonymous3:52 PM

    "Must take action quickly before school starts!" Conveying this tactic and message speaks volumes on part of the representatives of the opponents of HB3399. This is agitprop which is defined as agitation with propaganda. If this is a fiber of the tapestry of their actions, then the same fiber will be found throughout the tapestry of their organized plan to eliminate HB3399.

    You did a good job of exposing the facts. They are trying to gather people on board for their personal agenda without giving full facts. I am glad you filled in for them. Good luck on winning this to the end.

  3. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Then how do we get rid of these idiots????

  4. Anonymous2:42 PM

    "...warehousing their kids until their 18 or older?" The second "their" should be "they're". I thought this was an education blog...

    1. Thank you so much for pointing that out anonymous.

  5. I find the entire debate to be a comedy of errors. Obama didn't create Common Core; George H.W. Bush began the process in 1989, and the CCSS were finalized prior to Obama's presidency. The Feds were also squeezed out at the finalization of CCSS. CCSS is a set of standards created by educational leaders utilizing high-order thinking skills, Socratic thinking, and visual/kinesthetic pedagogies. They are not a curriculum. Finally, I use CCSS, and the growth in my students has been fantastic. I find it odd that we opted out before implementation-how do you evaluate efficacy without implementation?-and after districts spent their once-every-6-to-7-year curricular funds. Back to PASS-and 49th in the Union-we go. I hope the districts kept their old, obsolete textbooks.