Proposed Legislation Would End Common Core in Tennessee


New legislation has been introduced in Tennessee that would bring an end to the use of Common Core academic standards in the state.

The bill was introduced on Monday by Chairman of the Senate Government Operation Committee Mike Bell and Chairman of the Senate Education Committee Dolores Gresham in an effort to continue the improvement of all students in the state through the highest standards possible while still promoting state control of the education system.

“It is the next logical step that will take us into the future and ensure that we as Tennesseans have control over our education system,” Gresham told The Associated Press.

The Common Core are a set of standards adopted by 43 states, with the goal of giving students the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills necessary to succeed in college and professional world.

Other states have already done away with the standards, including Indiana and Oklahoma.  The Governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri have already signed legislation to end use of the standards, which are still in place in those states.

If passed, Senate Bill 4 will create a Tennessee Standards Commission and put an end to the Common Core Standards for English and math in place in the state.

The commission would be made of nine members, each serving six-year terms.  The commission would then suggest standards to be used in K-12 public schools across the state in place of the federal standards, ready to be used by the 2016-2017 school year.

In order to be considered for the position, candidates will need to go through a confirmation process and be appointed by the governor or speakers of the House of Representatives and Senate.

In a statement, Senator Gresham said, “We want to continue to be the fastest improving state in the nation, providing a model for education improvement.  As such, we need to be a leader and take the next logical step which is to use the knowledge we have learned and tailor it to Tennessee students, exerting state responsibility over education.”

Governor Bill Haslam is asking for a public review of the Common Core, hoping to salvage the standards already in use by teachers and students across Tennessee.  “To change any standards is not an automatic process … that’s going to take some time,” Haslam said.

Meanwhile, political pressure over Common Core is increasing throughout the state.  Conservative groups see them as over-reaching federal control, and teacher groups fear they rely too much on student test scores, which are often used as part of teacher evaluations.

A separate House bill was also introduced by Representative John Forgety that would require a new set of Tennessee-developed standards to be adopted by the state board of education by July 1, 2016.  The expansion of Common Core standards would not progress beyond this school year, while a team of educators reviewed a new set of standards to be referred to as “Volunteer State Standards.”

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