Oklahoma Legislature Loosens Third-Grade Reading Mandate

Oklahoma Legislature Loosens Third-Grade Reading Mandate
May 29, 2014
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OKLAHOMA CITY — It took just about 24 hours for both houses of the state Legislature to override Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of a bill to loosen the state’s new third-grade reading test requirement.

Fallin vetoed House Bill 2625 on Tuesday afternoon and was overriden late Wednesday afternoon, 79-17 in the House of Representatives. The Senate voted 45-2 to override.

The override rolls back state literacy standards, including the Reading Sufficiency Act, that have been implemented during the past two decades in efforts to reverse “social promotion.”

In the words of state Rep. Katie Henke (R-Tulsa), HB 2625 “empowers parents and educators to make individualized decisions for Oklahoma students.”

Fallin opposed HB 2625 because, she said, testing data found 16 percent of Oklahoma third-graders could not read at grade level this past school year. Nearly one-third of the students failed the reading test in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the two largest public school districts.

“These children will now be asked to do more difficult coursework, and to do so with very limited reading skills,” Fallin said in a statement. “My concern continues to be that we are setting these children up for failure. We are asking them to succeed when we have not given them the skills they need to do so.”

Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) supported override. Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) backed Fallin and opposed override, as did former Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) and 15 other GOP representatives.

Patrick McGuigan (pmcguigan@watchdog.org) is a reporter for Oklahoma Watchdog. Article reprinted with permission. Image by mosaic36.