By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Tupelo Tea Party will meet Monday night to discuss concerns about the new Common Core State Standards.
The meeting is intentionally planned for the night before Tuesday’s Mississippi Education Symposium, which will focus on innovation in education, the use of technology and preparing teachers for using the new standards. The symposium will be headlined by William Bennett, who served as U.S. Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan.
The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.
Speakers include State Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, and Whitney Neal, director of grassroots for FreedomWorks. Neal will give a presentation via Skype from Washington, D.C., and there will be a question-and-answer session.
Hill is a member of the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition, which has been vocal in its opposition to the Common Core State Standards.
The 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.
Many schools have already begun to introduce the new standards, and students will begin to be tested on them next year.
Grant Sowell of the Tupelo Tea Party said he has concerns about the cost of implementing the standards, including curriculum, textbooks and training.
Mississippi is among a group of states in the PARCC Consortium working together to develop a test based on the new standards. The group has called for those tests to be taken on computers, which will impose an additional cost on schools.
Several states have announced plans to back out of PARCC and develop their own tests, and Sowell said Mississippi should look at their reasons for doing so.
Sowell said the event is also trying to reach those outside of the Tea Party, including Common Core supporters.
“At the end of the day, we are open to discussion and open to debate,” Sowell said.