Oklahoma science standards adopted

On June 19, 2014, Oklahoma's governor Mary Fallin approved the state's adoption of a new set of science standards, according to US News & World Report (June 20, 2014), despite the objections of state legislators to their inclusion of climate science.

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. 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." As amended, HJR 1099 passed the Senate on a 32-9 vote. But the House failed to consider it before the legislature adjourned.

Among the organizations supporting the adoption of the new Oklahoma science standards were the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association and the grassroots Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education.