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Debate, Tweaks To Continue As Oklahoma Lawmakers Approve New Education Standards

Truman Elementary School library
Jacob McCleland

The House and Senate each passed their respective versions of legislation dealing with proposed academic standards in math and English language arts Monday.

There was heated discussion at the state Capitol, and both bills require more work.

House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, debated relentlessly to pass the standards as they are so that they could be implemented as quickly as possible. He says time is of the essence.

But House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, said there are a few mistakes within them that need to be addressed first.

“We know that there are some technical corrections that need to be made,” Hickman said. “Do you want those standards to move forward with those corrections still being needed, or do you want the State Department of Education to fix them?”

Hickman’s resolution passed, and requires more experts to review the standards.

In the Senate version - legislators want more detail, and examples of learning materials, which the State Department of Education says they’ve already been working on.

Under the Senate bill, lawmakers will no longer be involved in approving academic standards. State Sen, Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, says he and his colleagues aren't qualified for the job.

“The legislature, in my opinion, shouldn't be in the business of micromanaging that because we’re not the education professionals that work in those industries on a daily basis,” Jolley said.

In the future, approving academic standards will be up to the State Board of Education.

Both the House and Senate bills now go to the opposite chamber for consideration. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says she supports the new standards.

In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.
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