By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – State Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, will file a bill in January calling for Mississippi to pause implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Speaking at a Tupelo Tea Party meeting called to raise concerns about the standards, Hill said the bill will be modeled after one recently signed into law in Indiana. It would call for more time for public study.
“It will halt further implementation of Common Core Standards and testing so we can have an open conversation we never had,” she said.
A member of the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition, Hill said she would have support of the group’s other 10 Senators. She said she also had some support in the state House.
The Common Core Standards are new guidelines for English and math instruction that were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They were fully adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
About 60 people attended Monday’s meeting held at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. Both Hill and Heather Williamson of Freedom Works – who spoke via online video – said they were concerned that the standards were promoted by big corporations that would make money from their implementation.
Each also spoke about the loss of local control.
“Mississippi can certainly use higher standards, but there is a myth that Mississippi can’t have higher standards without Common Core and I beg to differ with that,” Hill said. “We have students in Mississippi who can compete with anyone.”
Mississippi’s problem, Hill said, is not its standards but its gap between top-performing schools and low-performing ones. Standards will not fix that, she said.
Hill said Common Core’s emphasis on rigor might be placing inappropriate strain on students.
“Sometimes with Common Core, we need to replace the term rigor with the term developmentally inappropriate,” she said. “Students need to get to a certain level before they can think abstractly.”
Hill and Williamson said Mississippi and other “cash strapped” states only agreed to adopt the standards in order to be eligible to apply for grant money under the Federal Race to the Top program. Mississippi was not successful in receiving such a grant.