Mississippi lawmakers may consider repeal of Common Core

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JACKSON, Miss.  – Will 2014 be the year that Mississippi pulls out of the national Common Core experiment?

That’s one of the questions observers are asking as Mississippi lawmakers get ready to start the new legislative session on Tuesday.

Opponents of the one-size-fits-all math and English learning standards  – which “bleed” over into other subject areas as well  – have been gearing up for this repeal fight for the past year. They’re planning a Tuesday morning rally on the steps of the Capitol as a way of highlighting the need for action, the Associated Press reports.

Common Core critics believe the standards are a back-door attempt by the federal government to exert control over what gets taught in the nation’s K-12 schools. Critics also worry that students’ most personal and sensitive information will be collected through Common Core testing and shared with D.C. bureaucrats and for-profit K-12 technology companies.

But despite all their organizing and information-sharing efforts, it appears too many powerful legislators still support Common Core, including the chairmen of both the House and Senate education committees. Those lawmakers represent a major obstacle for Common Core opponents, as they can bottle up any legislation they don’t support.

And even if a repeal makes it through the Legislature, it might not get past Gov. Phil Bryant’s desk. The AP reports that Bryant remains in favor of the nationalized learning standards, which schools have been slowly implementing over the past three years.

“I don’t see anything happening with (a repeal effort),” Republican House Education Committee Chairman John Moore, a Common Core supporter, told the AP. “The transition is too far down the line. We have a lot of districts that have been working on Common Core for three years.”

That doesn’t mean Common Core opponents are without options. The AP notes “it might be possible to amend the (state) budget to bar spending on” Common Core-related tests. Such an action would surely throw a huge wrench into the Common Core plan.

The problem is that it would likely require lawmakers to commission a new, state-specific standardized test — and that would be a costly and time-consuming proposition.

Common Core opponents’ best option might be to pressure legislative leaders into taking the principles outlined in Gov. Bryant’s recent executive order and turning them into a new state law. Among other things, Bryant’s executive order prohibits the feds from exerting any control over Mississippi schools’ curricula and testing, and it guarantees that students’ privacy rights will be protected.

Chairman Moore has suggested such a bill might meet his approval.

But those are consolation prizes, and Common Core critics don’t appear ready to consider a “Plan B” until they try for an outright repeal. It should make for an interesting couple of months in Mississippi.

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