A last-minute victory in Oklahoma

When the Oklahoma legislature adjourned on May 23, 2014, the attempt to derail Oklahoma's new state science standards was stymied.

As NCSE previously reported, 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.

But 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 to reject the state department of education's rules implementing the new standards.

On May 21, 2014, HJR 1099 as amended passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 55-31 vote. The bill proceeded to the Senate Rules Committee, which showed no signs of wanting to consider it. Undeterred, opponents of the standards took their fight to the Senate floor, where, on May 23, 2014, Senator Anthony Sykes (R-District 24) moved to amend the similar House Joint Resolution 1097 to include disapproval of the rules implementing the new standards, saying, "global warming is the main concern." The amendment was accepted on a 25-14 vote, and the amended bill was then passed on a 32-9 vote.

HJR 1097, as amended by the Senate, then returned to the House, which, however, failed to consider it before the legislature's sine die adjournment.

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