Hi, friends.

Governor Phil Bryant has vetoed Senate Bill 2161 and helped us maintain a strong fight against Common Core. Our entire team at UCF would like to thank you for joining with us to sign the petition.

We’re happy to have united conservatives around the movement against Common Core. This is an example of what UCF was founded to do.

But, as the old saying goes, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” So, when it comes to Common Core, we must not stop now.

Unfortunately, Lt. Governor Reeves and others are again providing information aimed at misleading the public. Don’t fall for it.

False Claims by Lt. Governor Tate Reeves

After the veto, it didn’t take long for Lt. Governor Tate Reeves to try and make the same false claims about SB 2161 that he made when he announced to the media weeks ago that the bill “ends Common Core”. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have shown how SB 2161 manipulates legal language but accomplishes nothing.

  • False Claim #1: SB 2161 removes any participation by Mississippi in the assessment tool for Common Core, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Wrong. SB 2161 offers language that is a half-hearted feign for show. The language reads:

“Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the State Dept. of Education shall not require school districts to administer the multistate Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test or any other consortia developed test.”

Did you catch that? “Shall not require”?

That doesn’t end the PARCC assessment. It sends it underground beneath a layer of bureaucracy where people can’t see the behind the scenes arm-twisting by the Mississippi Dept. of Education and state Superintendent Carey Wright, who incidentally was at one point a PARCC board member and still is a huge supporter of Common Core.

Furthermore–and here’s where it gets tricky–the language about PARCC in SB 2161 is placed in the code section of law as it relates to graduation, not in the section related to school accountability. That leaves open the likelihood that dollars associated with merit pay and accountability measures in school districts can still be attached to a core-aligned assessment.

Give the bureaucrats credit. They know how to hide their schemes.

  • False Claim #2: SB 2161 replaces or ends Common Core standards in Mississippi.

Wrong. SB 2161 creates another layer of bureaucracy by creating a commission to review the standards and make recommendations to the Dept. of Education, of which there is no requirement that MDE even listen. Furthermore, this commission will be made up of political appointments. Wonder whose best interest they will be looking out for?

Already, the group Mississippi First has said they will be offering suggestions to the Governor and Lt. Governor of who they should appoint. This is the same group that has pushed for liberal sex education in schools, and who fought against religious groups being allowed to participate in charter school development.

Mississippi First received funding from the Gates Foundation in the amount of $98,223 in 2013. The Gates Foundation is the same group that has spent more than the GDP of most small countries to promote Common Core.

The commission created by SB 2161 also won’t allow retired teachers to participate, doing away with a key group of knowledgeable people that, it just so happens, have largely been vocal opponents of Common Core.

Statists love to use legalese to stack the deck in their favor, and that is what SB 2161 does. It leaves open the possibility of a commission stacked with supporters of Common Core, that then are empowered to look at more than math and language standards. They are empowered to review ALL standards, including science standards that could liberalize sex education in Mississippi schools. Bananas and condoms in the classroom, anyone?

No thanks.

  • False Claim #3: SB 2161 prohibits the collection of private data on students or their families.

Wrong again. 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?

Another reason to worry about data mining is through computerized testing, attendance records, test scores, grades, tardiness and a whole host of other means that separate by race and ethnicity, socio economic background and more. This is then fed into the “statewide longitudinal data system”.

Student data is analyzed by keeping track of nearly every key stroke on a computer. One educational technology software company professional says that through data-mining in education “we literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything.” He calls education “the world’s most data mineable industry by far” and brags that the data is 5-times over what giants like Google can accomplish.

The Governor’s veto was not the end of the fight. It was the beginning.

We must keep up the pressure and we must begin organizing around a strong effort to defeat Common Core completely in Mississippi. We must finish strong!

We’re not giving up. This is a fight that the bureaucrats and their friends like the Lt. Governor aren’t going to give up on easily.

Thank you again for your effort and dedication. UCF is dedicated to be here fighting this fight with you.


Keith Plunkett
UCF Director of Policy and Communication