Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, recently made it clear he wants to kick common core standards out of Louisiana. Almost immediately Mississippi’s own free thinking governor, Phil Bryant, followed suit by stating, “I think Common Core is a failed program, and the United States is beginning to realize that. Governors all across America are realizing states can do it better.” Really? Mississippi became a state in 1817, and in the 197 years since Mississippi gained statehood, I would like Governor Bryant to tell the people of Mississippi when education has ever been a priority and when education has ever been done better than what is currently happening through the hard work and dedication of teachers across the state who are working to implement common core standards? How does Governor Bryant know common core is a failed program? Is it a failed program because he wants it to fail, or is it a failed program because that is the direction he believes current political winds are blowing? Either way, as governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant should be ashamed of his lack of support for common core standards, which equates to lack of support for the teachers and children of the state.
In fact, all politicians opposing common core standards should be ashamed of themselves. They are not opposing the standards based on hard evidence that the standards are not the right thing to do or will damage children. They are simply opportunists riding on the coattails of big government phobia, doomsday preppers, and ignorance that are currently strangling this nation, and they are doing it for personal and political gain not for the good of the state of Mississippi as they would have people believe. Their finger pointing, fear mongering, and chest beating are nothing more than a smoke screen for backroom and backwoods politics.
Parents opposing the standards should be ashamed for listening to the political doublespeak of politicians more interested in votes than the truth. They have been so filled with misinformation that they are more concerned with the possibility of big government meddling in their affairs than they are about what and how their children are being taught. They are okay with the old sub-standard status quo as long as the government stays out of the picture, but ironically many of these same individuals are pro charter schools and vouchers, which are directly tied to government at both the state and federal levels. What is the deal? Mark Twain said people get upset with things they know nothing about, and that appears to be the case for many parents who oppose the common core standards.
As for the teachers and former teachers who oppose common core standards, they should also be ashamed. They should know better than to get into bed with politicians who have at best only marginally supported them over the years. It is hard to believe there are teachers in a country built on freedom of speech and independent thinking who would choose a teacher centered system where a child is told what he or she needs to know, believe, and think over education standards that advocate teachers as facilitators of learning who encourage children to explore and think for themselves rather than be told how to think. Like the parents, these teachers are not bad people, but they are blind to the realities of the world in which we live. Today’s children are not the children of 20, 25, or 30 years ago, and any teacher worth his or her salt understands that a teacher cannot teach children the same way as they did 20 years ago. The old “feed and regurgitate” method of teaching does not work in today’s world! In a society where knowledge is doubling every twelve months, children can no longer get by as passive learners depending on rote memory as past generations have done. If Mississippi children are to compete nationally and globally, they will need to be critical thinkers and have a conceptual understanding of the world in which they live and work.
Finally, as a state ranked number 51 out of 51 in education performance, the people of Mississippi should be ashamed for even being entangled in a fight to implement common core standards. Mississippi has experienced fully the impact of the alternative choice, and it has taken the state straight to the bottom. Therefore, why not embrace common core standards and give Mississippi children a fair chance to rise to the top where they belong? Besides, Mississippi politicians have 197 years of proof behind them that when it comes to education, they do not know what is best for the state’s children, so why not support common core standards and give our children a chance they have never had? The common core standards are the best hope for Mississippi children to get on an educationally level playing field with the rest of the nation. Mississippi adults should be ashamed if they deny them that chance.
©Jack Linton, June 21, 2014