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BILL CRAWFORD: Lowest Common Denominators, Politicians, and Common Core

Bill Crawford

Bill Crawford

I wonder if “lowest common denominator” shows up in the Common Core State Standards?

Well, it probably shows up in the math standards since that’s how you add fractions. But it ought to be highlighted in the language standards too, since that’s the level of most political language today, particularly in Mississippi.
“Something of small intellectual content designed to appeal to a lowbrow audience” is the non-mathematical definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, e.g. Common Core State Standards are an Obama conspiracy to nationalize education, its curriculum is full of objectionable (i.e. liberal) materials, and they invade privacy.
In Mississippi, top state Republican leaders were for the standards until they were against them.  Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves just abandoned his support and joined Governor Phil Bryant (who flipped earlier) in opposition to the standards in Mississippi.
State Senator Angela Hill is one of the Tea Party champions opposing the standards.  One of her main complaints is that they were adopted by the State Board of Education, not the Mississippi Legislature. Her rampage against the standards can be seen on Facebook at “Stop Common Core – Mississippi.”
Yes, indeed, senator, it’s past time we turned our educational standards over to politicians. There’s no better way to keep Mississippi’s historic position as the nation’s lowest common denominator than to do that.
That should include the repeal of the amendment to Section 203 of the state constitution that we adopted in 1982 to create an independent State Board of Education.
“The reason we have the constitutional amendment in the first place is to keep the politicians from messing around in education according to the whim of the moment,” long-time State Senator Hob Bryan told the Associated Press. Poor Hob, he just doesn’t appreciate lowest common denominators.
The state board is made up of nine members, five appointed by the governor, including one teacher and one administrator, and two each appointed by the lieutenant governor and House speaker. This board hires the State Superintendent of Education.
“I am committed to continuing implementation of these standards,” said State Superintendent Carey Wright.
How could she and her board, a majority appointed by now Common Core foes Bryant and Reeves, not get on board the lowest common denominator bandwagon?
Well, maybe they read the Common Core web page posted by the Clinton Public School District, home of House Speaker Philip Gunn: “These standards are simply goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level….Decisions about how to teach the standards, such as curriculum, tools, materials and textbooks, continue to be made by local districts and school leaders who know their students best.”
The top-ranked district’s motto is “where excellence is the only option.”
Humpf, they probably only teach lowest common denominators in math classes.
» Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.



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About Bill Crawford


  1. Good column. Maybe a little too subtle. Need to come out and SAY that MS politicians appeal to the lowest intelligence voters. No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the MS voter.

  2. To learn why Common Core is not good for our students or our country from a pedagogical view watch this one hour teacher created video.

    This is probably the best and most thoroughly researched anti-Common Core presentation to date.

  3. Has he ever had a job where he actually worked?

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