State superintendent, Board confirm support for Common Core



By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Mississippi Board of Education Chair Wayne Gann of Corinth and state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright issued statements Friday defending the enactment of national Common Core academic standards after Gov. Phil Bryant called them “a failed program.”

In a statement released Friday, Gann, the former superintendent of the Corinth School District, said, “On behalf of the state Board of Education, I want to express our disappointment in the comments Gov. Bryant has made about the state’s higher standards for learning. When Board members voted to approve the standards four years ago, we knew that this was an opportunity to provide students with the high-quality education that they deserved so they can be better prepared for college or direct entry into the workforce with the knowledge and skills to succeed.”

Gann added, “While Mississippi had made some improvements in education over the years, it was obvious that the state’s former standards would not be enough to move us from the bottom of every national measure of education outcomes. It is our hope that our students’ futures are not placed in jeopardy for political expediency.”

The Republican Bryant made the comments Thursday – a day after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order in that state trying to stop the enactment of Common Core. It is not clear whether Jindal has that authority.

Common Core standards, which supporters say are designed to require more critical thinking skills of students, were formed by the National Governors Association and the states’ top educator officials late last decade. Since then, various conservative groups have said the standards are an attempt by the federal government to take over the local school systems.
During the 2014 session, the Legislature rejected efforts to prevent the Board of Education from enacting Common Core.

Bryant said Thursday that the Legislature might revisit the issue again in 2015. That revisiting would come as local school districts are scheduled to administer the standardized tests that are aligned with Common Core.

Wright said, “It is a gross mischaracterization to call the standards a ‘failed program’ when Mississippi and other states have yet to give the first test aligned to the standards. The state is still in the implementation phase, and to remove the standards now would be disheartening to the district and school leaders and teachers who have invested time and resources in this effort.”

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