Lt. Gov.: Let’s scrap and replace Common Core in Mississippi

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PHOTO BY: State of Mississippi SECOND IN COMMAND: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves advocates the replacement of the state’s Common Core curriculum.

PHOTO BY: State of Mis­sis­sip­pi
SECOND IN COMMAND: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves advo­cates the replace­ment of the state’s Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum.

Com­mon Core in Mis­sis­sip­pi might be on the chop­ping block if Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has his way.

Reeves told Mis­sis­sip­pi Watch­dog in a phone inter­view Mon­day he sup­ports scrap­ping Com­mon Core and replac­ing it with anoth­er cur­ricu­lum.

The Repub­li­can said he wants to form a task force of par­ents, teach­ers and busi­ness lead­ers to inves­ti­gate a new cur­ricu­lum to replace Com­mon Core, which has been under fire in the state by the Mis­sis­sip­pi Sen­ate Con­ser­v­a­tive Coali­tion and oth­ers.

Reeves said he’s inspired to junk the cur­ricu­lum because of Oklahoma’s expe­ri­ence with Com­mon Core. The state lost its waiv­er from the most oner­ous stan­dards of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act for return­ing to its old cur­ricu­lum, but lat­er appealed and got its waiv­er back.

Okla­homa was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Reeves said. “They (the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment) was going to penal­ize Oklahoma’s kids because their lead­ers want­ed a bet­ter approach. That final deci­sion by the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion that con­vinced me what start­ed as a state-led ini­tia­tive has been hijacked by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. I just don’t believe we can accept this heavy-hand­ed­ness from Wash­ing­ton.”

The move aligns Reeves, who could face a pri­ma­ry chal­lenge from the right in 2015, with oth­er Repub­li­cans in the region. Mis­sis­sip­pi Gov. Phil Bryant has stat­ed his oppo­si­tion to the cur­ricu­lum and signed an exec­u­tive order in 2013 to ensure the state and not the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment would be in charge of devel­op­ing a new cur­ricu­lum. Louisiana Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal has tak­en his state off the new stan­dards.

Bryant applaud­ed the move in a state­ment and called Com­mon Core a “failed pro­gram.”

Mis­sis­sip­pi adopt­ed the new stan­dards for math and sci­ence in 2010 — one of 46 states par­tic­i­pat­ing — and test­ing of stu­dents was to begin in 2015. The Mis­sis­sip­pi Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion said in a state­ment that junk­ing Com­mon Core would be “chang­ing the play­book in the mid­dle of the game” and could be cost­ly. Last year, the state spent $694,000 imple­ment­ing Com­mon Core.

The Reeves-led Sen­ate defeat­ed an amend­ment added by Con­ser­v­a­tive Coali­tion mem­bers to the edu­ca­tion fund­ing bill to defund the imple­men­ta­tion of Com­mon Core. The mea­sure was defeat­ed by a 39–11 vote.

Reeves was quick to cor­rect any notion he was chang­ing his views on Com­mon Core.

I don’t believe I’ve changed my posi­tion,” Reeves told Mis­sis­sip­pi Watch­dog. “My posi­tion has been for numer­ous years now that I felt like we should mon­i­tor the imple­men­ta­tion (of Com­mon Core), but I don’t think you’ll find me quot­ed any­where say­ing that I sup­port­ed it.

My argu­ment was let’s see what the imple­men­ta­tion looks like and ensure that there was no over­reach by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment with­in that imple­men­ta­tion.”

The move drew praise from Grant Callen, pres­i­dent and founder of Empow­er Mis­sis­sip­pi, a school choice advo­ca­cy group.

I am a firm believ­er in the notion that edu­ca­tion deci­sions must be made local­ly, by those who know a child the best, which is why I’m such a strong advo­cate for edu­ca­tion choice,” Callen told Mis­sis­sip­pi Watch­dog in an e-mail. “Par­ents know their chil­dren best and they ought to be the ones mak­ing deci­sions about what school they attend.

The inevitable result of Com­mon Core, or any nation­al cur­ricu­lum, is that edu­ca­tion deci­sions about edu­ca­tion will be made at the nation­al lev­el instead of the local lev­el or by par­ents. So I applaud the Lt. Gov­er­nor for his deci­sion to work to end Com­mon Core in Mis­sis­sip­pi and am espe­cial­ly encour­aged to hear that he wants to include par­ents on the study com­mit­tee charged with com­ing up with new stan­dards.”

Also, Reeves told the Sten­nis Capi­tol Press Forum on Mon­day he intends to sup­port the Spe­cial Needs Bill, which died in the House near the end of last year’s ses­sion. The bill would cre­ate a vouch­er sys­tem to enable par­ents of chil­dren with spe­cial needs to send them to a pri­vate school with a cer­ti­fied and spe­cif­ic pro­gram unavail­able in pub­lic schools.