Mississippi Governor Bryant Joins Other Governors In Issuing Meaningless Executive Order

Mississippi - Governor Phil Bryant poses a question to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who was the guest speaker at the National Governors Association Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant issued an executive order yesterday in an attempt to ease concerns that conservatives in Mississippi has about the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Here is the nitty gritty of Executive Order 1333:

  1. The State of Mississippi and its local school districts, not the Federal Government or any other entity, shall determine the content of the academic standards and curricula for public schools in this State, with public input and comment in accordance with all applicable laws.
  2. The State of Mississippi, not the Federal Government or any other entity, shall select statewide assessments to measure student achievement under the State’s academic standards.  Local school districts may implement additional standards to measure student academic progress.
  3. The State of Mississippi is under no obligation to comply with any federal mandate that purports to require the State to maintain or utilize uniform national academic standards, curricula or assessments.  Nor, in the future, shall the State commit to maintain or utilize such standards, curricula, or assessments as a condition of federal funding or any other inducement.  Rather in accordance with applicable law, the State’s academic standards, curricula, and assessments shall be developed and adopted by the State and/or local school boards in the exercise of their own, independent judgment, which shall not be limited or compromised by any federal or other external conditions or requirements.
  4. All collection of student data by local school districts and by the State in connection with academic standards or assessments shall comply with all state and federal laws intended to protect student and family privacy.
  5. No constitutional right of Mississippi schoolchildren or their families shall be violated as a result of any mandate or condition imposed by the Federal Government on Mississippi’s public school system.
  6. Academic standards developed by the State Board of Education shall affect only K-12 public schools.  In accordance with applicable law, home schools and homeschooled children are not under the jurisdiction of the State Board or Department of Education and are not affected by the implementation of academic standards developed by the state.

On the surface this sounds good, some good red meat language in there for conservatives.  “We are going to tell the Federal government to buzz off!”  It seems to me that Governor Bryant borrowed language from Oklahoma Governor Fallin and Iowa Governor Branstad’s executive orders in crafting his own. 

The primary problem with this executive order is that it does NOTHING to change what was already done.  It gives the allusion that Mississippi developed their own standard which they did not in Math and English-Language Arts.  They may have added up to 15% to those standards, but Achieve, Inc. developed the standards not the state of Mississippi. 

The statement about data collection is pointless since FERPA has been gutted, at least Iowa Governor Branstad’s executive order specified that only aggregate-level data would be released.  It’s fine to say Mississippi’s homeschoolers won’t be impacted, but is he going to tell that to ACT and College Board when they align their college entrance exams in part because Mississippi joined with 44 other states in adopting the Common Core?

Also when Republican governors raise their fists to the Federal government I expect follow-through in the form of no longer applying for additional Federal money.  If they continue that practice they make themselves out to be liars.