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Debate Over Common Core Standards Continues

By Sandra Knispel | Published 04 Nov 2013 02:06pm | comments
Teachers and administrators learn new approaches to teaching at the Lt. Gov.'s education summit in Tupelo last week.

While schools across Mississippi and 44 other states have officially started to work with the Common Core Standards this year, the public debate over them continues to rage on.

After two years of slowly weaving the Common Core Standards into the curriculum and officially full-force since August, Angie Quinn, director of instruction for the Pontotoc City school district, is cautiously optimistic for her teachers.

 “We feel like we have some spots of success and those who are more frustrated are looking to those for guidance,” Quinn said.

At a recent Education Symposium in Tupelo, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves admitted that raising the bar isn’t all smooth sailing. Already some parents are complaining that their children are experiencing difficulties, especially with the new math standards.

“You are going to continue to hear stories of kids who perhaps had not struggled in the past [but] that are struggling now. That’s because we are raising the standards, we are making it more difficult. I’m convinced that over time Mississippi kids will rise up and meet those increased level of expectations,” Reeves said.

Critics have been vocal – and Reeves has not just been hearing from the political opposition on the left but also from members of his own Republican Party – some of whom are now trying to pause the standard’s implementation.

“But that’s what we’ve got to continue to do if we are going to compete with people all over the world in a global economy. We’ve got to have our kids do better and improve our educational attainment level. That’s a goal that I hope all of us share,” Reeves said.

The conference’s keynote speaker, President Ronald Reagan’s former U.S. Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett, says he considers the new standards a mixed blessing:

"The Common Core is a very mixed bag, by the way. One needs to say this. I thought the English Language Arts standards were pretty good, quite good," Bennett explained. "The math I thought was pretty good. Science -- I don’t have a good feeling about and Social Studies – god knows what that’s going to be. So it’s not as if there is this wonderful golden bowl of fruit and we’re just not enjoying it. It’s a very mixed -- some of this stuff is good, some of it isn’t.”

Ultimately though, Bennett says, he’s not sure they will survive even the vicious politicking.

“The doubts have to do with the political turmoil that’s come about as a result of this debate, which may make it impossible to implement these either to general satisfaction or achieve the academic goals. Either the dust settles and it gets quiet and we have a reasonable discussion of this or we look for alternatives."

Only time will tell if the standards are here to stay, or prove merely a blimp on the educational horizon. Sandra Knispel, MPB News.

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Teachers and administrators learn new approaches to teaching at the Lt. Gov.'s education summit in Tupelo last week.


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