COLUMBIA, Tenn., August 11, 2015– School is back in session, and many people are asking about Common Core. When controversial legislation is passed, rumors and misinformation swirl from both sides of the aisle, as well as, the media. This is to be expected, however, I would like to sort the truth from the misinformation.
The most important element in a Republic is an educated, informed electorate. It is important for the future of our Country, for our State and for the future of our children and grandchildren.Therefore, I want to let you know exactly what happened at the Capitol regarding HB1035 in the last General Assembly. I was actively involved in the process. With this information, you can demand the change you seek.
First and foremost, you should know that we had to fight a barrage of special interest groups to pass this bill. If it was a simple “re-branding” of Common Core, then there wouldn’t have been a fight.
Second, I have heard people saying that the new standards are exactly the same as the old ones. The new standards haven’t been written yet, so there’s no way anyone could possibly make such a claim.
Third, the language of the bill explicitly prohibits a re-branding of Common Core. The language says that once the new standards are written, the standards known as Common Core will be rescinded. Common Core is not simply a name that can be changed. It is a set of standards with hundreds of pages of guidelines. According to the new law, those guidelines will be repealed. If the guidelines are the same, but under a different name, then those guidelines would clearly violate the law.
Here are the simple facts:
• The House and Senate passed legislation replacing as well as rescinding Common Core in Tennessee when the new standards are in place.
• As passed, the bill requires the State Board of Education to cancel the “Memorandum of Understanding” that had previously been agreed upon concerning Common Core State Standards.
• In turn, the bill sets up a specific process to replace the old Common Core Standards with a new set of standards crafted solely by Tennessee education experts, parents, and teachers from across the state. Yes, it will take two years for the new standards to be written. Why? Because we wanted to be absolutely certain that these teachers, experts and parents had the opportunity to be heard on the new standards before they were passed. We didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t fix things overnight. Personally, I am thankful that it is going to take two years. This isn’t something that needs to be rushed. If it were rushed, then I would be worried about a re-brand. We want our own high standards.
• The bill emphasizes transparency and public participation, as well as House and Senate involvement as a means by which the voice of the people can and will be actively involved in the creation of these new Tennessee standards. Every Tennessean will have two (2) opportunities to comment and make recommendations on the new standards.
• Specifically, the legislation builds on efforts already in place allowing for public comment and adds a new Recommendation Committee to the process for stakeholders to share their views and ideas on what the new Tennessee-specific standards should look like.
• The new Recommendation Committee will be comprised of ten members—with four appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the Speaker of the Senate, and three appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The House and Senate have to confirm these appointees. Meaning that I am accountable to you for who gets appointed. You can view those appointments HERE.
• The legislation also calls for the final policy drafts of the Recommendation Committee to be placed back on the internet for 60 days so stakeholders, parents, teachers, and administrators will have yet another opportunity to view and address the body of work being produced before it is set up for adoption.
• Without question, this legislation rescinds and replaces Common Core in Tennessee and it does so in a transparent manner that gives the people a true voice in the process.
• It also proves that, despite what we see happening so often in Washington D.C., government actually can function in a way that addresses the concerns of the people in a productive and positive manner.
I hope that this has cleared up any confusion and misinformation surrounding the bill. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.