JACKSON – Interim state Superintendent of Education Lynn House said Monday night that Mississippi has adopted the Common Core national academic standards because “we can’t compete at the same pace we are going now. It is not working for us.”
House spoke to about 60 people in the auditorium of Central High School where the state Department of Education is located in the first of a series of meetings designed to provide information on the Common Core standards that are being enacted, starting next year. The next meeting is slated for tonight at 6 p.m. at the Oxford Public Library.
At least part of the goal of the statewide meetings is to alleviate some concerns – at least by some conservative groups – of the new national standards.
House said the standards are national – adopted by 44 states including the Mississippi Board of Education – but were not created by the federal government.
She cited a timeline of the state education chiefs, concerned that the nation was losing its leadership position in education, beginning the process in 2007. It was soon embraced by the National Governors’ Association.
“We’re moving to national standards because we believe it is the right thing to do for the state,” she said.
There is speculation that some conservative legislators may try to block that effort in the 2014 legislative session. Several lawmakers are holding a similar public forum this week in southwest Mississippi and others may be scheduled.
While there is at least some controversy surrounding the issue, Monday’s meeting did not reflect any. After her explanation, House answered written questions from the audience members. Some of the questions centered around whether the standards would force instructors to teach a certain way and stymie creativity. She said Common Core would enhance creativity.
But Laura Van Overschelde, vice president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party, said House did not read or answer her question.
“Some of the information she gave is not information you can find on the Internet,” she said, saying most of the governors did not know that the new standards were being developed. Van Overschelde said not all educators endorsed the new method that would allow the federal government “to mine” information about students and their parents.
She the state should continue using the current assessment model.
But House said the current assessment model does not require the critical thinking skills of the new common core standards.
“It is pushing students to apply what they learn every day to real life situations like you and I do every day,” said House, saying the standards should help students be more prepared to enter college or to be successful in the job market.