Yesterday, it was reported that Phil Bryant declared the state's Common Core standards "failed." If your neck suddenly hurts, it's likely the whiplash from Bryant's sudden change of heart.
Two months ago, Bryant signed the funding bill for the state Department of Education which passed the Republican-led legislature without repealing Common Core. In fact, state Sen. Terry Burton (R-Newton) managed the bill and got into a heated exchange with Sen. Angela Hill (R-Picayune) about how we need to give Common Core a chance to work before pulling the plug before it has time to do some good.
So why the change? If you ask Bryant, there isn't a change. Still, he calls the policy "failed," but his position hasn't changed. I don't know about you, but that's some mighty confusing- and carefully selected - language. It seems more likely that Bryant is giving himself some wiggle room depending on what happens next week in the Republican runoff for the US Senate.
Should McDaniel win the runoff, Bryant is in a better position to declare "the people have spoken and it's time to repeal Common Core." Repealing Common Core could lead to cuts in federal funding for our state's education system. But wait! What about all that federal money Thad Cochran, Haley Barbour, and the GOP establishment have declared critical for Mississippi's survival? For the past three weeks, the Barbour wing of the state GOP has begged Republican and Democratic voters to help return Cochran to the US Senate so he can maximize the state's share of federal funds. If Cochran wins, Bryant can say "let's give it some time to work through the process" and breathe a little bit easier knowing that he won't have to sign a bill into law cutting funding for public education, which remains greatly underfunded.
For all the perceptions of Bryant having firm policy positions, it looks more like we are trying to nail jello to a wall. Charlie Ross had it right in 2007: flip flop Phil Bryant.