Oklahoma PTA, an organization that was formerly nonpartisan, is urging a vote to override Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of Senate Bill 2, which removed the requirement to administer end-of-instruction U.S. history tests for public schools.
SB2, by Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, and Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City; and Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Tulsa, would have removed the requirement to administer testing over U.S. history.
SB2 passed the Senate by a vote of 31-10 and 65 to 23 in the House. Fallin vetoed the bill on May 3.
“United States History is a vital component of a student’s academic coursework,” Fallin wrote in her veto message. “It grounds students in our nation’s founding principles and our Constitution, and teaches that American exceptionalism led the world to unite behind the concepts that liberty and freedom are fundamental human rights. Our students need to be grounded in our history and equipped to meet our nation’s future challenges.”
Just 62 percent of Oklahoma students tested proficient or better on the state history test in 2016.
“If U.S. History is not measured through a test, its importance in school will be lessened,” Fallin wrote.
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, opposed SB 2. Bergstrom taught for nearly 20 years in public schools, including 17 at Bluejacket Public Schools. American History and U.S. Government were among the subjects he taught.
According to the PTA press release, “Time and time again, parents, teachers and administrators have advocated for an end to the overwhelming use of standardized tests that currently stifle teaching and do more to educate our children on how to be good test-takers than allowing them to learn critical thinking skills.”
During the 2016 legislative session, all other high school end-of-instruction tests were eliminated.