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Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

Mississippi Governor Has It Wrong: State Control Over Standards Is Not a Myth

Over four years after Mississippi adopted Common Core State Standards, and almost three years after he was sworn into office as Mississippi governor, Phil Bryant joins the ranks of Governors Jindal, Walker and Falin and reneges his support for Common Core. Bryant attempts to defend his flip-flop on the false premise that federal requirements and dictates have undercut state and local control and decision-making over the standards. Governor Bryant attempts to supports his claim by saying:
Now in 2014, we know something went terribly wrong. State control over the standards turned out to be a myth, and adopting the standards has been required if a state wants to even apply for major federal education funding. So much for no federal control.
This isn’t the only aspect of his argument that is just plain false—as we point out over on our Red Pen Page. But to be clear about the federal role over the last five years, there is not a single federal funding stream or USDOE federal competitive grant that required or requires states to adopt the Common Core. It’s true that states received points in the 2010 Race to the Top competition if they had adopted high-quality college-and career-ready standards held in common by a majority of states (40 out of a total of 500 points). And it’s true that adopting Common Core was one way—but not the only way—states could demonstrate they had college-and career-ready standards for ESEA flexibility waivers. But states could have and did apply to Race to the Top and Waivers without adopting Common Core. Let’s be clear: States continue, by law, to have control over their state standards (ask anyone in Oklahoma, Texas or Indiana) and tests (ask anyone in Tennessee, Georgia or Florida). Governor Bryant is free to change his mind, but he should make sure he has all his facts straight before undermining more than four years of hard work by Mississippi educators.  
Ann Whalen
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post. Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to ...

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