Mississippi’s Need for the Common Core

by Caroline Brandon

I recently came across an article responding to Governor Phil Bryant’s belief that legislators should be responsible for creating and enforcing standards and curricula in education. As most of you are aware, being in the Millsaps “bubble” can negatively affect our exposure to news in the surrounding area and state. Bryant’s opinion greatly irks me, primarily because the majority of our state legislators possess no experience in education.

As an English major, I have always considered teaching as a career option. Thus, I was particularly disturbed that he thinks the state should place educational standards and curricula in the hands of those unacquainted with education, particularly in Mississippi.

I know there has been a significant amount of backlash in regards to the Common Core Standards, but ultimately the Common Core standards aim to create a system in which students all receive uniform educations­—which is important in Mississippi, a state that has historically performed poorly on standardized tests and does not compare well with other states’ achievement levels.

It is essential for our state to not only continue raising the standards and expectations of student achievement but also teacher achievement. The Common Core standards involve changing many approaches to teaching. The Common Core places more emphasis on understanding material and using it effectively, rather than just simple fact memorization.

For most of us at Millsaps, this seems relatively intuitive. After all, our college’s core curriculum focuses on the same principles of understanding and utilizing the information we have gathered. However, I think this proves to be a daunting task for many Mississippians.

Teachers need proper professional development support in order to effectively transition their teaching style to fit with the Common Core Standards. Ultimately, I understand many of the hesitations about the Common Core. No system can ever be perfect. However, that is not a reason to give up on implementing a new system. It takes time to properly adjust and see the results. The only way the state of Mississippi—and the nation at large—will achieve this is by setting high expectations for students and educators.

To learn more about the debate and Governor Bryant’s comments, click here.