JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant issued an executive order Monday reaffirming the state is still in control of its public education system, even as nationalized Common Core math and English standards take root in public schools.
Bryant’s order makes it clear that the federal government will not be allowed to determine the standards, curricula, or standardized tests used by Mississippi schools.
The order also requires that the student data generated by Common Core-aligned state tests “shall comply with all laws that protect student and family privacy,” according to a press release issued by Bryant’s office.
Bryant, a Republican, explained his decision to rein in Common Core in a brief interview with WFMY News.
“It was my heartfelt concern that this was going towards a centralized system of the federal government, wanting to utilize funding, for example, Title 1, to take over the educational system in Mississippi,” Bryant said. “Now, people say, ‘Well, that’s not the plan.’ But that’s occurred before. So my executive order said that won’t happen as long as I am governor.
“I hope the Legislature will follow in building a fence, if you will, around our educational system … so the federal government cannot intervene now or in the future, through Common Core or any other system.”
Two top-ranking state lawmakers have indicated they’ll attempt to codify the executive order’s principles into law when the Legislature convenes next month.
But how effective will any of this be?
While the executive order promises Mississippians that the state will remain in control of the education system, it leaves the federally promoted Common Core standards in place.
Despite being hailed as “rigorous” by Common Core supporters, a growing number of scholars say the new learning standards are mediocre and designed mostly to prepare students for entry into a community college, instead of a selective four-year university.
Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute has also questioned just how meaningful a governor’s executive order will be in protecting students’ personal data generated by Common Core-aligned tests. Pullmann notes the Common Core testing companies (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) each have agreements with the federal government to share any test data they receive with D.C. bureaucrats.
Mississippi is expected to administer one of those Common Core-aligned tests – produced by the PARCC company – to students beginning in 2015.