Unfortunately, ROPE has a good deal of skepticism regarding the new Oklahoma Educational standards approved by the Board of Education today. Let me be clear here, the new standards were approved by the board just today, so none of us (at ROPE) would have had the opportunity to review them at this point.
It is important to note, however, that while the OSDE press release contained comments in support for the standards from many quarters, none of these were attributed to the experts that were invited by the Standards Steering Committee last February to consult on the standards writing process.
Though we would never be so dull as to suggest the organizations and individuals mentioned in the press release weren’t educational experts, were they standards writing experts? Where were comments from Dr. Larry Gray, Dr. Jane Scheilack, or Dr. Sandra Stotsky in the press release? These were standards writing experts called in to advise the Standard Steering Committee on the standards writing process.
In fact, after the third revision of the standards were released in October of 2015, Oklahoma Watch and ROPE posted a standards review by both Dr’s. Gray and Stotsky, and neither was terribly impressed. Mrs. Hofmeister has informed us that her office has sought comments from Dr. Stotsky and incorporated these in their standards revisions, but how do we know that? Pardon our skepticism here, but where are any public comments regarding the standards? Dr. Stotsky in her original presentation to the Standards Steering Committee suggested that all comments made regarding the standards be made publicly, ostensibly so changes to the documents could be seen by all Oklahomans. Clearly, Gray and Stotsky had specific concerns regarding the standards at that time. Had Oklahoma Watch and ROPE had not publicized their comments, who would have known their concerns? Legislators? The public?
Early on, ROPE complained to the State Department of Education concerning the lack of published public comment and were told that the standards documents were a work in progress and that allowing the public to see the ongoing process of developing the standards could hurt the reputation of the standards writers. Laypersons are not normally able to read and decipher the standards documents themselves. This is why standards experts were called on – to provide ‘expert’ advice – information the public could rely on.
We believe the only way the public can truly be certain that these standards satisfied the full measure of HB3399, passed by the legislature at the overwhelming request of the public, is to have the standards reviewed by the legislature via a public forum where comments from the standards writing experts and others can be heard. We do appreciate all the work of the standards writing committees and will be pleased to see the standards vetted in a public forum.