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No Common Ground on Common Core: Republicans Split on Governor’s Veto

JACKSON, Miss.–The bill that might’ve helped put an end to Common Core in Mississippi was vetoed Thursday by Gov. Phil Bryant. Almost immediately news releases from conservative groups were sent out praising the governor’s decision because some believe, as does Gov. Bryant, that the bill wouldn’t have done enough to end Common Core soon enough.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves held the opposite viewpoint. Reeves, also a Republican, issued a statement in direct response, and in opposition to Bryant’s decision.

“To put this in simple terms, those that support Common Core are celebrating tonight,” said Reeves.

“Gov. Bryant’s veto of a bill that 93 Legislative Republicans supported ensures that Common Core will remain in Mississippi schools,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “SB 2161 ensured that student privacy would be protected, prohibited school districts from administering psychological or socio-emotional surveys, put in state law that PARCC test could not be mandated by the State Department of Education, and created a group of Mississippians (of which the Governor had more appointments than anyone) to create a set of high standards for Mississippi school children.”

Bryant’s reasoning on the matter is that the bill would’ve created a study committee to once again, look at Common Core. At the end of their deliberations, that committee would make recommendations to the state board of education, who would have the final say so.

“I remain firmly committed to ending Common Core in Mississippi,” said Bryant. “This bill does not accomplish that goal, and I cannot in good conscience sign it into law.”

He said in a news release that the original version of the bill would’ve required the state board to adopt at least 75 percent of what the committee recommended, but that language was taken out before the bill was passed.

“Had the Legislature maintained the original intent of Senate Bill 2161 as authored by Sen. Videt Carmichael, I would have quickly signed it into law without reservation and announced that Mississippi was ending Common Core and replacing it with standards developed by Mississippians for Mississippians.”

The United Conservative Fund, a political action committee, sent out a statement that claims Reeves’ statement was misleading and that the bill would not have ended the PARCC assessment.

The group also claims that student data can still be collected and tracked under the bill, as long as parental consent is given at the beginning of the school year:

One has to read the language of the bill and take a look at earlier versions. Initially the prohibition was on data “collected, tracked, housed, reported or shared”. That was changed in later versions of the bill to remove everything but the term “shared with the federal government without parental consent”.

The language in the section addressing private data goes on to read:

“No personally identifiable student data shall be collected for the purpose of development of commercial products or services without parental consent. No psychological or socio-emotional surveys shall be administered to students or completed by school personnel regarding a particular student without parental consent.”

So, on opening day of school, parents are handed a stack of papers and asked to sign. How many will give their “parental consent” without knowing exactly what this means? And did you notice how the word “shared” disappeared in the latter sentences of the code section related to commercial use? Is this an example of elected representatives protecting the privacy rights of people, or politicians protecting statism, bureaucracy and corporate use of data?

The Mississippi House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, but a clear solution to end Common Core, has not yet been devised. State Superintendent Dr. Cary Wright has been a supporter of the system, while Gov. Bryant has been opposed.

To the taxpayers, this could mean a cost of about $30,000 per day for a special legislative session. The governor has not said whether he will call a session yet.

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