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Mississippi Republicans ‘Ready to Fight’ Common Core, but what about Congress?

Mississippi State Sen. Angela Hill (R) says Republicans in her state are “ready to fight” to repeal the Common Core standards, but challenges the now Republican-led Congress to acknowledge that the controversial education reform initiative has been an overreach by the federal government from the get-go.

“Our Governor and Lt. Governor are opposed to Common Core and want it repealed and want Mississippi out of PARCC testing,” Hill, a former science teacher, told Breitbart News. “We’re ready to fight this battle, as other states are doing, but should we even have to be taking this on in the states with a GOP-led Congress?”

“We can keep doing this, state by state,” she added, “but, by this time, Republicans in Congress have to see what Common Core is all about.”

This week, Mississippi state House Speaker Phillip Gunn (R) introduced a bill that would repeal the Common Core standards and replace them with K-12 standards of the state’s choosing, reports the Clarion-Ledger.

HB 156 would “delete the requirement that the state Department of Education form a single accountability system by combining the state system with the federal system.” In addition, the state would name its own standards the “Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards.”

A separate measure introduced by Gunn, HB 385, would replace the assessments developed by the interstate, federally funded Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) with the ACT test.

The bill would “require the State Board of Education to contract with a single entity for the development and administration of a comprehensive statewide assessment program for public school students in grades 3-12.”

The assessment program, according to the bill, would be comprised of three components: an annual assessment aligned with the state’s own college and career ready standards; administration of a “nationally recognized college entrance readiness examination” for 11th grade students; and a “job skills assessment system” that would allow students to earn a “career readiness certificate” which would be nationally recognized.

Both bills are headed to the Mississippi House Education Committee.

“The objective is to opt out of PARCC and make ACT the assessment, to remove the federal attachment and to give control of our curriculum to the local school districts,” Gunn said about the measures.

“I don’t take a political position on this. I take a personal position on this,” said Gov. Phil Bryant (R), while he spoke at a ‘Stop Common Core’ rally last week at the state Capitol, according to the Jackson Free Press.

Bryant referred to a meeting he attended of the National Governors Association (NGA), one of the owners of the copyright to the Common Core standards, during which attendees said Common Core was developed by national governors.

“Well I wasn’t in the room when it happened,” Bryant joked.

“We’re not here today to say take away those academic challenges,” Bryant said, referring to those Common Core supporters who claim opponents to the initiative are opposed to high standards. “We’re here to say make them better but take them away from the control of the federal government.”

In December, Bryant penned an op-ed in the Clarion-Ledger, in which he referred to the notion that the Common Core standards are controlled by the states as “a myth.” In addition, the Governor said, “[T]he method used to choose the test intended to be used with Common Core – the PARCC assessment – was improper according to the Mississippi Personal Service Contract Review Board.”

Bryant continued:

Yet, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) pushed it through anyway under claim of emergency, costing taxpayers $8.5 million. Of the 24 states that at one time decided to use the PARCC test, only 9 (including Mississippi thanks to MDE) remain on board. Clearly, many states have found reasons — legal and otherwise — they should not be participating in Common Core and the PARCC assessment.

Hill told Breitbart News that she herself recognized that the contract with PARCC was a “no-bid contract,” making its procurement – in her view and that of others – illegal.

Observing the continued overreach by the federal government into education since the creation of the federal Department of Education, Hill commented on the latest push for universal free pre-K.

“We haven’t even gotten K-12 right in Mississippi yet, but now they want us to do pre-K as well?” she asserted.

Difficulties aside, Hill believes the grassroots anti-Common Core activists in Mississippi have accomplished much already.

“We have gotten the public to fight, despite the fact that we are a grassroots group, a couple of state legislators, parents, and grandparents,” she said. “We’ve been called ‘conspiracy theorists,’ ‘paranoid,’ and other names by the opposition. But we will continue to fight.”

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