Haslam: Wide-Ranging Common Core Discussion Coming Soon

Gov. Bill Haslam indicated Wednesday that he wants to have a constructive public conversation about concerns Tennesseans are having with Common Core.

But the governor reiterated that he’s committed to making sure the state doesn’t slip in its commitment to carrying forward with stricter measurements of K-12 academic performance.

“What we are not going to back up on in Tennessee is having higher standards,” he told reporters at the Capitol following a swearing in ceremony for Herb Slatery, the state’s new attorney general.

And Haslam said he still supports the controversial nationally focused education-standards system, which appears to be growing in unpopularity among Tennessee teachers. There’s also a sizable contingent of Republican lawmakers in the state’s General Assembly who’ve committed themselves to thwarting it.

“Common Core allowed Tennessee to raise their standards, which everybody thinks is a good thing,” said Haslam. “There is some disagreement about where they came from and how they originated; I think there are some misconceptions, and I also think it is a little irrelevant.”

But he also acknowledged there’s a need to address the strong current of public distrust.

Common Core, which deals with math and English, was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It’s also backed by the Obama administration and has received financial backing from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who recently called it “a very basic idea that kids should be taught what they are tested on,” and added that having every state individually develop its own standards in those areas doesn’t make much sense anymore.

Haslam said he wants to establish a policy-discussion forum on Common Core that provides “everybody a chance to have some comment on it.”

“We are trying to figure out the appropriate vehicle to do that, and we will come back to you soon with how we propose to do that across the state,” the governor said.