Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have filed two separate bills for the upcoming legislative session which would do away with Common Core educational standards and replace them with a system developed within the state. One bill would have new standards in place by the 2016-17 school year, while the other would implement new standards sooner.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell filed legislation Monday that would establish a Tennessee Standards Commission that would later recommend changes to the State Board of Education. It would also “cancel” Tennessee’s memorandum of understanding regarding Common Core standards in English language arts and math.
New standards to replace Common Core, which has phased into Tennessee classrooms for the past four years, would be ready by the 2016-17 school year.
Meanwhile, Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens, has introduced a separate House bill that would require the state board of education to adopt new Tennessee-developed standards before July 1, 2016. It would halt future Common Core expansion beyond this school year, establish teams of educators to review and recommend new standards and create what would become known as “Volunteer State Standards.”
This legislative groundswell puts Republican lawmakers at odds with Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam, himself a member of the GOP who has overseen the state’s implementation of Common Core. Haslam, who some call a potential 2016 candidate for the White House, recently did an about face and called for a public “vetting” of Common Core, via a website where citizens can voice concerns.
Haslam said he was not surprised that the legislature is considering rolling back Common Core.
“I’ve said all along: We’re here to do a full review of the standards,” Haslam said. “I don’t know how to say that any other way. The good news is people are engaging — 15,500 people have already commented on the standards. That’s great news.”
He said he’s willing to be a part of any discussion that maintains high standards and takes a “realistic view” of the current standards.
“I’ve always said it’s not about what we call the standards. Let’s talk about what the standards are. My commitment is to make certain we have the very best standards we can,” Haslam said.
Multiple bills last year failed to gain traction, but growing opposition to Common Core leaves GOP lawmakers hopeful they can defeat it this legislative sesson.