Mississippi principal Shannon Eubanks is fed up with the politics that don’t take his school’s day-to-day demands into consideration. In
a Q-and-A published in The Hechinger Report, Eubanks points to the too-quick implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the fact that the state is frequently changing standards, and, perhaps most frustratingly, the way
politics are driving these changes.
Q: After the lieutenant governor and governor both spoke out against the standards last week, some say their comments were purely political. What do you think? A: Four years ago the governor, the lieutenant governor and all the legislature were all for it. What happened is because we have an election year next year, there is a concern that there is going to be a push from the right that is going to cause them to lose office … Nothing in Common Core has changed over the last six months when the governor and lieutenant governor supported it. The only thing that changed was our U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran almost got beat by a Tea Party challenger and that has scared them. They are terrified and they’re running hard right on education.
Q: If the state does abandon the standards to create their own, how will this affect schools directly? A: I’m not a big proponent of changing horses in the middle of the stream, and that’s what we’re doing. We’ve been under Common Core for basically two years…This is the first year that it’s fully Common Core because the tests are supposed to align to the standards. If we were to change, it’s (going to be) chaos. What are the teachers supposed to teach? The old Mississippi curriculum standards, or are they supposed to stick with the Common Core standards until they get something else?
If the state changes course halfway through implementation, it will be the students who lose out, says Eubanks.
Q: How would this affect your students? A: You’re going to have kids that are left behind. There are already kids that have gaps because they are going from one set of standards to the other. The best way to implement it is over time. What’s going to happen is with all the changes, you’re going to leave some students lost and confused and frustrated.
Valentina Payne joined Bellwether Education Partners in 2021 as chief of staff to Andy Rotherham on the External Relations team. Prior to Bellwether, she spent seven years at brightbeam, where she most recently served as its chief growth officer, overseeing operations, finance, fundraising, and strategic growth of the organization.