December 18, 2013 9:58:14 AM
On Tuesday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant issued an executive order on the subject of public education.
If ever there was a case of speaking much and saying little, this is it.
The executive order began:
"There is serious public concern about the reach of the federal government into state public education policy, and this order makes very clear that Mississippi and its local school districts and not the federal government are vested with the authority to define and implement public education standards. Our classrooms will not become delivery vehicles for bureaucratic federal mandates."
Thanks for clearing that up, Governor.
As far as we can determine, Bryant's executive order was intended to address a growing debate, propagated primarily by a small group of vocal tea party legislators in the state government, that Common Core is a tool of the federal government to grab control of the state's public education system. It is a belief based on what has become an almost pathological suspicion of federal government among Mississippi tea party followers.
The federal government had no role in the development of the Common Core State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind and adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory.
A total of 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, voluntarily adopted the Common Core program, whose implementation began in 2010. Mississippi's schools will fully implement Common Core for the 2014-15 school year, unless the paranoia of the few leads to a change of heart.
The Governor's executive order is an empty appeal to his tea party base.
In making his executive order, Bryant said, "We have made tremendous progress in enacting improvements in our public education system, and we will continue pursuing what works for Mississippi children."
Meanwhile, according to Education Week, Mississippi has dropped from 45th to 48th in its public education rankings during the past year. Mississippi fared particularly poorly in three categories: K-12 achievement, support capacity for teachers, and education spending.
If the Governor really wanted to make his point to the federal government about the state's sovereignty in running its schools, he should immediately return all federal funding that supports the state's public schools. Pay your own freight, make your own rules.
Obviously, he would never think of doing that. Clearly, Bryant's empty executive order is simply a means to patronize his misguided constituency.
Bryant has a bully pulpit.
It would be nice if he actually used it to say something.