Duncan will continue to use Common Core methods

Published: Jun. 18, 2014 at 10:13 PM CDT
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DUNCAN, Okla._Nearly two weeks after the state legislature voted to abolish the Common Core curriculum in Oklahoma's public schools, one local superintendent says she's moving forward with those standards, sort of.

Doctor Sherry Labyer of Duncan Public Schools says her district will revert back to the "PASS" curriculum this coming academic year, as ordered by the state. But she says she's not giving up the teaching methods which Common Core is known for, a set of instructions that she feels benefits all students by holding them to a higher standard.

Doctor Labyer says although she doesn't support every facet of the controversial Common Core standard, she says does believe in critical thinking and expanding students' minds. And it's those standards that she is determined to hold all Duncan students to come this fall.

"Common Core to me just gave us the freedom to say this is the right thing to do by students," said Dr. Labyer.

Dr. Labyer says her passion isn't just teaching students, but making them grow, "I've always been a supporter of our students being taught the depth of knowledge that they need. I want them to learn to be resourceful and if all we require is the bare minimums, then we're not being resourceful."

So this fall, Duncan students will learn the same materials as every other district in the state, but in a Common Core type of way.

"We used to ask students under PASS objectives to use rote memory and read a passage and answer simple questions such as what color was the young man's shirt? White. We're going to ask them to analyze 'it's a hot day outside, what is the purpose of wearing light colored clothing?' They have to analyze, they have to think," said Dr. Labyer.

Labyer says the district has poured thousands of dollars into trying to prepare for Common Core's arrival, but now that Governor Fallin and state lawmakers have prevented that from happening, Labyer still says all that training will still be used in Duncan.

"We spent a lot of time and money. The methodologies come along with it because you can't teach a higher standard without incorporating the methodologies that are expected to help students learn there," said Dr. Labyer. "If the law asks us to use PASS objectives and follow PASS objectives and they have, then that's what we'll do. I would never ask our teachers to break the law. But I believe we are responsible for them past 12th grade and when they leave us. So if we equip them now with those skills, they're going to find better jobs, they're going to better fare in college."

Officials from the Oklahoma State Board of Education said the 'PASS' curriculum must be implemented by every district for at least the next two years. However, it is up to the individual district on how they prefer to teach that material.