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In About-Face, Oklahoma Senate Approves New Education Standards

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In a big switch, Oklahoma state senators gave initial approval Monday to new English and math standards from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

A committee overhaul of the bill originally sending those standards back for revision also cut the legislature out of future updates and changes. Sen. J.J. Dossett was among those supporting the new version of Senate Joint Resolution 75.

"The common problem for educators in Oklahoma is we do not have a steady set of standards. It's always changing, and that's happened quite often lately," Dossett said. "This is something I think we need to move forward with, adopt, so our educators can start wrapping their minds around it, implementing it and doing good for our kids, which is their job, not ours."

Sen. Clark Jolley questioned lawmakers' need for continued involvement in creating education standards.

"I don't know too many states that the legislature is engaged in the micromanagement of the standards as we have placed them in Oklahoma," Jolley said.

Sen. Joshua Brecheen, the original author of SJR75, wanted that oversight preserved, pointing to reviewers critical of the proposed standards.

"When you're average, you're just as close to the bottom as you are from the top," Brecheen said. "It was never the desire for those of us who put this forth two years ago to come back with OK standards. OK in terms of Oklahoma, yes, but as the experts are saying, we can't even show the validity that they're Oklahoma."

SJR75 also tells the department of education to help teachers update their curriculums and come up with new tests for the 2017–18 school year.

The full Senate passed the resolution Monday afternoon 30–16.