Thursday, January 23, 2014

291 Education Bills: Yes, Hmmm, and Eeek. The Good, The Bad, and the UGLY!

291 education bills have been filed for the 2014 Oklahoma Legislative Session. Just let that number sink in. 291 bills written by people who want to leave their mark on Oklahoma education. I’d be intrigued to know how many educators helped craft these bills.

I’ve been through the thumbnail descriptions of the House bills, and several have caught my eye as ones to watch. I have NOT gone to the Oklahoma House site and read the actual bills. This made my head hurt enough.

I saved the link to all the bills, but I know my learning style and knew I needed a hard copy to mark up. So I copied and pasted into a Word document…a 92-page Word document!! Got it down to 50-some by playing with fonts and margins.

There is ample opportunity for mistakes in this post: I could have typed numbers and names wrong. Please correct any mistakes for me! I’m not offended by this kind of help.

I hope I’ve interpreted the language correctly; these sentences are the most convoluted, difficult ones to read. I’m counting on my friends to correct me, to add to the conversation. This is ME, sitting in my comfy chair, with a cat occasionally on my lap, trying to plow through the language.

In chronological order, bills that make me go, ‘hmmm’ or ‘eek’ or ‘yes!’

2313 – introduced by Brown will raise salaries of teachers to regional levels – yes!

2316 and 2317 – Introduced by Cleveland and Boggs and Walker will allow education about celebrations of winter holidays – hmmm

2351 – Introduced by Kern, “Common Sense Zero Tolerance” – this is my “Pastry Emergency!” – eek

2422 – Introduced by Bennett – “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” – big hmmmm

2427 – Introduced by Condit – re-establishes API as measures of performance for schools – hmmmm

2497 – Introduced by Casey – requires the State Board to complete a study of kids who were retained by Third Grade Flunk Law (RSA) – qualified ‘yes’

2504 – Also introduced by Casey – removed the State Board’s ability to develop and administer criteria-referenced tests in any subject not required by federal law. – Hmmm and yes. This is one to look into more deeply.

2545 – Introduced by Cannaday, an educator and friend of schools! Removed student test scores as part of teacher evaluations under TLE. Requires that the total evaluation be qualitative! YES and YES!

2546 – Also by Cannaday – Delays establishment of READ initiative, and the retention of third graders until State Board disaggregates student data and submits a report of all the reading instruction and practices educators used for these kids. Can I hear another YES??

2582 – Introduced by Thomsen – requires all charter schools to comply with TLE as it is now written. Yes!

2636 – Introduced by Proctor – Increases salaries for career teachers in poverty schools – YES!

2645 – Introduced by Kouplen – requires health education for all middle schools. – hmmm, moving to eek.

2694 – Introduced by Johnson – protects career teachers in time of RIF – yes

2730 – Introduced by Cleveland – this has something to do with OSSAA, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out….hmmmm, for sure

2734 – Introduced by McDaniel – gutting the requirements that students MUST pass third grade reading tests and EOIs in order to be promoted, or to graduate. YES, YES, and YES!

2771 – Introduced by Nollan – delays and modifies A-F accountability for a minimum of three years. 
Requires the Board readopt API in the meantime. Requires Board to hold public meetings…and we know how well they work out! YES!

2723 – Also introduced by Nollan – Requires schools to adopt an appeals process for RSA. Yes

2786 – Also by Nollan – ‘removes the powers of the state Board…to adopt revisions to curriculum adopted by the State Board of ELA and Math…as is necessary to align with Common Core Standards. The bill removes revised curriculum will align with CCSS” There’s a verb missing here, and I’m not sure of the intent. Hmmmmm

2885 – Introduced by Coody – establishes a paid internship…that sounds interesting, but the rest of the bill confuses me. Hmmm

2922 – Also by Coody – Establishes a June 1 deadline for testing results to be available to schools in making decisions about retaining third graders or flunking high school graduates. Yes.

2968 – Also by Coody – Requires four units of math to graduate. But no restrictions on the beginning course. Confusing for kids who’ve taken HS math at the middle schools. Eek. I don’t like 4X4!

2969 – Also Coody – requires dyslexia screening for any child struggling in reading. Requires interventions, including ‘specialized multisensory structured reading therapist.’ Hmmm

2971 – Also Coody – allows schools to rehire retired educators. Hmmm

2984 – NOT by Coody, but by McPeak – “Freedom to Succeed Act.” HS seniors would graduate when they fulfilled the requirements for graduation, even if they didn’t pass the required EOIs. YES!

3167 – Introduced by Blackwell – Removes all references to CCSS and language implementing such. Establishes Local Standards Pilot Programs. Hmmm

3170 – Also Blackwell – Exempts HS students from EOIs after they’ve passed the required ones. Yes! Even better than the bill last year.

3240 – Introduced by Kern – replaces all references of PASS with state curriculum standards. Also included language about ELL kids who don’t pass RSA…confusing to me. Hmmm

3398 – Introduced by Nelson, on behalf of ALEC. Just looking at the thumbnail of this bill makes you know it’s different. It sets off the same bells for me that papers that were obviously plagiarized—too long, too detailed, and slightly off topic. Others have written eloquently about this ‘Oklahoma Education Savings Account Act’ and I’ll refer you to them. Here and here and here. EEEEKKKKKK!

3399 – Also by Nelson – Seems to declare war on federal education groups…and says we won’t play. Haven’t checked ALEC for this one. One good thing…it mentions data collection. I’m horrified by the data that others (not the feds, but Bill Gates!!) will be collecting. Hmmmm

3401 – Introduced by Kern – another curious one. No school employee will refer students to counseling unless parents have been notified. There’s a story here. Hmmm

3416 – Introduced by Shelton – adds dating violence to the list of bullying behaviors. Hmmm – that doesn’t seem to be a school issue.

3419 – Introduced by Shelton – Offers financial literacy to parents. Hmmm

3435 – Also Shelton – Financial literacy in universities. I see a trend. Did he write the bill that requires us to teach a financial literacy class in high schools? Hmmm

3479 – Introduced by Nelson – This one sets off alarm bells! Allows any parent of an IEP student or the student herself to audio record any classroom. Teachers give up ‘reasonable expectation of privacy,’ but the parent or student cannot disclose contents without employee’s permission. This one deserves a closer reading. Hmmm…and perhaps eeek!

Along with these bills are many that ‘modify’ the language of an existing law…I’ll collect them later.


  1. Wow, Claudia! You are using your retirement time very productively! Thanks for all this research!

    1. Remember, this is JUST my 'reading' of the bills...and I very well could be wrong. They certainly don't use easy-to-comprehend language!

  2. Wow, thanks for digesting all that for the rest of us. What do you think is wrong with 2645, health education for middle schoolers. I didn't read anything in the bill's language that alarmed me, except maybe the glaring absence of sex education.

    1. Aysha, what concerns me the most about that is it's another unfunded mandate...taking instruction time from schools. I felt the same way about the financial literacy requirement for high schools. Legislators take what could be a good idea, and make it a demand, unaware of the ramifications of their demands. 4X4 math will do the same at the high school level. We continue to whittle away at the few choices kids have. Makes me sad.

  3. Thank you for the synopsis and comments. I haven't had the time to read them all, either. I am appalled by the ALEC bills, and grateful for Ed Cannaday!

  4. Thank you for taking YOUR time to break this down for us. Kudos

    1. Thanks for reading...What we're now discovering is that there are 200 MORE bills with education focus that were NOT on this list. Things are changing soo quickly it's hard to keep up...I think that's part of the intent. Think of it...over 500 education bills. Talk about micromanaging.