August 22, 2013 (Pascagoula, MS)–The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition today released a copy of a Letter to the Editor sent to Daily Journal Editor Lloyd Gray by MSCC Policy Chairman Senator Michael Watson. In the letter, Watson strongly condemns the Daily Journal’s biased reporting on Common Core, specifically questioning a recent report by Daily Journal writer Chris Kieffer.

Kieffer writes in the article covering an Oxford meeting by MDE that “Much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace of” Common Core. In the article, Kieffer gives no other information brought up from those questioning Common Core, nor does he give an account of an opposing view.

Watson writes to the Daily Journal that the lack of honest information is “lazy reporting” and “hampers the ability of your readers to make informed decisions with facts.”

The letter as submitted follows:

For many years, the Daily Journal has been supportive of most everything the Mississippi Department of Education has done, or wanted to do, including trying to kill recently passed charter school legislation. The newspaper has likewise supported the recent push for the unproven, untested change in standards to the new Common Core.

While one would expect bias and allegiance to the Education Department from the Daily Journal based on past performance, it is disappointing that editors would allow or encourage reporters to propagate outright fabrications through lazy reporting.

In a recent article (Oxford Meeting Addresses Core Concerns–August 21,2013), Daily Journal writer Chris Kieffer covers the Mississippi Department of Education’s public relations tour in support of Common Core and the stop in Oxford. However, his “report” does little more than assist education bureaucrats ongoing attempts to smear anyone who dare question their authority.

Kieffer not only excludes the numerous concerns and unanswered questions of parents, teachers and legislators in his “report”, he inaccurately characterizes those who want answers as nothing more than President Obama “haters”.

To quote Kieffer: “the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has made statements questioning the Common Core and other states have considered discarding them. Much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace of them.”

That is Kieffer’s entire treatment of those of us who have concerns. His lack of inclusion of those concerns is lazy, dishonest, biased and it is shameful.

The truth is there are many legitimate unanswered questions about Common Core, how it was adopted and why, what level of authority and control the Dept. of Education is handing over to the federal government, and whether the Common Core standards are really about higher expectations and will give Mississippi students the best chance at future success. The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has stepped up to demand answers. We hope all parents and teachers who have concerns will join us in that effort. Our children deserve no less.

It is expected that bureaucrats at the Department of Education would try to turn disagreement into something as trivial as a political dislike of the President. But, for the Daily Journal to knowingly mislead its readers with this type of “reporting” is extremely deceptive. It hampers the ability of your readers to make informed decisions with facts. It reduces the Daily Journal to a tool of the Department of Education to be used to ‘shape’ public opinion through exclusion of useful information that tells the whole story.

If the Daily Journal wishes to enter into a collaborative effort to act as the Mississippi Department of Education’s public relations arm then that is a decision for the owners and editors. But, you should at least have the boldness and courage to let that fact be known before publishing articles that purports to be honest and unbiased news.

In the meantime, if you wish to fully and accurately report the issues surrounding Common Core in Mississippi, you will find many of the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition’s questions here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/161607212/MSCC-Common-Core-Letter-to-MDE-Aug-19-2013

Maybe the Daily Journal reporters will even consider asking a few themselves, next time.

Senator Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula)
Policy Chairman-Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition