OKLAHOMA CITY – Passionate critics of the Common Core curriculum in Oklahoma organized a rally and a day of grass roots lobbying at the state Capitol, coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day.
Monday (March 17), hundreds swarmed the halls to lobby representatives and senators, asking them to finish action on a bill sponsored by Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, R-Nacoma. The practical effect of the law, House Bill 3399, would be to repeal the Common Core curriculum in the Sooner State.
Monday’s event was not the biggest rally in the history of the state Capitol, but it got attention. The day focused on the Capitol and legislators was organized over the past week as foes of Common Core have gained momentum for their cause. Sponsors decided to tie their efforts to the feast day of the Enlightener of Ireland.
Consequently, the fourth floor rotunda was often a sea of Kelly green for the day’s events. The activists visited legislative offices there, as well as on the third and fifth floor.
Activists carried bags of shamrock cookies to share with elected officials. During the noon hour, approximately 250 personal notes opposing the Common Core and supporting H.B. 3399 were left, one by one, in a basket for Gov. Mary Fallin outside her second floor office.
The contingent then gathered for a moment of prayer in the hallway outside Fallin’s quarters.
Before and after the focus on Fallin, members of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) and other groups concentrated on members of the state Senate and House.
In early afternoon, activists clad in Kelly green sat in the House gallery, as a gesture of thanks to the House, which gave 78-12 consent to Hickman’s measure last Thursday. House Majority Leader Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, pointed to the group in the gallery and praised their commitment to education. As members of the House applauded them, the activists reciprocated with a standing ovation.
Later, the group also visited the Senate gallery. They asked Senators to pass the final House version of Hickman’s bill. Senate leaders pulled a version of the bill that was under consideration in the upper chamber last week. They have promised to hear Common Core critics as they examine H.B. 3399.
Joining ROPE in the drive to repeal Common Core in Oklahoma were Republican women’s organizations, the 9-12 group based in Tulsa and individual teachers.
The “pledge” form asked legislators to support H.B. 3999, and promise to remove Common Core from state law. Among other provisions, the pledge encourages adoption of state-based standards and testing without federal or private control, a two-year delay in development and implementation of new standards and assessments which are age-appropriate for students, state Education board control of the process without federal interference, a ban (deemed a “firewall”) on federal or private funding of assessments, and local control over curriculum and supplementary tests.