Conservative group questions Common Core costs
By Emily Le Coz | Clarion Ledger | July 23, 2013
Conservative lawmakers this week blasted the Common Core standards that will be introduced to every publicly educated Mississippi student when school resumes in August as poorly conceived, highly expensive and racially biased.
But state Department of Education officials dismissed those concerns as misinformed at best and political posturing at worst. They say Common Core sets rigorous standards, is comparatively less expensive than the assessment now in use when other costs are factored in, and is a means to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
In a news release, the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition said its members had serious concerns about the national standards adopted by 45 states, including Mississippi, and urged caution before proceeding with a full implementation.
Chief complaints include the federal government's meddling in state affairs, lower educational standards, higher-than-expected testing costs and lower achievement goals for some minority students. They also noted other states have pulled out of the Common Core testing consortia and hinted Mississippi might want to follow suit.
"Every day we're seeing more things that are troubling," said Sen. Melanie Soujourner, R-Natchez. "We wish we could put the brakes on this now, because it makes no sense to do this and then come back next year and say this whole thing isn't going to work."
The Common Core is a set of K-12 academic standards created by the nonprofit group Achieve Inc. and supported by the National Governors Association and the Council for Chief State School Officers. It sets clear and rigorous objectives for learning with the goal of preparing students for college or careers, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website.
Although not mandated, Common Core has been adopted by almost every state to replace the patchwork of individual standards and assessments required under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.
Mississippi's Board of Education adopted Common Core in 2010, but school districts have had until this upcoming academic year to implement it. Testing will start next academic year.