Mississippi Legislature Votes to End Common Core, Prohibit PARCC

mississippi-state-flagYesterday, the Mississippi House (88 to 29) and Senate (46 to 6) voted to adopt the conference report on SB 2161 that would end the state’s participation in the Common Core State Standards and prohibit the Mississippi State Department of Education from using the PARCC assessment starting with the 2015-2016 school year.  The bill heads to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s desk who called Common Core a failed program last summer.

WLOX-TV 13 (ABC) quoted Lt. Governor Tate Reeves who said, “This legislation will end Common Core and allow Mississippians to create strong academic standards that are among the highest in the nation.”

A 24-member Mississippi Commission for College and Career Readiness made up of parents, educators, and content specialists will be formed to develop new standards by July 1, 2015.  The State Board of Education will hear recommendations from the commission on new standards before July 1, 2016.

As with any such review handled by a State Board of Education there is always a danger of rebranding, but congratulations are in order for Mississippians.

Update: Governor Bryant tells The Clarion Ledger that he may not sign because he’s not sure the bill will accomplish anything.

“It appears to me to just be another committee, that the Department of Education could look at what they recommend and just reject,” Bryant said. He said he’s been pushing to have fewer boards and commissions in state government, not more. He said he plans to parse the bill closely before making a decision.

Senate Bill 2161 passed the Senate 87-29 and passed the House with only six no votes on Tuesday.

Some tea party conservative lawmakers who oppose Common Core, such as Sen. Chris McDaniel, said the bill was milquetoast and would not do anything to prevent the Department of Education from using Common Core national standards. McDaniel called it “smoke and mirrors.”

These are valid points, but no bill would mean Common Core will be used.  Let’s not let perfection become a roadblock for good.  Sign this bill into law and then work on passing a clarifying bill if they feel this doesn’t go far enough.  Watch the State Board and Commission like a hawk.

2nd Update:  Somebody reminded me that Mississippi was already leaving PARCC after this year.  That takes the shine off of this bill somewhat.  Got to love it when you forget about a bill you blogged about.  So that makes a veto more palatable to me.  Honestly folks… I don’t live in Mississippi.  I don’t know all of the players.  So if anti-Common Core activists want a veto who am I to argue with them?  I don’t believe that your fight has ended either way.  I do see opportunity with a review, but I agree it is not a repeal.  Again, Mississippians you know better than I do what the likely outcome will be.  If this does become law hopefully that won’t be the case.  Eyes open… eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Here is the bill below:

Common Core Fight Comes to Mississippi Legislature

ms-state-building

The Mississippi Legislature has taken up the fight against Common Core.  Two bills have advanced in the Mississippi House of Representatives passing out of the House Education Committee.  The first is HB 156.  The bill removes the pre-existing requirement for a combined state-federal system and it revises the name of the standards.

This bill doesn’t repeal the Common Core.  House Education Chair John Moore (R-Brandon) told the Clarion Ledger  that the legislation allows Mississippi to change the standards without asking the federal government for permission.

The second bill, HB 385, breaks the state’s ties with PARCC.  The language of the bill makes it pretty clear that the current Common Core consortia assessments (PARCC or Smarter Balanced) can’t be used.  Based on the language in the bill it appears if this bill is signed into law Mississippi will utilize ACT for their assessments since it establishes criteria that the entity they contract with has at least 50 years of experience adminstering college entrance exams.

Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) filed both of those bills and he also filed HB 395 which also passed the House Education Committee.  This bill reinforces that school districts through their elected school boards adopt curriculum that is aligned to the state’s assessment standards.

HB 385 is probably the most meaningful bill of the bunch.  HB 156 seems completely meaningless to me, but I’ll admit I’m not familiar with Mississippi education law so perhaps it was a necessary step.  Unless a repeal bill is offered however the state of Mississippi could just end up renaming/rebranding Common Core instead of getting rid of it.

There also were two Common Core-related bills filed in the Mississippi Senate that will considered by that body’s education committee.  The first bill was filed on Friday by State Senator Gray Tollison (R-Oxford) who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

His bill, SB 2249, will establish a Mississippi Commission on College and Career Readiness that would recommend new curriculum and assessment standards for public schools that are based on national and international benchmarks.  It also directs the Mississippi State Board of Education to consider the new standards recommended by the Commission, and to remove the copyright and references to the Common Core in the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards.

The commission will consist of 9 members with 2 members being appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House.  One member will be appointed by the President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, and two members of the State Board of Education will also sit on the Commission.  The Commission is to hold its first meeting no later than September 1, 2015.

The Commission would be tasked to recommend additional academic standards for and propose changes to the current Mississippi standards that include the Common Core math and English-language arts standards.  They then to recommend an assessment that is aligned to the new and revised standards.  The bill then directs this commission to solicit feedback online and then make its recommendation to the Mississippi Legislature no later than January 1, 2016.

The bill then prohibits the Mississippi State Board of Education from entering into any agreement, contract or memorandum of understanding with any federal agency or private agency that would cause the state to cede control of their standards and assessments.  The bill also prohibits the sharing of personally identifiable data with any federal or third party agency.

Needless to say I have some concerns with this bill though it is better than the current status quo.  My concern mainly lies with the process.  First, their needs to be greater opportunity for public feedback than just an online venue.  I hope the bill is amended to include public hearings/townhall meetings.  Second, I’m concerned with the short timeline. I’m not sure unless they are to start earlier than September 1, 2015 how they can do anything beyond just offering minor tweaks to the existing standards.  There needs to be a much more substantial revision than this.

That said I like it more than I do HB 156.

Hopefully Mississippi Senators can improve the bill via the amendment process and/or the Mississippi House will offer a stronger version.

The second bill, SB 2468, was filed on Monday by State Senator Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula).  His bill takes a different tack.  This bill, if passed, would direct local school districts to allow parents to opt their enrolled students out of Common Core-aligned curriculum, standardized assessments, and certain types of student data collection, as well as, prohibit the release of information regarding their children’s beliefs.  It also directs the State Board of Education to draw up regulations consistent with the goals of the bill.

The bill offers language for an opt-out form to be used by local school districts for parents who seek to opt their children out.  You can read the language of the form in the bill that is embedded below.

Common Core Repeal Bill Filed in Mississippi Senate

mississippi-state-capitolState Senator Angela Burks Hill (R-Picayune) filed SB 2736 which if passed would prohibit the Mississippi State Board of Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards.  It also would repeal the state’s SLDS system.

It has been referred to the Mississippi Senate Education Committee.

The 10th Amendment Center has a great call to action for it.  Here are the committee members below:

Update: Sorry we posted on this late.  It looks as though this bill died in committee.

State Senator: Mississippi Can Do Better Than Common Core

angela-hillI wrote last week about opposition to the Common Core starting to crop up in Mississippi.  Mississippi PEP, a conservative blog on Mississippi politics, posted a guest op/ed by State Senator Angela Hill (R-Picayune) who was mentioned last week.

Here’s an excerpt:

Last week, I and my fellow Senators in the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition found evidence of racially discriminatory policy in testing expectations arising from the adoption and implementation of Common Core State standards in Mississippi. These standards are currently being rolled out across the state by the Mississippi Department of Education.

As a group, the coalition has begun researching public policy and potential legislation that will come to the forefront in the 2014 session of the legislature. However, when the latest evidence of racial standards arose, we could not wait until January to talk about it. It was an important enough issue to Mississippi students and their parents to be shared immediately.

The more we in the Senate Conservative Coalition learn about Common Core Standards themselves and the testing, reporting, and accountability model that Mississippi will be bound to as reported in the No Child Left Behind Waiver document, the more we are troubled. Our research indicates that Common Core implementation will result in more overreach from the federal government, higher than expected costs, and potentially lower standards for all students. As legislators, those are all issues at which we must look closer. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness math standards are. These concerns, in conjunction with the added racial bias the coalition has found, would do great harm to future generations of Mississippians.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Common Core Opposition Cropping Up in Mississippi

WJTV Channel 12 in Mississippi reports that opposition to the Common Core State Standards is starting to crop up in Mississippi.

A group of state senators is questioning Mississippi’s implementation of the Common Core education standards, even as the state’s schools move to fully implement the standards this fall.

Republican Sen. Angela Hill of Picayune says Mississippi’s decision to set different testing goals for different racial subgroups undermines the state’s adoption of the standards, along with 44 other states. Hill wants to at least freeze Mississippi’s work on Common Core, if not reverse it.

Great news.  In the comments section please leave information about any grassroots groups that you know are fighting the Common Core in Mississippi.