OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma is losing its independence to decide the best way to spend about $29 million in federal dollars to improve how students perform in its public schools, education officials said Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to the state saying that Oklahoma’s public school standards aren’t sufficiently preparing students for college or careers and will no longer grant a waiver to let the state bypass some provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. That waiver gave the state flexibility on how to spend the money.
Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle said Oklahoma had promised to carry out plans to improve education for all students. But Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated Legislature voted earlier this year to dump the so-called Common Core, saying the national standards were a federal intrusion in state jurisdiction over education. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed the law, which calls for Oklahoma to revert to the state standards in place in 2010.
Delisle told state officials they “can no longer demonstrate that the state’s standards are college-and career-ready standards.” Common Core standards are a national benchmark for what students should learn in such subjects as math and English that have been adopted in more than 40 states.
The decisions will leave Oklahoma with no say in how the $29 million of funding from the federal government is spent.
“The change means schools will have to re-examine their budgets and employment contracts to comply with the No Child Left Behind requirements,” said a statement issued Thursday by Oklahoma’s associations representing school board members, school administrators and suburban school districts.
The revocation of the waiver is immediate — save for a few provisions giving Oklahoma time to make some changes to its programs to comply with federal law the start of the 2015-2016 school year, the federal government said.
Indiana and Kansas were granted one-year waivers under the education law Thursday, allowing them to continue state-developed programs.
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