Senator Chris McDaniel’s United Conservatives Fund PAC instrumental in convincing the Governor to issue the veto.

Ryan S. Walters | @ryanswalters73

Thursday was a great day in Mississippi for those who seek to end the federal Common Core education standards, Tate Reeves’ lies to the contrary, and a bad day for those who secretly support it and were doing nothing more than seeking a political gimmick during an election year.

Governor Phil Bryant vetoed SB 2161, proving that he is serious about ridding the state of Common Core, while Senator Chris McDaniel and his UCF PAC are praising Bryant’s action, and deservingly so.

The bill would have created a commission to study and recommend education standards to the state superintendent, who, by the law, does not have to follow them. It’s quite likely that Superintendent Wright, who the state hired from Baltimore of all places, would discard any recommendations from the commission because she is committed to Common Core. So the commission, in essence, was worthless, except for political reasons.

In his veto message, Governor Bryant said why he could not sign the bill:

“This bill provides no requirement that the Mississippi Board of Education or the Mississippi Department of Education must do anything to abandon Common Core. I remain firmly committed to ending Common Core in Mississippi. This bill does not accomplish that goal, and I cannot in good conscience sign it into law.”

After the veto, Senator McDaniel, UCF Chairman, released the following statement:

I commend Governor Bryant for being willing to stand up and state his position against Common Core and to veto this terrible legislation. Our UCF team did a great job bringing together conservatives and parents groups like MSFREE to get this done. Ultimately, the credit for this goes to the thousands of parents, grandparents, teachers and citizens of the state who took the time to make their voices heard. Now we must stay united and get to work to kill Common Core in Mississippi, once and for all.”

“As I said from the senate floor on March 31 when we voted on the bill, SB 2161 accomplishes nothing except to give politicians cover in an election year. Mississippians want elected officials to stand up and say whether they are for Common Core or against Common Core, not to develop commissions and boards to do our job for us.”

UCF’s Keith Plunkett also discussed the bill’s flaws and commended the veto:

“SB 2161 doesn’t guarantee Mississippi students won’t be subjected to consortia-driven testing that hands power over to unelected and unaccountable shadow groups and quasi-governmental entities. It doesn’t protect Mississippi students and their families from the collection and sharing of personal information with privately owned companies, and it doesn’t end Common Core, it simply renames it and gives it cover in the form of a politically appointed board. The truth is that MDE wants core-alignment and they want to share student’s personal data, because they want access to funds that come with it. They are more than willing to trade student’s future for the money. The Department of Education doesn’t own Mississippi students, and I’m glad Gov. Bryant has made that clear with this veto.”

And make no mistake, it was UCF that was leading the charge in pressuring Governor Bryant to veto the bill, everything from Senate floor debate by Senator McDaniel, a letter and media appearance by Senator Melanie Sojourner, and a petition drive that netted over 1,000 signatures.

So let’s be honest about the truth here.  As MCD has already reportedand Senator McDaniel has made clear, the bill was nothing more than political cover for politicians, namely Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who lashed out at the veto with more lies:

“Gov. Bryant’s veto of a bill that 93 Legislative Republicans supported ensures that Common Core will remain in Mississippi schools. SB 2161 ensured that student privacy would be protected, prohibited school districts from administering psychological or socio-emotional surveys, put in state law that PARCC test could not be mandated by the State Department of Education, and created a group of Mississippians (of which the Governor had more appointments than anyone) to create a set of high standards for Mississippi school children. To put this in simple terms, those that support Common Core are celebrating tonight.” 

But the veto does not ensure the continuance of Common Core. As Senator McDaniel said, it’s time for state leaders and the legislature to come together, do its job, and end it. And while we are at it, let’s get rid of the Superintendent from Baltimore and hire a native born Mississippian. Better yet, perhaps its time to change the law and have our Superintendent elected by the people of Mississippi for a change.

Although they are the top two leaders in state government and belong to the same party, Phil Bryant and Tate Reeves are the personifications of the split in Mississippi over Common Core. One side is committed to ending it; the other is more interested in lying and playing political games with the future of Mississippi’s kids than doing what’s right.

If Reeves and his 93 fellow Republicans that supported him were really serious about ending Common Core, then they would have passed legislation that did just that, like Senator Angela Hill’s 2014 bill, SB 2763, or her amendment to SB 2161, both of which would have completely ended it. But Tate Reeves, despite his lies, killed those efforts.

Right now Mississippi seems to be a house divided on the issue of Common Core.  But we deserve better than this – better schools and teachers for our kids and better leaders in Jackson!

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