Meridian Star

Columns

January 14, 2014

Top School Embraces Common Core

MERIDIAN — Let’s get this straight.  

    Politician Michael Watson, a state senator from Pascagoula, thinks Common Core educational standards are bad.

    Educator John Buchanan, superintendent of the Petal School District – the third highest ranking school district in the state, thinks Common Core educational standards are good.

    "For whatever reason, it appears as though it has become a political issue,” Buchanan told WDAM-TV. “I'm not a political guy, I'm a school guy." Buchanan said Petal is completely behind Common Core.

While Petal has been teaching to Common Core standards since 2010, it has been teaching to high standards much longer.

    "We've been teaching these types of standards, which causes students to think deeply, more critical type thinking skills, we've been doing that for a long time,” said Petal High School principal  Steve Simmons, “so to be quite honest, it wasn't that big of a change for us."

Petal School District received an     "A" rating for the 2012-2013 school year.

    Protesters stirred up by politicians rallied against Common Core standards in Jackson during the opening day of the Legislature.

Politician Angela Hill, a state senator from Picayune, told the Clarion-Ledger, “We want other options than the federal standards.”

Watson told WDAM-TV, “You take standards from states that have been proven, that work, that are internationally benchmarked. You bring those standards to Mississippi.”

    So where do they think Common Core standards came from?

They were developed and adopted in 2009 by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the states’ top education officials.  They were drawn from the best standards then in use by various states in the U.S.  They were internationally benchmarked and written to prepare students for success in college and the work place. Indeed, the standards are copyrighted – owned – by NGA Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, not the federal government.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour was among the early supporters of Common Core, seeing it as an effort to make all states’ education systems competitive globally. In 2010, the Mississippi Board of Education voted to implement Common Core standards, which require more critical-thinking skills of students.

    On the same day that politicians led the rally against Common Core, Mississippi business leaders gathered at the state capitol for the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual “capitol day.”

    MEC president Blake Wilson said business leaders stand fully behind the Common Core standards.

    “We cannot turn away,” Wilson told Mississippi Public Broadcasting.  Mississippi must continue to implement the standards because businesses now use the benchmark when deciding which states to invest in. “If Mississippi doesn't do this, it will set us behind in economic development.”

    Educator Carey Wright, the new state superintendent of education, said of Common Core, “I do believe in it…. We need to stick with implementation.”

Got it?

Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

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