A bill introduced in the Mississippi Senate would end Common Core in schools throughout the state. A second bill would allow parents to opt their children out Common Core-aligned curricula and information sharing with the federal government.
Sen. Angela Burks Hill (R-Picayune) introduced Senate Bill 2075 (SB2075) on Jan. 11. The legislation would end Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards formerly known as Common Core. The Mississippi State Board of Education would be required to replace Common Core with ELA Standards in place in 2010 in one of several states labeled as clearly superior to the Common Core Standards in the Thomas B. Fordham Publication entitled The State of the State Standards.
SB2075 includes provisions to ensure the state maintains full control over its educational standards.
“The State of Mississippi shall retain sole control over the development, establishment and revision of curriculum standards. Neither the State Board of Education nor any other state education entity, nor any state official, may join any consortium or any other organization when participation in that consortium or organization would cede any measure of control over any aspect of Mississippi public education to entities outside the state, nor may any such person or entity enter into any agreement, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or contract with any federal agency or private entity which in any way cedes or limits state discretion of control over the development, or revision of the Mississippi Curriculum Standards and related student assessments, including, but not limited to, agreements, MOUs and contracts in exchange for funding for public schools and programs.”
A second bill introduced by Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) would leave Common Core standards in place but would allow parents to opt their children out. Senate Bill 2098 (SB2098) would authorize and direct all public school boards in the state to allow parents or legal guardians of students enrolled in the school district to opt out of Common Core-aligned curricula and to opt out of sharing their child’s personal information with the federal government and other agencies and private contractors.
Common Core was intended to create nationwide education standards. While touted as a state initiative through the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education was heavily involved behind the scenes. Initially, the DoE tied the grant of waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act to the adoption of Common Core, using the standards as powerful strings to influence state educational policy. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in 2015 prohibited the DoE from attempting to “influence, incentivize, or coerce State adoption of the Common Core State Standards … or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States.” ESSA gives more latitude to states and local school districts in determining standards, but the feds still maintain significant control over state education systems. States are required to submit their goals and standards, along with a detailed plan outlining how they plan to achieve them to the DoE for feedback and then approval.
Even with the federal strings cut from Common Core, for the time being, it is still imperative for each state to adopt its own standards independent based on their own criteria. The feds can once again use these national standards to meddle in state education at any time if they remain in place. Just as importantly, one-size-fits-all standards simply don’t benefit children. State and local governments should remain in full control of their own educational systems.
Giving parent the option to opt out of Common Core could undercut the program and force it to end if enough parents took advantage of the option. We’ve seen a wide-spread Common Core opt-out movement evolve in several states, particularly New York with thousands of parents opting their kids out of associated standardized testing.
Rejecting nationalized education standards is the first step toward bringing true academic choice, and freedom. Passage of this legislation into law represents a positive step forward for the people of Mississippi and a path for other states to follow.
Both SB2075 and SB2098 were referred to the Senate Education Committee where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.