Haslam Defends Common Core

With pressure from some Tennessee conservatives mounting against Common Core school standards, Gov. Bill Haslam says he is standing strong in his decision to implement them in the state.

During a press conference Tuesday, Haslam told reporters that he believes joining 44 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the federal classroom benchmarks will help Tennessee stay economically competitive.

“I feel strongly in this sense: Common Core is about raising the standards and defining the standards so that everybody knows what a third grader should be able to do in math or an eighth grader,” said the Republican governor.

“The most common thing I hear — I’ve talked to five different businesses, literally, in the last week and every one of the them is saying the same thing: ‘We love being here but the prepared workforce that we need is lacking,” Haslam continued. “And that doesn’t just start when you get out of school, it obviously starts earlier and I think part of that is we make certain our third graders are learning the math they need to so that ten years from now these companies aren’t saying ‘we don’t have the workforce that we need.’”

But the new standards, which include various grade-level expectations in math and English, have drawn fierce opposition from some parents and conservative activists in the state. And some high-visibility Republican politicians are increasingly turning their backs on the proposed changes.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais from Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District voiced full-throated disapproval of Common Core implementation. A press release from DesJarlais’s office called the standards “watered down” and “bad policy, implemented unfairly, that achieves mediocrity at the expense of states’ sovereignty and local control.”

There have also been murmurings of disapproval amongst conservative legislators on the state level, too.

Reached by phone Tuesday, state House GOP Caucus Chair Glen Casada told TNReport that many of his members have expressed concern and have “a lot of questions.”

The Franklin lawmaker said it’s too early to comment on specific measures the General Assembly might take next year, but indicated he’s looking for the Haslam administration to provide empirical data that Common Core standards will be beneficial for students and not “just another fad that’s come down the pike.”

Concerns and questions aside, the governor appears to be moving forward with the implementations process. According to a Department of Education press release from June 18, the administration is launching a large-scale, voluntary teacher training program on the new standards and over 32,000 state teachers have signed up.

The release quotes Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, a Haslam appointee, saying, “The scale of this training marks an unprecedented commitment to equip students with the critical thinking skills necessary to compete. We are dedicated to giving our teachers the support they need to drive toward excellence during this transition.”

  • TNACC (K. Bracken)

    All we hear is empty rhetoric from these people. Not one person has yet to tell us HOW COMMON CORE is going to make Tennessee economically sound. The EXPERTS (which does not include Haslam or Huffman) that were on the validation committee for approving the standards refuse to sign off because they WERE NOT internationally benchmarked or researched based. these standards WERE NEVER tested ANYWHERE. We bypassed real tested, proven standards for the unknown and a BIG FAT CHECK from the federal government. I think we should be listening to what the real education experts say not a bunch of empty suit politicians that are looking at the MONEY not what is truly good for our children. And Common Core IS NOT GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN. Politicians LIE, LIE and LIE again in order to push THEIR agenda on the tax payer. NOTE TO MR. HASLAM. The people of Tennessee hope you will enjoy retirement. You are done in Tennessee!! Mr. Casada, don’t hold your breath waiting for the empirical data. THERE IS NONE!!!! NONE!!!!! NONE!!!! We are being fed a bunch of empty rhetoric and lies and we have proven time after time but it is apparent most of our elected officials are not really interested in the facts or the truth. Mr. Haslam has insulted the intelligence of the people of Tennesse for the very last time. If Haslam continues to stand with Common Core he will not be in office after the next election. And neither will any legislator that stands with Common Core…..you too will not be elected again. Common Core IS THE ISSUE next year and it will take down our elected officials that stand with their campaign contributors and pressure from GOP leadership instead of the people that put them in office. GOP leadership cannot take you out of office but WE THE PEOPLE can and we will.

  • ajbruno14

    Could the paper be kind enough to pass the following along to Gov. Haslam
    for it offers an understanding about Common Core proponents refuse to acknowledge.
    Thanks,

    Anthony Bruno
    Cary, NCajbruno14 gmail

    Gov.
    Haslam,

    As one of more than a dozen Republican governors supporting Common Core

    I urge you to learn more about why there is a growing demand this national
    standard be rejected and each state design its own standard using factors
    that include the uniqueness of each state and the desires of its students, not

    an untested “one size fits all” alternative with little if any local involvement.

    You need look no further than the Affordable Care Act to see the damage an
    untested national initiative can have on the states.

    The enthusiasm for Common Core was understandable, as it was presented
    as the panacea for public education, with the promise to improve student performance with a more rigorous curriculum so American students would be ready for college or a career, and our country would remain globally competitive.

    As comforting as this sounded, the developers had no idea if Common Core would deliver what was promised. The standard was never tested before being sent to the forty five states that eagerly adopted it.

    Its development itself was troubling. Despite being told states participated, the primary source of content came from an independent and unaccountable

    consortium which also owns the licenses and copyrights, not the states which
    the public was made to believe were in a true partnership.

    You may already know why so many states quickly adopted Common Core. But, if not it was due to the power of the purse, using the threat of loss of Federal funds for “Race to the Top” program to coerce cash strapped states to agree to implement it.

    This was done without the involvement of most state legislatures, the only elected bodies accountable to the public and must find the money for the future costs Common Core will require.

    You also may be unfamiliar with the Common Core Validation Committee, the body assembled to evaluate the standard, consisting of twenty nine members, unknown to the public and sworn to secrecy to what transpired in their meetings.

    Five of them refused to sign off on the standard, and two members, the only experts in math and English which are currently being implemented, said the standard was not acceptable, yet their concerns were omitted from the final report.

    By all appearances, the Validation Committee was designed to be “rubber stamp”, not an honest assessment body to critically evaluate Common Core. This should trouble any public official with the responsibility of educating our children.

    You should insist their criticism be made available so the public will know of the

    problems which were not aired.

    We are now four years into this national ‘experiment’ and learning it has not
    delivered as promised.

    Parents have seen first hand the damage of Common Core, as their children have been introduced to assignments well beyond their years. This may be called “rigor”, but it provides no comfort to parents seeing their younger children shut down and many not even want to go to school.

    Worse, the increase in the number of children failing. Dropout rates were high before Common Core, so we can expect them to increase dramatically and tens of millions of dollars needed for remedial education.

    We have also seen “education” mean excessive testing, at three times the cost of non-Common Core testing. Again, an omission by the developers.

    We have heard professional educators challenge the content and even told teachers were being threatened for publicly criticizing Common Core.

    Additionally, the total cost of Common Core has yet to be mentioned. Estimates range from $16-20 billion for the standard to be fully implemented, money which will be paid to “select” businesses chosen by the CCSSO consortium, many them enthusiastic sponsors of Common Core.

    One final comment. Throughout the country grass roots groups have been rallying to get their states to revisit the decision to adopt Common Core. I suggest you take the initiative to contact the professionals who understand the problems. You will find them at conservative think tanks as well as teacher unions as this is not a partisan issue.

    Respectfully,
    Anthony Bruno
    Cary, NC

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