YOUR OPINION: Watson says Journal biased on Common Core

watson1For many years, the Daily Journal has been supportive of most everything the Mississippi Department of Education has done, or wanted to do, including trying to kill recently passed charter school legislation. The newspaper has likewise supported the recent push for the unproven, untested change in standards to the new Common Core.

While one would expect bias and allegiance to the Education Department from the Daily Journal based on past performance, it is disappointing that editors would allow or encourage reporters to propagate outright fabrications through lazy reporting.

In a recent article ( “Oxford meeting addresses core concerns,” Aug. 21), Daily Journal writer Chris Kieffer covers the Mississippi Department of Education’s public relations tour in support of Common Core and the stop in Oxford. However, his “report” does little more than assist education bureaucrats’ ongoing attempts to smear anyone who dare question their authority.
Kieffer not only excludes the numerous concerns and unanswered questions of parents, teachers and legislators in his “report,” he inaccurately characterizes those who want answers as nothing more than President Obama “haters.”

To quote Kieffer: “The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has made statements questioning the Common Core and other states have considered discarding them. Much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace of them.”

That is Kieffer’s entire treatment of those of us who have concerns. His lack of inclusion of those concerns is lazy, dishonest, biased and it is shameful.

The truth is there are many legitimate unanswered questions about Common Core, how it was adopted and why, what level of authority and control the Department of Education is handing over to the federal government, and whether the Common Core standards are really about higher expectations and will give Mississippi students the best chance at future success. The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has stepped up to demand answers. We hope all parents and teachers who have concerns will join us in that effort. Our children deserve no less.

It is expected that bureaucrats at the Department of Education would try to turn disagreement into something as trivial as a political dislike of the president. But, for the Daily Journal to knowingly mislead its readers with this type of “reporting” is extremely deceptive. It hampers the ability of your readers to make informed decisions with facts. It reduces the Daily Journal to a tool of the Department of Education to be used to ‘shape’ public opinion through exclusion of useful information that tells the whole story.

If the Daily Journal wishes to enter into a collaborative effort to act as the Mississippi Department of Education’s public relations arm then that is a decision for the owners and editors. But, you should at least have the boldness and courage to let that fact be known before publishing articles that purport to be honest and unbiased news.

In the meantime, if you wish to fully and accurately report the issues surrounding Common Core in Mississippi, you will find many of the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition’s questions here:

Maybe the Daily Journal reporters will even consider asking a few themselves, next time.

Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula)
Policy Chairman-Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition

THE EDITOR REPLIES: The statement in the article by reporter Chris Kieffer that “much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace” of Common Core standards is accurate, not a “fabrication,” as Sen. Watson suggests, since a principal objection of Common Core opponents around the nation has been that the administration has tied federal financial incentives to its adoption and the questions about federal control that raises, as alluded to in Sen. Watson’s letter.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Common Core supporter, wrote of the growing opposition in the National Review recently: “And President Obama’s embrace of the standards as his idea has given the appearance that they are a Washington edict. It has politicized the issue and complicated the understanding of who initiated and led the development of these higher standards.”

The purpose of the reference in Kieffer’s article was to place into context the statements that followed from Interim State Superintendent Lynn House that work on the standards did not start during the Obama administration and was initiatedLloyd Gray Mug by the states. Nowhere in the article did Kieffer make any reference to Obama “haters.”

Kieffer’s article was a brief report on a night meeting in which House and state Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, were quoted. It was not intended as a comprehensive report on Common Core. A front-page article the previous day from a similar Jackson meeting by the Daily Journal’s Bobby Harrison included specific concerns raised by a Common Core opponent in attendance, and a previous article outlined other concerns expressed by members of the Senate Conservative Coalition.

The Daily Journal did not, as Sen. Watson writes, try “to kill recently passed charter school legislation.” Daily Journal editorials in the last two years have consistently supported a reasonable charter school bill with certain limits, and that’s how we characterized the one that passed this year. Kieffer and the Daily Journal provided some of the state’s earliest and most extensive reporting on the charter school issue prior to development and passage. The Journal has editorially supported implementation of the Common Core standards, as has most of the state’s elected leadership.
Lloyd Gray/Executive Editor Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio

  • BlackSheep

    Boom. Daily Journal – 1 Sen. Watson – 0

    • vickir1kingskid

      When the people of this state realize the truth behind Common Core….it will be

      BOOM….Daily Journal…..-FAIL
      Sen. Watson…….A++++++++++++++++

  • 1941641

    Does Watson represent the Mississippi Tea Party or the more rational-minded Mississippi Daily Journal /general public? That is the big question.

  • guest

    It would seem to me that if Sen. Watson had real fact based issues with the Common Core system he would use any correspondence to list them to educate the public and not just attack the NMDJ. It would seem to me if there were problems for Mississippi we would need to know them and not just the point that Sen. Watson does not like what the Journal states.

    Thank you Mr. Gray for sticking with the issues and not backing down.

  • countrydawg

    Watson supports charter schools to give parents choices, but having common testing so parents can compare schools is somehow bad. It’s bad politics, not good principles. Parents deserve to be able to compare the quality of schools across the nation. Mr. Watson is simply regurgitating his party’s line.

    • 1941641

      “Watson supports charter schools…” tells me all I need to know about the conservative senator.

    • 1941641

      “Watson supports charter schools…” tells me all I need to know about the conservative senator.


    Mr Watson needs to focus on bringing up the MS metrics below: and then worry about whether Common Core will lower expectations or lower their chance of success after graduation. It appears bringing MS up to the national average would be a definitive improvement.

    > State score: 71.0 (tied-4th highest)

    > State grade: C-

    > High school graduation rate: 62.2% (4th lowest)

    > Per pupil expenditure: $9,756 (14th lowest)

    Mississippi was one of three states, along with Louisiana and West
    Virginia, to receive a failing grade for K-12 achievement. Only about a
    quarter fourth-graders in the state were deemed proficient in math in
    2011, with less than 20% of eighth graders given the same distinction.
    Less than 4% of students in grades 11 or 12 received a 3 or above on an
    advanced placement exam during the year. This is the lowest rate of all
    states and much worse than the 21.9% across the U.S. In addition to
    having one of the worst set of public schools overall, the National
    Alliance for Public Charter Schools rated Mississippi as having the
    worst charter school laws in the country.

    Read more: States with the Best and Worst School Systems – 24/7 Wall St.

  • Thile

    Mr. Watson’s letter is a fine example of poor critical thinking skills-and shilling for one’s political party/paymasters. But doesn’t common core encourage critical thinking and deductive reasoning? Now you see why Watson opposes it.

    • guest

      The current Republican leadership does not want an educated populace with critical thinking skills. In their mindset if you believe it hard enough then it is fact – if you repeat it enough then it becomes true.

  • vickir1kingskid

    Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She co-authored a book, “Opening the Common Core,” and was pro Common Core and worked hard to get it in her school systems in New York!!

    She is now working just as hard to get it OUT OF HER SCHOOL SYSTEM!!!

  • vickir1kingskid

    More than 500 early childhood professionals had problems with the curriculum for younger children. The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative was signed by educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers, including many of the most prominent members of those fields. But that material was not presented to the states considering Common Core! This critique discovered that on review of the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core standards for the K-3rd grade, there were 135 people on those panels and NOT a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional!
    It appears that early childhood teachers and child development experts were excluded from the K-3 standards-writing process!

  • vickir1kingskid

    A Fast-Rising Concern
    Within 24 hours of the MSCC release, news of similar concerns in other states began to make waves, putting the newly formed group in the forefront of discussion about the controversial program across the country.

    Over half of the states in the group of states signing on to the Common Core standards have either backed out or are debating doing so.

    California, the state with the largest student population and long seen as a must-have success story for Common Core, is going through an internal debate about the possible rejection of the math standards. Texas, Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska and Virginia have rejected the standards outright. Indiana paused Common Core implementation two months ago.

    Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, Georgia and now, Mississippi, all have officials that are discussing halting implementation of the standards.

  • vickir1kingskid

    The only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee said that the math standards will place students about two years behind their counterparts in high-performing countries. An expert in English education said that English language arts standards consist of “empty skill sets (that) weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” She also suspects from her analysis of work done so far on the standards that the reading level deemed sufficient for high-school graduation will be at about the 7th-grade level. (The students will be reading such things as “manuals” and brochures as part of this curriculum! That is a fact! It has happened in other states and is part of the reason so many of them as you will see from my other post are trying to get it out of their state now!!!!)

    Yes, you read that correctly: 7th-Grade level is graduation level education under Common Core!

    Some of the commenters wanted some facts as opposed to words spoken about this newspapers stand on Common Core….well I posted some and IF anyone really wants to find out the truth about Common Core, go online and start checking out the articles from different states that have it and are now trying to get out of it….if you will click on one article you will always see another link and with each one you go to….you should become that much more alarmed about Common Core! For those of you who have accepted it into this state based on promises made from the Common Core curriculum people….do you really think they are going to tell you any problems with the program they are trying to push???? This is a FEDERALLY FUNDED program no matter what you have been told about it being state-led curriculum and there are corporations pushing it like the one Bill Gates is associated with, the Achieve Foundation, and others who will make millions off of the states through the testing material and equipment that will be forced on the states later down the line if not now! The funding the schools received after having to accept this to get that funding will be NOTHING compared to the costs the constant testing material will cost each state, ie….each TAXPAYER!!!