Hickman, Nelson Criticize Federal No Child Left Behind Action As ‘Punitive’

House Media Division

Oklahoma House leaders expressed disappointment today after learning the federal government will pursue a punitive course of action following Oklahoma’s repeal of Common Core State Standards earlier this year.

Oklahoma officials received a letter today from the United States Department of Education stating they will not renew Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver. This heavy handed decision comes after the passage of House Bill 3399, a measure which repealed the untested Common Core State Standards and put in place a process to develop and adopt new, superior standards with the help of Oklahoma higher-education and CareerTech systems. The U.S. Department of Education has deemed Oklahoma’s pursuit of proven college and career-ready standards to be a failure to adhere to the NCLB waiver principles.

“We knew the federal government could opt to take some actions when we passed HB3399,” said House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview. “None-the-less, this decision is troubling because it sets back the efforts of our local schools to continue improving by imposing on them unhelpful and unnecessary regulations. This situation makes it even more imperative that the State Board of Education move quickly to begin the process of creating and adopting new superior standards.”

In a letter to Oklahoma officials, Deborah Delisle, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, explained the basis of their decision stating that “Oklahoma can no longer demonstrate that the state’s standards are college and career-ready standards.”

“I challenge the U.S. Dept. of Education to ‘demonstrate’ that Common Core is college and career ready in Oklahoma before they begin dictating how we run our state’s education system,” said Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “They can’t do it. Each state’s college remediation requirements are different and they have absolutely no idea if Common Core meets their own requirements.

“In the Obama administration’s determination to compel Oklahoma to stay with Common Core, they plan to impose onerous federal regulations on our education system that were unnecessary this morning but are now, amazingly, necessary this afternoon. It’s obvious that states like Oklahoma must not flinch in taking back control of our standards if we truly want standards that can be ‘demonstrated’ to be college and career ready. Unfortunately, this letter is the latest example of the slow death of federalism which is being replaced with flawed logic.”

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  1. Corey Holland, 28 August, 2014

    No surprise here. Anyone paying attention knew this would be the response of Arne Duncan & Obama. This is just one necessary step toward Oklaoma moving to getting the federal government out of the education business. The lesson to learn is don’t let the enticement of federal grant money lead you to support more federal intervention in a state issue. In fairness to the democrats No Child Left Behind is a Pres. Bush initiative. If the republicans regain control in Washington–they should be the ones to clean up the mess this initiative has created.

  2. Steve Dickson, 29 August, 2014

    This decision impacts $29 million of the $3.4 BILLION in education funding for 2014 (out of a total state budget of $7.1 BILLION). So, “education” gets about 48% of the state budget. Do we have a shortage of money, or a problem with spending here?

    I am the father of 3 kids in public schools, with a 4th on deck. The constant appeals for more cash makes me furious. I do NOT want more money going to education. I want a restructure of the whole system – from pre-K to the universities (including taking tuition rates away from the Regents and putting it back in the legislature).

    According to Oklahoma Watch, in 2011-12 we ranked 6th in spending on district administration, 16th in school administration, and 40th in instruction (which includes teacher pay). We have tinkered and modified a system that was built by democrats, for democrats, over an 80 year period. We need to scrap the whole thing and decide, from the ground up, what it SHOULD look like.

    As long as we are begging for federal dollars, they’re going to dictate what we do with them. We need to figure out how to reduce and eventually eliminate our dependency on DC.


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