Mississippi citizens who oppose the Common Core State Standards have been using social media and public forums to express and share their concerns about what they say is a federal intrusion in education. Now, as 2014 begins, they will bring their fight to the state Capitol.
As the Associated Press reports, on Tuesday morning, opponents of Common Core will hold a rally on the steps of the Capitol in Jackson, demanding that lawmakers end Mississippi’s participation in the standards and its associated assessments.
Critics of Common Core believe the new standards are the start of federal control over K-12 education. In addition, they oppose the data mining of students’ private information that will be shared with testing companies and technology corporations.
Laura Vice of Agricola said she removed her first-grader from George County public schools in the fall and began homeschooling her after becoming concerned about her homework.
“You could see that the assignments were focused on writing out thoughts and not worksheets, and that’s a lot for a 6-year-old,” said Vice, who started GC Parents Against Common Core on Facebook.
Vice, who said school officials ignored her concerns, asked, “Why do we have to completely change the way things have to be done? Why do we have to create this culture of overthinking everything? Personally, I think that’s what’s wrong with the government now.”
Kreg Overstreet, however, defended the Common Core standards at a Stone County Board of Education meeting in October. “I had not noticed anything objectionable or anything that was out of the ordinary, so to speak,” he said about his daughters’ schoolwork. Overstreet said he trusts school administrators and that the criticism of Common Core is “pure, through-and-through politics.”
At least one state senator challenged the notion that the new standards are more rigorous than what many states have now. “We’d like to get rid of Common Core, of course, and replace them with standards that are better than Common Core,” said Sen. Angela Hill (R).
Opponents of the standards are also against the tests that are aligned with them. Mississippi is a member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two Common Core multi-state testing consortia.
Since the Common Core-aligned tests are administered entirely online, even students in the third grade must be able to type in order to take the exams. In addition, school districts must have sufficient computers and Internet bandwidth to accommodate the assessments.
At least six states have left the Common Core testing consortia, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Utah, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Common Core opponents in Mississippi have indicated that they may attempt to amend the state’s budget to prohibit spending on the new assessments if their lawmakers will not abandon the new standards.
But critics have their work cut out for them since, as the AP reports, the chairmen of both the state House and Senate education committees support the new standards. In addition, though Gov. Phil Bryant (R) issued an executive order banning federal interference in education in his state, the order does not prohibit implementation of Common Core.
Rep. John Moore, House Education Chairman, is considering a bill that would codify the ban against implementation, but says he is opposed to pulling out of the consortium because the state is already heavily invested in the transition to Common Core. “I don’t see anything happening with that,” Moore said. “The transition is too far down the line. We have a lot of districts that have been working on Common Core for three years.”
The lack of support by lawmakers was apparent to Common Core opponents in December.
According to onenewsnow.com, many school superintendents, school board members, and a representative from the governor’s office attended a forum last month sponsored by the Mississippi Faith and Freedom Coalition.
However, Rob Chambers of the Christian Action Commission said that only ten of 170 legislators attended. “For an issue of grave concern for our state and our children, for less than a dozen legislators to show up is disconcerting,” Chambers said.
Nevertheless, Chambers believes the rally in Jackson on January 7th represents a “push toward some type of change via the legislature’s upcoming session.”