POINT/COUNTERPOINT – Common Core: What is it?

Point – Ed Holliday

Is there more to Common Core than just raising the standards for educating our children? Forty-five states including Mississippi have adopted Common Core standards. Former governors Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour like it, but I have many questions.

The most important thing all citizens can do at this time is to study Common Core and learn everything you can about it. Find out how it evolved, how it became adopted, how it is funded, and who stands to make mega dollars as it begins to expand to include all public, private, and home schools. There are many things within Common Core that greatly concern me.

First, is the fact that proponents claim local school boards keep control. But when you read the details you discover that material used other than the mandated curriculum can not exceed 15 percent. Federal funding can be withheld for failure to adhere to all the rules. Is this really local control?

Second, the Common Core courses were not even written when the states signed on during the depth of the past recession to get the easy federal dollars. How much will Common Core cost the taxpayers in the future? Has anyone even estimated the costs? These standards have never been vetted – anywhere! In creating the standards some of the classroom teacher representatives refused to sign off – but their voices were ignored. Why?

Third, where are all my liberal friends when it comes to standing up for privacy rights of our children? There was a time that liberals would go ballistic when the government wanted to know too much. Common Core forces the collection of so much data that our teachers in the classrooms might find themselves overwhelmed by having to upload volumes of data about each child and their families including religious affiliation. Will the private companies promoting Common Core have access to all this data on our children from kindergarten through college? Will this information be used by the National Security Agency, the FBI or law enforcement? My point is parents and taxpayers need answers now about many questions concerning Common Core.

Counterpoint – James Hull

According to the Mississippi Department of Education’s website, the Common Core Standards establish “a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics.” Science and Social Studies standards have yet to be developed.

The fact that our standards are the same for students in 44 other states can only be a good thing. Education should be portable, and the fact that a student’s educational level in Mississippi can be comparable to a student’s in Rhode Island,

Wyoming or Washington State can only mean one thing: the Mississippi student’s proficiency levels are rising.

Let me briefly digress: Two governors ago, there was a push to bring up Mississippi teachers’ pay to at least the southeastern average. Three governors later, we are still nearly $7,000 short. Then came the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), which was supposed to provide comparable funding to poorer school districts as opposed to wealthier ones. MAEP is yet to be fully funded. In fact, despite the state’s economic woes, there were several opportunities for Gov.

Haley Barbour to lead the charge to fully fund MAEP, but he successfully led the effort to undermine the process.

The point being, Mississippi has given only a half-hearted commitment to education.

Since Common Core curriculum discussions began more than 15 years ago, I have followed the debate with great interest. Granted, some of the criticisms are valid, unfortunately, they are premature. Most states have only been under the standards for less than three years. The 2014-2015 school year will be Mississippi’s first year to be tested on the Common Core, so it’s much too soon to determine whether those criticisms will actually have merit.

It is interesting to note that when the Common Core Standards were adopted and supported by the country’s governors in 2010, Mississippi’s governor was hardly some liberal Democrat, it was Gov. Haley Barbour.

Allow me a final note, please – two words, actually – regarding all the data collection related to Common Core: Statistical Analysis. It’s the only way to determine where, how and with whom the standards are working.

DR. ED HOLLIDAY is a Tupelo dentist who has written two successful books. Contact him at ed@teaparty.ms. REV. JAMES HULL is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at hullmultimediams@aol.com.

  • charlie

    It would appear that Mr. Holliday has the typical repub attitude toward education, I’ll educate my child, preferably with tax payers money at a private “charter” school and could care less about any other children. The repubs give great lip service for education but do very little to finance it. Mississippi has been at or near the bottom of education ranks and “per student expenditure”. Apparently there is a connection related to cost that the repubs won’t acknowledge,