By Keith Plunkett | MississippiPep.com
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves election year political attempts to claim part of “his” agenda in the Mississippi Senate was successful, to end Common Core, continues to be dismissed by those on both sides of the issue.
Immediately following passage of SB 2161, the bill Reeves claimed ended Common Core, state Supt. Carey Wright was quoted as saying the bill did nothing to stop the federally mandated curriculum, and last week the MS Dept of Education began the process of reapplying for the ESEA waiver for the next three years. The ESEA waiver is handed out by the federal government with the stipulation that MDE must institute Common Core.
The Mississippi Senate has wisely backed away from insisting that the state Board of Education adopt educational standards to be developed by a 27-member board created by the Legislature.
On a 17-13 vote the Senate defeated a Tea-Party supported proposal that would have prevented the state board from continuing with the Common Core academic standards, called the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards.
Common Core opposition on social media have also disputed the claims the bill ends Common Core. These opponents showed massive support for the defeated amendment.
“With this bill, we can end Common Core, we can end our connection to PARCC, and we can draft our own strong standards for the classroom,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said in a Feb 12 statement. “I am proud the Senate passed the only bill that can lead to the end of Common Core, and I appreciate the 28 Republicans and three Democrats that joined us to make that happen.”
Regardless of where one falls on the issue of Common Core, the level of disrespect Reeves has shown the Mississippi voters is breathtaking.
Reeves was for Common Core, even holding a rally in support of it in 2013, until he realized the political winds were blowing in a different direction. He thought browbeating the support of some of the members of the Conservative Coalition would gain him some political points with the anti-Common Core crowd, announcing some of the Senators had signed a letter “endorsing” him.
But the parents and educators who fight Common Core are not so easily toyed with. Sen. Angela Hill has toured the state publicly condemning Common Core for over a year, yet her willingness to endorse Reeves has done nothing to turn the tide against the bill he claims defeated Common Core. In fact, it is Hill who is now fighting to explain her support of Reeves and this shell game.
Common Core is easily the hottest issue in conservative politics in Mississippi in the past year. That Reeves would attempt to gain politically from it is really no surprise. That there are those who thought they could raise their own political capital by playing the game comes as little surprise either.
However, the fact that any of them thought they could use it to their advantage without actually doing what they said they would do shows a level of ego and ambition that made them blind to reality.
Now, what Reeves obviously had hoped would quiet calls for a challenger, have only made the chorus louder.
Political games don’t work as well when people refuse to be played as fools, and the opponents of Common Core know this issue inside-out.
Reeves and the others caught up in this are playing an old game. But the rules changed a long time ago. Political personalities aren’t so important when people are tuned in to issues. As I have written about Reeves, the same holds true for others. The people welcome a statement of support. But actions must align.
It’s a new order in conservative politics in Mississippi. Principles matter. The sooner politicians recognize that the better.
Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett