JACKSON — Mississippi education officials will conduct their own voluntary review of the Common Core academic standards, even after Gov. Phil Bryant vetoed a bill that would have created an outside panel to examine the standards.
State Superintendent Carey Wright said Monday at a luncheon sponsored by Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps that the Mississippi Department of Education will solicit public comments for 90 days on English and math standards.
A panel of educators will then examine comments and propose possible new standards, deletions or changes to the state Board of Education.
“At the end of the process, we will have a set of standards that are Mississippi-centric, that have had input from across the state,” Wright said.
Wright strongly supports the standards, which seek to provide national benchmarks while helping students learn more analytically and less by memorization. Opponents say they are flawed and are in place only because of inappropriate federal pressure.
The state superintendent warned that a complete scrapping of the standards could cause Mississippi to lose its waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. She said junking the standards would immediately allow some students to move to other schools with transportation at district expense. She also said that could require districts to spend money on outside tutors and some poorly performing schools to be taken over by the state, turned into charter schools, or given to private organizations to run.
“Our students have invested way too much for us to be turning back now,” she said. “Throwing out these standards would place our state in a state of turmoil as it has in other states.”
Oklahoma had its waiver withdrawn in August after its governor signed a bill rolling back Common Core. The waiver was restored in November after the state adopted other standards.
Opponents of Common Core said that concern over federal penalties proves their point that Common Core is a federal intrusion.
“It’s an experiment on our children writ large across the country thanks to the mandates of the federal government,” said Keith Plunkett of the tea-party linked United Conservatives Fund.
Despite her concerns about scrapping the standards, Wright said the standards need to be reviewed periodically.
Late last month, the Republican governor vetoed a bill that would have created a 15-member commission with the power to recommend standard changes to the Board of Education. Bryant said he rejected the bill because it didn’t do enough to end Common Core. On Monday, he welcomed Wright’s announcement.
“I met with Dr. Wright on April 15 and encouraged her to seek public input on Common Core standards as quickly as possible,” Bryant said in a statement.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said he still would have preferred an independent commission, but said he welcomed the chance for public comment.
“I appreciate Dr. Wright for recognizing the need for public review, Reeves said in a statement. “I just wish this public review had happened in 2010.”
State Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, a leading legislative critic of Common Core, echoed Reeves’ position. She said the move is the fruit of legislative pressure on the Board of Education.
“I don’t think they’re going to do anything proactively until the Legislature pushed them into doing it,” Hill said.
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