Joe Dorman, Democratic nominee for Governor, announced his plan to create rigorous Oklahoma-based, age appropriate academic standards as the third part of his "Classrooms First" proposal for the state's education system.
"Over the past fours years, Mary Fallin has forced one size fits all standards on our state, with no input from those in Oklahoma classrooms. This has been disastrous for Oklahoma's education system," said Dorman.
Dorman unveiled phases one and two of his "Classrooms First" plan last month. The first phase proposed increasing per pupil spending above current state levels using a dedicated revenue stream from the franchise tax while protecting against arbitrary cuts. The second phase replaces the use of standardized testing with the ACT and increases remediation and tutoring for students struggling at all levels.
"For the third phase of my Classrooms First plan, I am proposing a system that will involve participation by parents, educators, students and administrators," said Dorman. "Together, we will develop rigorous, but developmentally appropriate and workable standards that reflect Oklahoma values."
Dorman said he will create a Blue Ribbon Commission to craft these new standards. The Commission will consist of teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, school board members and Oklahoma college education professors. These Oklahomans will represent the different schools, communities and regions throughout the state. This includes urban, suburban and rural educators, elementary through high school teachers, and both gifted and special needs educators.
"These people are involved directly in education and have an in depth understanding of the needs, abilities and challenges facing our students today," said Dorman. "No one else -- certainly those outside of Oklahoma who have been used by Fallin and Barresi -- will better craft quality standards for our children."
Dorman added that the standards developed by the Commission will ensure a challenging curriculum necessary for gifted students and provide accommodations and modifications for special needs students. The Commission will fund, develop and provide remediation programs for those who struggle to meet the standards and who cannot perform at grade level.
"To ensure accountability, once the Commission writes the standards, town halls and public forums will be held around the state, allowing Oklahomans to voice their opinions and concerns," said Dorman. "The Commission will then refine the standards based on this feedback."
Along with the Commission, Dorman said he will establish a Superintendents Advisory Board to develop the best ways to implement these policies in individual school districts while maintaining local control.
"Besides parents and educators, we cannot forget who these standards will impact the most -- students," said Dorman. "That is why the Governor will host an annual Student Forum to discuss how to improve their education, what can be done to make them more college and job ready when they graduate, and how Oklahoma's academic standards can be improved to better prepare them for the ACT. Students will have a direct seat at the table to help set the standards they need to succeed."
Dorman said the Forum would consist of high school sophomores and juniors from across the state. The Blue Ribbon Commission, taking into account the input of students and parents, will continue to meet annually to assess the standards and make any changes as needed.
"Education reform in Oklahoma must make a difference in student achievement, make us competitive with other states, be funded and implemented appropriately, and researched and discussed before implementation. Together, the three phases of my Classrooms First plan do that, and bring the modification to our education system Oklahoma so desperately needs," said Dorman. "We don't have to rely on unfunded mandates and one size fits all standardized tests. There is a better way. We can properly invest in education. We don't have to rely on high stakes testing. We can create standards that will actually help our education system. We must and will move on from the failed "Fal-esi' policies of these past four years. Our education system deserves better. Oklahomans deserve better."
Main Aspects Of "Classrooms First" Proposal on New Standards
-A Blue Ribbon Commission consisting of teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, school board members and Oklahoma education college professors will work to set new education standards. The Commission will represent Oklahoma's different schools, regions and communities. Gifted students, special needs students, and students requiring remediation will receive assistance.
-Once the standards are written, the Blue Ribbon Commission will hold town halls and forums across the state to hear input from citizens on the standards. The input will be used to refine and finalize the new standards.
-The Blue Ribbon Commission will continue to meet annually to assess the standards and make any changes as needed.
-A Superintendents Advisory Board will implement the new educational policy and develop the best ways to implement policy in individual school districts while maintaining local control.
-The Governor will host an annual student forum consisting of high school sophomores and juniors from across the state to discuss how to improve education, how to make them more college and job ready and how to improve standards to make them more ACT ready.