When Gov. Phil Bryant issued his executive order inveighing against a possible federal takeover of education in Mississippi, he may have been doing supporters of the Common Core standards a favor.
The order doesn’t block the rollout of the standards in the state’s schools. And it could take pressure off fence-sitting lawmakers, blocking progress on legislation that would reverse or stall Mississippi’s implementation of the standards.
The Common Core math and English standards, which Mississippi’s public schools are implementing, are meant to encourage more analytical thinking and make students better at solving problems.
The state’s education leaders, starting with new Superintendent Carey Wright, have been unwavering in their belief that the new standards are higher than what the state had previously. They’re also firm in saying that Mississippi remains in control of its own schools.
Legislative leaders are well aware of the flak that’s out there relating to the standards. For example, Common Core opponents were frequent features of the town hall meetings that House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, held around the state in the fall.
Protesters say Common Core is a cave-in to the federal government, that data collection will violate children’s privacy, and that the curriculum is a threat to Christianity.
The state Senate’s ultra-conservative faction, led by Republican Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, has been actively promoting opposition, appearing at local school board meetings and in other forums. They argue that Common Core standards are not truly rigorous and that they are a “one-size-fits-all national testing experiment” that’s wrong for Mississippi.