If you are an Oklahoma legislator, please watch the following 6 minute video and thoughtfully consider this message about Common Core State Standards. There is a great deal of public anger in Oklahoma today regarding education and education policy, and it is important to both understand and constructively respond to these emotions. As an elected representative, I encourage you to become better informed about why we need legislative change focused on rejecting HIGH STAKES TESTING for students in our state, rather than rejecting Common Core standards.

If you are an Oklahoma voter, please contact your elected state legislators and encourage them to watch this video. Our state legislators are poised to vote to repeal Common Core State Standards. If this vote passes, the Oklahoma State Department of Education could unnecessarily spend thousands or even millions of dollars creating committees to write “Oklahoma academic standards” which would replace Common Core. This would be wasteful and unnecessary. We don’t have a penny to waste in our 2014 Oklahoma education budget, and the last thing we need to do is take our limited tax dollars and spend them on re-writing academic standards.

The problem with Common Core isn’t the standards they include, it’s the regime of HIGH STAKES TESTING which they continue to promote. High stakes tests aren’t anything new, however. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001 our public schools in Oklahoma and elsewhere in the United States have become overly-focused on high stakes tests. As I attempt to explain this video, high stakes tests do NOT improve learning for students in the classroom. They have the opposite effect, actually, and only benefit two groups: The testing companies which are the primary underwriters and supporters of the Common Core movement, and the politicians who (sadly) use these test scores as proof they are taking steps to improve education in our state. Instead of improving learning, however, high stakes tests have forced teachers to stop teaching many other important subjects in schools (like science, social studies, music, art, and more) and instead myopically focus on just math and reading. This “narrowing of the curriculum” is not limited to just a few schools: It’s sadly a widespread phenomenon. We have GOOD REASONS to be upset about many things involving public education in Oklahoma, and this is NOT just limited to historically low levels of funding. Voters are and SHOULD BE upset about our 10+ year destructive focus in public education on high stakes testing as a means to improve learning. This strategy doesn’t work and NEEDS to change.

In Oklahoma, we should not reject Common Core Standards. For a variety of reasons, we need new academic standards. The focus on higher order thinking skills, problem solving, writing across the curriculum, and digital literacy included in the Common Core is both sensible and needed. What we do NOT need, and should vote to change now, is a destructive focus on high stakes testing which has poisoned learning in all our public schools in Oklahoma.

I will post a letter later this week which I’m going to send to my state legislators about this issue, but this afternoon I recorded this 6 minute video to provide a personal and readily shareable version of this message. Please forward this to your Oklahoma legislators and to other Oklahoma voters.

It’s time to speak up and ask our elected representatives to take CONSTRUCTIVE rather than destructive actions in the capitol regarding public education.

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