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Mary Fallin’s Common Core Executive Order – Is Oklahoma Using Pearson Educators Curriculum?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Common Core in Oklahoma, extensive research and writing has already been done on the subject. I specifically mentioned the work of two blogs that I read and follow. Those authors have graciously consented to allow me to use some of their work on Political Realities. The following is a guest post from Maggie’s Notebook, detailing some of the issues many of us have with Common Core and how Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin seems to be tied so closely to its implementation. I should have another post from Independent Sentinel tomorrow. It is important that this information be brought to light, before the standards are fully implemented, rather than later.

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Common Core Is Not OKI have written about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from about every angle except Oklahoma specifically, and I am puzzled about Governor Mary Fallin’s support of CCSS, based on what I believe to be fact. I can see only one reason for her support and that is the long, long-time connection to the National Governor’s Association (NGA) formed in the early 1900s to solely develop what we call Common Core today. It has been a long time coming, and it’s here, and coincidentally, Oklahoma’s first female Governor, Mary Fallin, served as Chairwoman at the 2014 NGA conference in Washington, D.C. Does it all boil down to politics? It must. This epic design for our children’s education and their futures, and the future of our country, deserves to have three basic questions answered directly and fully. The other oddities of Common Core can wait for another time.

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In December 2013 Governor Fallin signed an Executive Order to “ensure” Oklahomans that Washington will have no involvement in the design of tests, curriculum, or assessments.

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“I want to be really clear: common core is not a federal program,” Fallin said. “It is driven and implemented by those states that choose to participate. It is also not a federal curriculum; in fact, it’s not a curriculum at all. Local educators and school districts will still design the best lesson plans, will choose appropriate textbooks, and will drive classroom learning.” ~ Mary Fallin, 1/15/14 Source: TheOkieBlaze

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All of which leads to:

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If, as Governor Fallin says, “local educators and districts” will design “the best lesson plans” and “choose all “appropriate textbooks:”

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1)Will those textbooks and materials come from Pearson Education, or any publisher that Pearson Education has recently purchased or will purchase in the future? Or put another way, will Oklahoma ever cut a check to Pearson or a Pearson entity?

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If the answer to No. 1 above is ‘yes,’ then Oklahoma has no control and studies will be aligned with, and follow Common Core.

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2) Do Oklahoma’s local educators and districts, have the freedom to use textbooks that are not Common Core aligned, and from outside the Pearson Educator’s networks?

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If the answer to No. 2 above is ‘yes,’ your Executive Order cannot “ensure” Oklahoma children will be taught what they need to know to perform well on Pearson tests/assessments?

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3) Will Oklahoma use Common-Core-mandated Microsoft products in the technology requirements for the assessments/testing/evaluations for both students and teachers?

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If the answer to No. 3 above is ‘yes,’ then all assessments will be predesigned to align with Common Core, and Oklahoma will not have a smidgen of control.

Just curious about: What will Pearson’s tests cost the state? Exactly what has been budgeted for Pearson tests?

Governor Fallin should answer each of the three questions above precisely with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. If you are a parent, grandparent or citizen, ask away, and if you get an answer, let me know.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education, State Superintendent Janet Barressi‘s webpage says the following: (…the Oklahoma Academic Standards. This includes the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), adopted in 2010…):

What Oklahoma Academic Standards Do Not:

○ Do Not dictate how teachers should teach

○ Do Not mandate a specific curriculum

○ Do Not limit advanced work beyond the standards

○ Do Not require the purchase or development of entirely new instructional materials

○ Do Not prescribe all that can or should be taught

○ Do Not limit efforts to prepare students for College, Career, and Citizenship readiness

○ Do Not prescribe interventions for students below grade‐level

You can read what Oklahoma Academic Standards WILL DO here, and note that the list includes Common Core State Standards. The ‘DO’ list includes ‘focusing,’ ‘thinking conceptually’ and ‘understanding and solving real world problems,’ so the question remains, will Pearson be involved in any way?

Gretchen Logue at Missouri Education Watchdog is deeply immersed in Common Core and is a sought-after speaker on the subject. I asked her how much control a state really has over the Common Core curriculum.

Paraphrasing her answer: Technically the state and districts have control, but here is the catch, it must be CCSS aligned and it will have to match the assessments that are written by Pearson Education, not the state or the districts. These assessments haven’t been written yet.

The choice of curriculum will be signifcantly narrowed since the teacher evaluations are based on assessment results and teachers will want to receive positive evals — they will want to have the curriculum that best matches the assessments. If the student doesn’t do well, or the class doesn’t do well, that teacher is graded down regardless of what kind of class-make-up he or she has that year.

One example of the problem (stated by a Common Core supporter):

New York State rolled out the new standards and rewrote state tests to align them with Common Core at the same time as the new Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), which in part rely on student performance on the new standardized tests, were implemented. Source:

More from the same supporting site on “teacher evaluations:”

“Last year was the first year that districts were required to come up with a numerical rating for teachers,” said VanDeWeert. …These observations are now 60 percent of the APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review]. The difference is that now there’s a score associated with these evaluations.”

The other 40 percent of teacher evaluations comes from two separate measures of student learning. “That’s the piece of APPR that raises the most angst and concern among teachers and administrators,” VanDeWeert said, “because it’s really difficult to show correlation. Good teaching is critical to student learning, but to make the leap that a student’s performance on one measure or one test is directly related to teacher performance is a big leap to make. There are so many extenuating circumstances.

I am all for teacher accountability in every realm, including warning school principals and parents that a child is on the wrong track long before the time comes for standardized tests that will have bearing on whether or not a student will progress to the next grade — and we know many students do progress routinely, yet perform several grades below where they should be. Let’s make teachers accountable for helping to kick the child’s can on down the road, and let’s praise those teachers who refuse to do so. That’s change you can believe in.

One more quote from Ms. Logue from an August 2013 interview, which you can read in full here, and then visit her website for today’s post on the language used to throw “render parent’s wishes meaningless,” (at least in Missouri).

…the standards assessments are copyrighted by the two private organizations, so a school district cannot change the standards, nor can they change the assessments, so you have to teach to the assessments…to the tests and using the specific curriculum that aligned to Common Core Standards.

To close, I’m going back to Governor Fallin’s Executive Order (2013-40) and quotes from Oklahoman Jenni White on that specific Executive Order (Jenni founded Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) in 2009): Snippets only, read it all here (all emphasis is mine).

● She [Gov. Fallin] also claims here that Oklahomans had a say in the development of the Standards. Two members of the CCSS Committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky[vii] and Dr. James Milgram[viii] have both testified that the standards Committee was nothing but a rubber stamp for Student Achievement Partners[ix] (the private organization with whom NGA contracted to create the standards, written by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba – all of whom but Zimba are non-educators). If national educational experts had no input, how did Oklahomans?

● The Governor uses paragraph four to acknowledge that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are listed by name in Title 70 – in other words, it is LAW that Oklahoma students be educated with Common Core State Standards.

● She also states the standards were developed through the National Governor’s Association[x] (NGA – for which she is currently Chair) and the Council of Chief State School Officers[xi] (CCSSO).

She does not mention these organizations are PRIVATE, DUES-PAID organizations in no way responsible to individual citizens – in essence, she admits the standards were created outside the bounds of representative government. She also does not acknowledge our legislature passed Common Core into law (SB2033[xii]) before the Standards were available to read. Read much more here.

David Coleman is mentioned above. He is considered the architect of Common Core English Standards. Read about Coleman’s connection to Barack Obama and Weather Undergrounder Bill Ayers here, and feel the chill to the bones when you realize that this man will be educating your children.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

  • SirPublius

    If those who support Common Core, in order to counter those individuals who would prefer that control of education stay local, if they are claiming that the under Common Core local districts maintain control over the curriculum and such….uhh….what’s the point of Common Core?? If that were actually the case, where local districts maintain control, Common Core wouldn’t be so….”common” now would it? What would be the point of Common Core? Sounds like districts would be “free” to teach what they want, as long as its what Common Core wants! Just more politicking and semantics if you ask me. Sounds like supporters of Common Core saying what they have to to get it passed. And it would also be my bet that even if local districts sort of maintained control of how they taught now, the noose would slowly tighten over time. I don’t think that’s conspiracy talk, I think that’s just common sense on how bureaucracies normally work; they become more involved and powerful over time, they find new ways constantly to justify their existence, and they quite often sloooowly change their initial directives.

    • Michael

      California has changed and added to the Common Core standards. We’ve simply being told that we’re doing the CCSS plus the added concepts.

      • SirPublius

        My point is IF states can just change the Common Core standards or IF local districts can maintain relative control over their curriculum, then what is the point of “Common” Core?? Sounds to me like whoever is advocating for Common Core is FIRST trying to make the standards that are supposed to be initially met intentionally liberal just to get people doing it, and my guess is that after that happens, the rules will slowly become more stringent over time. I have nothing at all that can prove that. It’s just my opinion. And the reason for that opinion is again, if there were really so much local control, I see little point in implementing a common core type program, unless it were REALLY common/broad standards, and again, that would make the program pretty much pointless. It’s not local control AND a uniform core. One or the other will have the upper hand at the expense of the other. Can’t have both. But we are being told otherwise. My sniffer is sniffing something fishy here.

    • You are not wrong. That is how bureaucracy normally works. Slowly, surely, a little at a time, it gets further entrenched and more powerful. That’s one reason the federal government needs to be reined in. Common Core is just another example of that.

  • Pingback: Gov Mary Fallin’s Common Core Exe Order: Is Oklahoma Using Pearson Educators Anywhere In The State? | Maggie's Notebook()

  • We ( have also done extensive research on Common Core, Coleman and related issues. See A Crucible Moment for “the rest of the story.” If you haven’t seen the Coleman video it is also available on our website in So Much for “State Led” Standards. We, too, are trying to wake people up.