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Common Core support needed now

It doesn’t take another national report to know that Mississippi is failing its students.

No one should have been surprised Thursday when Education Week’s annual schools survey ranked Mississippi at the bottom of the list that compares students’ education achievement among the states and the District of Columbia. On the list, Mississippi and the District of Columbia were the only two jurisdictions that received an F for school performance.

Every Mississippian should be disappointed, but not surprised by these results. It is not as if we haven’t been here before.

Mississippi continues to do the same things that have failed us in the past.If we continue to do the same things, then we should expect the same results. Right?

That is why it is so perplexing that a group of conservative lawmakers would oppose the state’s efforts to adopt more rigorous educations standards that the business community says will provide what is necessary for students to succeed.

These standards, known as Common Core, will set a high bar for students and were developed by the National Governor’s Association and the Council for Chief State School Officer.

It should be noted that Common Core was adopted by the state in 2010. There was little opposition at the time.

Three years later, Common Core opponents are conjuring up a vision of a federal takeover of local schools. The opposition is spreading myths based on fear and not facts.

Common Core standards are not federally mandated. Mississippi along with 45 other states voluntarily adopted these standards that do not require the state or local school districts to relinquish control of public education to the federal government.

Each Mississippi school district — not the state or federal government — will set its own curriculum and determine what and how its students will learn.

What Common Core does do is create a common set of standards by which every student will judged, in Mississippi, in Connecticut, in California and all points between.

That is one reason the state’s largest business group is putting its support behind Common Core.

At its annual Capitol Day event Wednesday, MEC president Blake Wilson stressed how important Common Core is to the business community.

The state needs to continue to implement Common Core, because businesses and industries across the nation are using the standards as a way to determine where to invest resources.

Wilson pointed out that many Fortune 500 companies are behind Common Core as a way to compare educational achievement from one state to another. This is especially important considering the advancement of technology and the importance of a highly-skilled workforce.

“If Mississippi doesn’t do this, it will set us behind in economic development,” Wilson said.

What else do we need to get behind Common Core?

We certainly don’t need another set of survey results to tell us that continuing to do the same thing will lead to the same disappointing results.

Isn’t it time to do something different?

 

Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.

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