Oklahoma lawmakers and parents are serving as advisors of sorts in the ongoing  fight against the Common Core academic standards in Louisiana, Arizona and Colorado.

Five Louisiana lawmakers visited Oklahoma City Friday, while lawmakers from Arizona and Colorado participated in a phone conference, to discuss how to use an Oklahoma bill repealing the standards as model legislation in their states.

State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Ryan Brecheen, R-Coalgate, discussed how they wrote the bill and how they built public support for repeal.

Indiana, South Carolina and Missouri also passed legislation repealing Common Core this year, but Brecheen said Oklahoma’s is the strongest.

“Ours was the first real repeal of Common Core,” Brecheen said after meeting with the other lawmakers. “This shows we are doing what we should be, which is to be leading.”

The Louisiana delegation included Reps. Brett Geymann, Lance Harris, Cameron Henry, Bob Hensgens, Rogers Pope and Kenneth Havard.

Gordan Klingenschmitt, a candidate for Colorado’s House of Representatives, in addition to a current Colorado state senator also participated via phone. An assistant for Brecheen did not immediately know who the senator was, or who participated on the call from Arizona.

Opponents, including Brecheen, criticize Common Core State Standards as a federal intrusion into state education because the U.S. Department of Education requires the adoption of tougher academic standards in order to receive some federal grants.

Common Core supporters say the standards are needed to ensure students are better prepared for college or the workplace. They also point out the federal government did not create the standards, which were drafted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Friday’s discussions also included meetings with grass-roots parents groups from Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Kathryn Goppelt, a parent activist from Louisiana, said the goal is to learn what parents in Oklahoma did to garner public support against the standards.

Louisiana failed to pass legislation repealing the standards this year, and Gov. Bobby Jindal has struggled to remove Common Core on his own.

Jindal was dealt a setback earlier this week when a Louisiana judge ruled the governor couldn’t suspend a contract used to purchase testing material aligned with the benchmarks.

“We want to learn from (Oklahoma’s) victories and failures,” Goppelt said. “We want to be better organized and to better educate our residents about Common Core.”

Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, a group that advocated against the standards last year, said dropping them pushed Oklahoma onto the national stage.

Gov. Mary Fallin, originally a strong supporter of Common Core, is the president of the National Governors Association, which helped draft the standards. Falling signed the bill repealing Common Core standards in June amid mounting pressure to drop them.

Nate Robson can be reached at nrobson@oklahomawatch.org 

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