PETAL, MS (WDAM) - A local superintendent is under fire by a state senator for his comments regarding Common Core State Standards.
Senator Michael Watson (R- Dist. 51) posted a status to his Facebook page Monday that said a friend informed him that Petal Superintendent Dr. John Buchanan threatened faculty with their jobs if they disagreed with Common Core.
"I think common sense needs to prevail," said Buchanan. "In this case, the message was 'If you're not happy teaching Common Core State Standards, see me. Let me know. We'll try to find a place in Mississippi that is not teaching those standards."
From WDAM's coverage of Monday's meeting where rumors surfaced, Buchanan never told the audience they would be fired if they disagreed with Common Core.
"The simple fact is the standards that we are tasked to teach our students are Common Core State Standards," explained Buchanan, whose district has been teaching under Common Core since the state's 2010 adoption. "For whatever reason, it appears as though it has become a political issue. I'm not a political guy, I'm a school guy."
For people like Watson and Senator Chris McDaniel, who represents Petal, Common Core has become a political issue.
"I would just suggest that if Common Core is as good as advertised then Mississippi could adopt it without the possibility of federal funds being attached to it," said McDaniel.
Watson said Mississippi must find an alternative to its academic woes, and Common Core is not the answer.
"You take standards from states that have been proven that work that are internationally bench marked," explained Watson of his alternative to Common Core."You bring those standards to Mississippi, and you add Mississippi values."
Mississippi voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards in 2010. Many school districts like Petal immediately implemented the standards prior to the state-wide implementation this school year. Buchanan said his district is completely behind Common Core, and his comments at Monday's meeting were not intimidating rather a reiteration that he wants his teachers who are teaching these standards to be happy.
"Everybody in this district has a job to do, and I want teachers 100 percent behind what they're teaching in their classroom," said Buchanan. "We've invested a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of money, teaching these deeper more rigorous standards, and we do not want to go back."
Petal School District is ranked as the third highest performing district in the state, receiving an "A" rating for the 2012-2013 school year.