Oklahoma Did Repeal Common Core, But We Must Remain Vigilant

Apparently I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I’ve been called a number of things before, but this is a first.  Charlotte Iserbyt decided to take a swipe at me while calling the Oklahoma repeal fake.  Iserbyt seems long on accusations and short on facts, but I don’t want to make this post about me.  I don’t really care about that, but I am deeply concerned about the subversive effect her article has on not only the grassroots work done in Oklahoma but other states as well.  Regarding the crux of her article – that Oklahoma passed a “fake repeal” – Iserbyt also seems to be long on complaints and short on solutions.

Iserbyt’s article unfortunately was circulated around social media this weekend.  Instead of recreating the wheel I thought I would share a short, succinct rebuttal that Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education gave.

1. Once they are written, the new standards have to be compared BY LAW against common core.

2. The new standards must have legislative approval BY LAW before they can be adopted, so all those interested in reviewing the standards can ask their legislator to address the parts of the standards that appear problematic and

3. The term ‘college and career readiness’ which is believed to be a placeholder for Common Core, is defined in the bill – specifically – as those standards approved by higher ed and career tech.

Now, does passage of this bill mean we all go back to sleep knowing Common Core is dead in Oklahoma? ABSOLUTELY NOT! There is an election this month on the 24 to help determine a new school superintendent. There is an election in November to determine who will be our next governor. If you are convinced our leadership is playing us for fools, stop complaining and criticizing our efforts and get out there and change the course of these elections! To the victor goes the spoils! We have shown we can beat the big money – just us poor voting parents! Get out there and continue making a difference. Finish what you started! We can make our government work for us, we’ve shown that! Never, never, never give up!

Jenni’s advice, which I would second, is to read the bill for yourself.

I also wanted to address their complaint that Oklahoma’s NCLB waiver request was amended to change the words of “Common Core” to “College and Career Ready.”  Since I “don’t have enough of a background in education” (according to Iserbyt) I thought I’d include some comments that Ze’ev Wurman shared in order to clarify why this change was made (his comments are italicized):

Under NCLB each state had to have K-12 standards, and a definition of “proficiency” that goes with them. The name of the standards, or their academic strength, or the level of that proficiency, were left to the states. The only thing the feds (USED) insisted is that the state takes the bi-annual NAEP so that tracking of overall state student achievement — the only truly legitimate function of USED — could be achieved.

NCLB required that all student be proficient in all tested grades (3-8, one HS grade) by 2014, by the state’s own definition of proficiency. Already in 2007, when it became clear that most/all states won’t meet this goal, the focus started to shift from grade-level proficiency to HS graduation. In 2008 USED issued regulations how to uniformly measure HS graduation (but NOT what graduation means or what it takes — each state had its own definitions what it takes to graduate HS). Still, as NCLB was not re-authorized by 2008, the old grade-level proficiency goals stayed in place.

Under Arne Duncan and since 2009, the national (Common Core) standards were pushed to replace the state-specific standards, and the hope was that the federally-sponsored tests going with them will replace state testing and impose uniform cut-scores across states, effectively defining uniform curricular expectations and uniform definition of proficiency across the nation. (This part is still up in the air. Not only have many states bailed out of the consortia, but whether the consortia will be successful in imposing uniform cut-scores for all their members is quite unclear.)

The second major thing that USED hoped to achieve with Common Core under Duncan is to change the national expectations of what graduating a high school means. Until now each state defined what it took (credits, subjects, etc.) and how it could be achieved. Until now, HS graduation in itself did not say anything about whether the student was ready to attend college of one type or another, or vocational post-secondary education, or neither. Each state had its own definition of the necessary coursework and achievement needed to attend state colleges, typically significantly beyond plain HS graduation.  And we’ve had SAT/ACT to help set objective measures of student achievement to assist in enrolling in private and out-of-state colleges. But I am unaware of any state that, for example, expected a particular SAT/ACT achievement level (say over 500 on the SAT) for its HS graduation.

This is only to be expected, because nobody was stupid enough to expect every child to continue to college (or be ready for it), while we expected essentially all students to graduate high school — after all, that’s what mandatory K-12 education is about. But the Common Core changed that: now the expectation was that HS students proficient on Common Core will be “college (and career) ready,” and that Common Core proficiency will become a high school graduation requirement.” In other words, all HS students will now be expected to become college ready.

This “college-readiness” was intended eventually to replace much of the grade-level proficiency under NCLB. The waivers offered states path to that end — they allow states to replace or modify their grade-level proficiency goals, in return for having “career- and college-ready standards,” hopefully attached to their HS graduation. So far this is still in a form of a “push” rather than a requirement. From the USED 2012 flexibility waivers FAQ:

[State] will report annually to the public on college-going and college credit-accumulation rates, as defined under State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) Indicators (c)(11) and (c)(12), for all students and subgroups of students in each LEA and each public high school in the State.

If, however, we go back to Obama’s NCLB re-authorization blueprint from March 2010, the ultimate direction of making HS graduation equal college-readiness is quite explicit:

To ensure that all students are learning what they need to succeed, standards must be based on evidence regarding what students must know and be able to do at each grade level to be on track to graduate from high school college- and career-ready

Getting back to Oklahoma, South Carolina, and other states withdrawing from Common Core, what they face is a decision to give up on their waiver, or to try and keep it. Most will choose to try and keep it. To achieve that, states MUST replace Common Core with their own standards that are labelled “college- and career-ready.” These standards do not have to be Common Core like, and can go much beyond (or even below) Common Core, but they have to be “blessed” by state colleges as preparing students (who are successful on some subset of them) for attending college. That is not much different from the situation before Common Core, where many states already had effectively “college ready” standards even if they didn’t bother to call them so — if you took them up to, say, Algebra 1, you were good only for HS graduation. If you took them up to Algebra 2 or pre-calculus, you were deemed not only graduating HS but also “college ready.”

To summarize, having state standards that are “career- and college-ready” does not necessarily mean they are Common Core with just a name change. They can be that — as in Indiana — or they can be very different, as the Oklahoma HB3399 insists on. Anita Hoge confuses the new name (“college- and career-ready” that is mandatory to retain waivers) with standard’s content. She still may be right in the long run — depends how the Oklahoma standard-rewriting process goes — but on the face of it, HB3399 goes a long way to try and avoid a repeat of Indiana.

To echo what Jenni White and Ze’ev Wurman are saying here.  Could  a rebranding occur?  Perhaps, it is not outside the realm of possibility.  However, it certainly is not inevitable as Iserbyt suggests.  Also it is something that we will be watching for.  Nobody’s resting on their laurels.  That said, we can celebrate a victory, it’s just unfortunate that Iserbyt refuses to celebrate with us.

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About the Author ()

Shane Vander Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Caffeinated Thoughts, a popular Christian conservative blog in Iowa. He is also the President of 4:15 Communications, a social media & communications consulting/management firm, along with serving as the communications director for American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative.  Prior to this Shane spent 20 years in youth ministry serving in church, parachurch, and school settings.  He has taught Jr. High History along with being the Dean of Students for Christian school in Indiana.  Shane and his wife home school their three teenage children and have done so since the beginning.   He has recently been recognized by Campaigns & Elections Magazine as one of the top political influencers in Iowa. Shane and his family reside near Des Moines, IA.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Google +.

Comments (11)

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  1. NV Silver Dollar says:

    The conspiracy types such as Iserbyt will never be satisfied. Either things go their way and only their way 100% of the time or it’s a CIA/Illuminati/etc plot that they love to be in a perpetual war against. Even if a true libertarian became president someday and everything that they ever wanted to happen would happen, they would still never trust the guy and the actions of a hypothetical similar-minded congress. I’m glad that people such as yourself are speaking up for parents and teachers. I’m also glad that there was language in the SC and OK bills that prevents them from “Penceing” Common Core. But yeah, keep your eyes peeled regardless. A true patriot stays vigilant, not paranoid or lazy. I hope that Nevada will eventually get there, once Sandoval stops kissing up to Obama and the Clark County voters stop putting in the same losers into the legislature.

    • mkultraisreal says:

      Charlotte has research for longer than most of us have been alive. She has the facts, but she is bitter about Heritage but they are not pure by any sense of the word. Charlotte just needs to learn to help activists instead of insulting them. She is neither lazy nor paranoid.

      All of the universities and colleges are accredited by UNESCO. Robin Eubanks discovered this sad fact by in here research even though she was not looking for it specifically.

      Therefore I fail to see how approval from higher ed on any standards or readiness for career or college could be an honest process for the student.

      Divide and conquer is a classic military tactic, Charlotte knows better and the bitter people around her need to shape up. Next time contact Shane before you insult him.

    • mkultraisreal says:

      You would call John Quincy Adams paranoid. The WHIG party was blowing the same horn as Charlotte.

  2. Bob Holland says:

    The Reagan principle should apply: “Trust, but verify.” The Oklahoma folks have done a great job and I am sure they will continue to be vigilant. Don’t let the Iserbyt barbs bother you. They are par for the course.

    • Thanks, like I said, I was more concerned with how they were sowing seeds of doubt among some. This article was the source of numerous emails & Facebook messages I received over the weekend.

  3. jlw says:

    Totally perfect Shane – as usual. Thanks Ze’ev for your awesome info! I agree with Nevada Silver Dollar; there are conspiracy theorists and realists. I’ll choose to stay grounded in realism with a healthy dose of the skepticism necessary to stay vigilant!

  4. Anita Hoge says:

    Shane,
    I haven’t been confused. My research is pretty much on target. Please verify.
    Have you read the Oklahoma ESEA Flexibility Waiver? Do you think by my stating that there is a signed waiver by Superintendent Barrisi, that I am “sowing seeds of doubt?” If you haven’t read the waiver, you should. i am trying to warn parents that they are being fooled. My heart goes out to the great parents and people who have been fighting Common Core. I know what this battle is about. I lead Pennsylvania through some of the worse in the 90’s. But, they are off track. HB 3399 says the State Board could seek federal waivers in D(2). The waiver dated April 4, 2014, explains that the Common Core will be incorporated into the Oklahoma Academic Standards. How can you say they repealed Common Core when it was renamed OAS. this agenda is moving full steam ahead in the federal ESEA Flexibility Waiver. And BTW, they should not go with ACT…it is totally aligned with Common Core. They developed the Common Core benchmarks in 2003. ACT has had the contract with the Dept of Labor since the 90’s to test workforce readiness. That’s history 101.

    I am very sorry that Oklahoma has been sidetracked. I would be glad to help them or any state fight this agenda.
    Anita Hoge

    • Anita, yes I have. I disagree with your interpretation. I think we’ve been very clear that a rebranding could still happen and that we need to be diligent. Anyway, I trust these people about as far as I can throw them. The standards will be rewritten, and by law will be compared to the Common Core. We need to pay attention to what happens.

      Speaking of reading… when did I call you confused? I can’t recollect saying you were confused.

  5. asiliveandbreathe says:

    Jindal did the same thing in Louisiana. After his “veto” of HB953 we have learned from the state superintendent that former legislation had bound us to Common Core anyway. Legal experts agree. The veto was just a show pony. I’m afraid Oklahoma is in the same boat.

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