Tag Archives: education

PLUNKETT: Reeves #CommonCore shell game backfires.


BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves election year political attempts to claim part of “his” agenda in the Mississippi Senate was successful, to end Common Core, continues to be dismissed by those on both sides of the issue.

Immediately following passage of SB 2161, the bill Reeves claimed ended Common Core, state Supt. Carey Wright was quoted as saying the bill did nothing to stop the federally mandated curriculum, and last week the MS Dept of Education began the process of reapplying for the ESEA waiver for the next three years. The ESEA waiver is handed out by the federal government with the stipulation that MDE must institute Common Core.

On Friday the New Albany Gazette Editorial board described how the Senate “wisely backed away” from creating new standards:

The Mississippi Senate has wisely backed away from insisting that the state Board of Education adopt educational standards to be developed by a 27-member board created by the Legislature.

On a 17-13 vote the Senate defeated a Tea-Party supported proposal that would have prevented the state board from continuing with the Common Core academic standards, called the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards.

Common Core opposition on social media have also disputed the claims the bill ends Common Core. These opponents showed massive support for the defeated amendment.

Reeves attempted to sell it as a political victory anyway.

“With this bill, we can end Common Core, we can end our connection to PARCC, and we can draft our own strong standards for the classroom,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said in a Feb 12 statement. “I am proud the Senate passed the only bill that can lead to the end of Common Core, and I appreciate the 28 Republicans and three Democrats that joined us to make that happen.”

Regardless of where one falls on the issue of Common Core, the level of disrespect Reeves has shown the Mississippi voters is breathtaking.

Reeves was for Common Core, even holding a rally in support of it in 2013, until he realized the political winds were blowing in a different direction. He thought browbeating the support of some of the members of the Conservative Coalition would gain him some political points with the anti-Common Core crowd, announcing some of the Senators had signed a letter “endorsing” him.

But the parents and educators who fight Common Core are not so easily toyed with. Sen. Angela Hill has toured the state publicly condemning Common Core for over a year, yet her willingness to endorse Reeves has done nothing to turn the tide against the bill he claims defeated Common Core. In fact, it is Hill who is now fighting to explain her support of Reeves and this shell game.

Common Core is easily the hottest issue in conservative politics in Mississippi in the past year. That Reeves would attempt to gain politically from it is really no surprise. That there are those who thought they could raise their own political capital by playing the game comes as little surprise either.

However, the fact that any of them thought they could use it to their advantage without actually doing what they said they would do shows a level of ego and ambition that made them blind to reality.

Now, what Reeves obviously had hoped would quiet calls for a challenger, have only made the chorus louder.

Political games don’t work as well when people refuse to be played as fools, and the opponents of Common Core know this issue inside-out.

Reeves and the others caught up in this are playing an old game. But the rules changed a long time ago. Political personalities aren’t so important when people are tuned in to issues. As I have written about Reeves, the same holds true for others. The people welcome a statement of support. But actions must align.

It’s a new order in conservative politics in Mississippi. Principles matter. The sooner politicians recognize that the better.

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Seven House Republicans join Democrats to postpone third-grade reading requirement.


Through an amendment, the GOP-led House voted Tuesday to postpone for a year the “Third Grade Reading Gate,” a measure passed in 2013 that would prevent third graders not reading proficiently from passing to fourth grade.

HB745, a bill that would have allowed some students with disabilities to be passed, was amended by Rep. Lataisha Jackson, D-Como, to exempt all students from the reading gate for a year. Jackson said the Legislature hasn’t provided the necessary funding or reading coaches to make the program work.

Seven Republicans crossed over to help the amendment pass, drawing the ire of Gov. Phil Bryant, an ardent supporter of the reading gate.

“It’s disappointing that 62 members of the House of Representatives would vote to socially promote children who cannot read,” Bryant said. “With votes like this, it is little wonder that Mississippi’s public education system has been an abysmal failure.”

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Brookhaven TEA Party calls Lt. Gov. Reeves out on #CommonCore stance.


The Brookhaven Tea Party doesn’t believe the anti-Common Core measure backed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is anti-Common Core enough, and it warns that it’s a plot by Reeves to help enrich former Gov. Haley Barbour “cronies and his K-Street lobbying firm.”

Reeves supports Senate legislation that creates of a 27-member commission to draft academic standards — his effort to do away with Common Core.

But the tea party group is urging people to support legislation by Sens. Michael Watson and Angela Burks Hill.

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HB 582 would give teachers assistants $1,000 raise at total cost of $6 million to taxpayers.


Assistant teachers could see a $1,000 pay raise under a plan moving forward in the House.

The House Education Committee approved House Bill 582 Wednesday, which would raise the employees’ yearly salary to $14,000 a year from $13,000 a year.

The committee originally considered a $500 increase, but agreed on $1,000. With 6,000 assistant teachers in grades K-3 statewide, a $1,000 raise would cost a total of $6 million.

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HARRISON: Speaker Gunn forces through bill to rename #CommonCore, won’t be as welcome in senate.


BY: Bobby Harrison | Daily Journal

Tea Party Republicans had entered the 2015 session saying they would not be satisfied with anything less than the elimination of Common Core standards, which they claim are part of an attempt by the federal government to take over local school districts.

During debate of the proposal to change the name, no House Republican raised any objections – even when Education Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, who has some Tea Party leanings himself, explained that the bill would not force the state Board of Education to change the existing Common Core standards it has adopted for the state.

Needless to say, do not expect all Republicans to be on board with just a name change when the issue is debated in the state Senate later this session. Tea Party Republicans like Michael Watson of Pascagoula and Chris McDaniel of Ellisville will make sure of that.

During the past three years, a handful of Republicans have voted with Democrats in the House to limit the strength of charter school legislation and to block vouchers from being awarded to allow special-needs children to attend private school.

But now during 2015, on the two biggest issues yet, both also involving public education, Republicans have been in near unanimity. This has Gunn re-evaluating his pledge after the House voted down the special-needs voucher bill in 2014 that it would not be an issue in 2015. Now, the speaker is talking like it might be.

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PULLMAN: Behind the sloganeering of #SchoolChoice Week


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BY: Joy Pullman | Heartland Institute

Choice in itself can seem to be a dangerous concept. After all, the mere act of choosing something does not make that act good. I can choose to kick the dog or pet him. The mere freedom to make a choice does not ensure its wisdom. So it seems a little trite to celebrate generic “school choice.”

Indeed, we already have universal school choice in the United States, in the sense that somebody, somewhere, gets to decide what choices the rest of us have to live with. Yet, as economist Thomas Sowell put it and has been encapsulated by a tweet circulating from the Cato Institute this School Choice Week: “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

Yes, we have school choice in this country – we have centralized school choice. Bureaucratized school choice. Central planning. The few, the proud, the paper-pushers making whatever decisions please them.

Let’s review why this doesn’t work. Government officials are no more or less fallible than the rest of us. We are all human. We make mistakes. This is an observation far older than James Madison’s discussion of it in Federalist Paper No. 10. And if a bureaucrat or lawmaker makes a mistake, he harms thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people. If I make a mistake, at most I will harm myself and a handful of others. And if I make a mistake in my own life, I am strongly motivated to fix it quickly, given the personal pain mistakes usually inflict. It is far less likely that I will double down on my mistake than that a bureaucrat, whose interest is to protect his sinecure, not get things right, will.

Further, as Sowell indicates, people make even worse decisions when they’re not making decisions about their own affairs. If my dad sends me on a shopping spree with his credit card, I’m going to spend far more than if I were using my own. Rarely in human history has giving a few people the power to make choices on behalf of everyone increased the likelihood of good results.

So yes, celebrate school choice, this week and always, but not generically. Celebrate the individual freedom to choose. Celebrate, as Howard Fuller calls it, parent choice: the right and responsibility of individuals to govern the affairs of themselves and their families.

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ROCHA: The Schooling Consensus


BY: Sam Rocha

In the polarized United States everyone agrees about something, although the ways that we agree, the terms that we use, and the things that we say are quite different. In short, we agree that schools are in bad shape. In nobody’s view are schools doing well. Expressions of this agreement, from left to right and reformist to radical, seem different, but are not nearly as different as one might expect.

On the left, public schools are championed as centers that add value to a democratic society in the way that roads and libraries do. This view is critical of public schools for not being as public as they should be, for becoming too representative of private interests. This view sees the curriculum of public schools as infected with a bias for Christian religion and the idolatry of the U.S. nation-state.

On the right, alternatives to public schools are sought after, from private academies to charter schools, because the public delivery method is seen as being too restrictive, limiting, and wasteful. This view is critical of public schools for being too bureaucratic and representative of insular local interests and the State. This view sees the curriculum of public schools as infected with a bias for secularism and anti-Americanism.

There are more radical positions, of course, that reject the school altogether or, more moderately, reproduce it in different forms at home and in alternative academic settings. But even these positions ascribe to the basic belief that the present state of schooling is a harm. Where the radicals differ from the more reformist right and left is that they do not see schools as failures. Schools, the radicals say, are quite successful at doing exactly what they were created to do—such as dividing a nation into neat and predictable binaries—most of all, to create a docile and unthinking class of useful idiots. We do not need to reform schools, on the radical view; we need to destroy them.

Critics of the Common Core emerged from every side as soon as it began about a year ago. Proponents of classical models of schooling hated it every bit as much as the Marxists and the free-schoolers did. From Bush to Obama, the transition from No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top to Common Core is a seamless bi-partisan garment. I know much of this because I work closely with leftist and anarchist educational scholars and theorists, classical liberals, and Catholic conservatives of every stripe. Each group seems to think that each other one is a fan of these recent policies or some aspect of their rationale, but the truth is that they are not the enemies they suspect each other of being. Indeed, for once, they may be allies.

Those who support the status quo model of compulsory schooling, regulated by standardized tests that have no real standards, governed by arbitrary rules cooked up by a crockpot of social scientific studies that expire every two or three years, do so mainly for reasons of ignorance or self-preservation, not because they believe that the schools of today are worthwhile in their present state. For most people, schools are more reliable routes to miserable jobs and money than anything else out there, so why not support them?

Revolution begins with dissatisfaction. A true consensus is always already present in a dissensus infectious enough to go unnoticed. Perhaps this is why politicians say next to nothing about schools, except for conflating them with starry-eyed, Hallmark-card platitudes about education. The general public does not understand what schools are here to do, where they came from, and why we decided to make people attend them for 12 consecutive years under penalty of law during the mid-19th century. The ideological ways in which the vocation of teaching has been decimated is about much more than teacher unions and compensation. And there is blame to go around several times. We’ve lost our way, or perhaps we’ve found our way into a dissent that is long overdue.

How this state of schooling leaks into colleges and universities is not hard to see or understand. Ask any thoughtful academic about the state of her profession and home institution and the reply will invariably be grim about the future. The schooling consensus replicates itself across the humanities. How is it that atheistic analytic philosophy departments and leftist cultural studies faculties are just as insecure and fragile today as religious studies scholars and theologians? Academics sometimes like to think that one side is reaping the rewards of our vulnerability, but the truth is that this monstrous philistinism shows no prejudice.

In the fine arts things are even more poignant and terrifying. School killed jazz, some people say. Who knows? What seems clear is that the school of today is no longer the school of yesteryear, the school that, whether public or private, functioned as a primarily civic institution, with disciplinary but protective social purposes. The school of today is indifferent and even allergic to the civic model; schooling is today becoming less and less political and more and more economic in scope and purpose. Schools are, like prisons, a for-profit business, a barrel of fish booming and beaming with practical and relevant and quick ways to make a buck or two.

This new economic school is a threat to all. It is a menace with enough teeth to not be picky about the pet theories of those whom it eats. We don’t agree about education or the political questions of what a society is and should be, but I think that we all agree—even those who don’t realize it—that schooling today is lost and must be revisited from the beginning.

This is a weak consensus, to be sure, as all authentic agreement is, but it is a start for finding a direction that helps more than it harms. The schooling consensus might at the very least begin a modest experiment in seeing one’s own fate in the hands of another.

Originally published at Ethika Politika

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