At an education policy conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam lumped opposition to the much-maligned Common Core State Standards Initiative in with the resistance to education reform in general.
But unlike the successful efforts of the Republican governor and the GOP-run General Assembly to overhaul teacher evaluation and tenure-achievement processes — while at the same time rolling back the power of the state’s largest teachers union — attacks against Common Core are coming, politically, from all over the place.
Haslam, who was delivering a keynote speech for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-organized event, told the audience that hearings on Tennessee’s Common Core standards scheduled in the state Senate Education Committee for Thursday and Friday will likely give voice to committed critics who’re often at odds on many issues.
“They’ve brought in folks to testify on both sides — and it will be a real battle,” said Haslam. “It’s just one of these interesting political deals where you have folks on the far right, who, you heard they’re kind of, well, it’s ‘Obamacore,’ and all the things — the kind of stories that are out there about what Common Core is.
“And then you have folks on the far left that don’t like the fact that teachers’ evaluations are being tied to students’ test scores,” continued Haslam. “And so you have this fairly unique push coming from both ends.”
Haslam, whose administration has been a staunch supporter of the new Common Core standards, said he believes “things will work out well” for the program.
“But it is no small challenge at all in our state, and I think other states as well,” Haslam said. “I’ve had this conversation with other folks. Interestingly for us, it’s like a lot of political things, there are hot pockets, and there are certain areas in our state, and certain areas around the country, that have a very organized resistance to it, and their legislators hear about it every day. Other folks don’t have quite the passion about it.”
Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”