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Trouble over Oklahoma science standards

A committee in the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to reject a new set of science standards, primarily over concerns about its treatment of climate change.

The state board of education unanimously voted to adopt the new standards on March 25, 2014. The new Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science are the product of more than a year of work by a committee of more than sixty members, the state department of education's director of science education Tiffany Neill told the Oklahoman (March 26, 2014). The standards were widely regarded as a vast improvement on their predecessors, which received (PDF) a grade of F in the Fordham Institute's 2012 study of state science standards.

When House Joint Resolution 1099 — a routine resolution approving or disapproving proposed permanent rules of Oklahoma state agencies — went to the House Administrative Rules and Government Insight Committee, however, the new standards were attacked. The attacks focused on the use of the Next Generation Science Standards as a resource and on the presentation of climate science in early grade levels, according to a May 13, 2014, post on the blog of the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association.

The committee amended HJR 1099 (PDF) to reject the state department of education's rules implementing the new standards. In order for the resolution to derail the new set of science standards, it would still presumably have to be passed by the House and the Senate. The grassroots pro-science-education organization Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education is calling on concerned Oklahomans to express their opposition to HJR 1099 to the Speaker of the House, the Senate President pro tem, and the governor's office.

The audio of the committee's May 12, 2014, hearing on HJR 1099 is available on-line; the science standards are discussed from about 9:00 to about 52:00.