Oklahoma students could be learning under a new set of education standards beginning next school year. The legislature requested the new standards after they repealed Common Core.
No action by the lawmakers by Thursday means the standards would take effect next school year. However over the last couple days there has been increasing discussion at the capitol from lawmakers about stepping in and stopping that from happening.
Jason Stephenson is an English teacher at Deer Creek High School. He's been teaching 11 years, has a master’s degree in English and is the past president for the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English.
“I have just been in the teaching trenches for years now, honing my craft as an educator and doing my best to help my students be better readers and better writers and that's what the standards are all about,” said Stephenson.
Stephenson is on the committee of teachers, university professors and curriculum experts from across the state that wrote the new Oklahoma English Standards. (A similar committee is writing Math Standards.) They have been meeting since May.
“I feel that the standards are ready,” said Stephenson noting that hundreds of parents, teachers, administrators and education groups have weighed in.
However, a renowned standards specialist, who the state consulted with when beginning to write the standards, had harsh criticism. In a recent memo Dr. Sandra Stotsky called them "empty standards" without any Oklahoma content, and compared them to Common Core.
“You could have had this document written by Mars for Martians. It doesn’t even tell you what country you’re in,” said Stotsky on Monday. “It’s sad for kids. They deserve better.”
In recent days some lawmakers have started to express concern over adopting the standards and are considering delaying their implementation or calling for as many 15 different groups to approve them.
“It was deflating and I really had hoped for a more positive reception, but I know there are a lot of people out there who are being positive. And that’s what I have to focus on right now,” Stephenson said.