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June 5, 2014

Brooks discusses Common Core during Rotary meeting

DUNCAN — Whether Gov. Mary Fallin chooses to repeal Common Core in Oklahoma, the education objectives may end for the state, Sen. Corey Brooks said.

In a visit to the Duncan Rotary Club on Wednesday, Brooks talked about Common Core and the third-grade reading standards. Brooks said both educational items have been combative during the Oklahoma legislative session.

A bill, calling for the repeal of Common Core, is on Fallin’s desk, Brooks said. He said the state’s reaction to the Common Core standards has caused a rift throughout the state. That rift has almost guaranteed the dissolution of Common Core.

“Common Core is basically dead whether she decides to repeal it or not,” he said. “I don’t have an education background, and I couldn’t tell you what’s appropriate for a second grader.”

Of the hundreds of people Brooks has visited about Common Core during the recent legislative session, he said only two of them had read through the Common Core standards. He said many of the others were based on what the individuals had heard instead of what they had read.

When it came to the third-grade reading issue, Brooks was more than happy to relinquish control to local school districts, teachers and parents.

In recent weeks, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill to allow the teachers and parents to determine whether a student should be retained in the third grade if he or she doesn’t pass the third-grade reading test. Fallin vetoed the bill. The House and Senate overrode the governor’s veto, allowing the bill to pass.

“There should be some local levels of control,” Brooks said. “The teachers know these students.”

In addition to discussing education, Brooks also discussed the lengthy budgeting process. He said the budget began as $7.1 billion, but quickly dwindled because of various earmarks.

He said the budget process, much like the legislative session, was filled with ups and downs, including some disagreements among the various legislators.

“There were a lot of issues that were contentious,” Brooks said. “When there were perceived failures, those could have been much worse.”

Brooks said there was a 5.5 percent cut across the government. However, 12,000 state employees received a raise.

Other areas receiving funding increases included education, the Department of Human Services and the Medical Examiner’s Office.

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