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TOSS: 114 School Superintendents, District Directors Oppose Changing Standards in Current Legislative Session

Press release from the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents; February 10, 2015:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) today released a letter to all members of the General Assembly signed by 114 Tennessee superintendents and school district directors who are asking lawmakers not to change the state’s academic standards during this legislative session.

The leaders who signed the letter represent school districts that are educating more than 850,000 students, or nearly 86 percent of public school students in Tennessee. The letter points out that in the past seven years Tennessee’s K-12 education system has undergone significant changes that have led to unprecedented progress in the quality of education that students receive. Another major change will occur in the spring of 2016, when TNready, a new statewide assessment aligned to Tennessee’s State Standards, is introduced.

“This work is paying off,” said TOSS Board Chairman Randy Frazier, Director of Weakley County Schools. “Tennessee has received national attention for historic gains in student achievement. That’s why we say to the General Assembly, please do not derail this momentum. We are asking the members to make no adjustments to Tennessee’s State Standards before we have the results of the public review process set up by the Governor and the State Board of Education. We also are asking that the implementation of TNready be allowed to proceed with no delays.”

The public review process allows Tennessee residents to review each standard for math and English language arts, to recommend whether the standard should be retained or changed, and to explain why.

“There has been unprecedented participation in the review process, especially by Tennessee teachers,” the TOSS letter says. “We ask that their input be valued and that we move forward with efforts to improve and enhance our current standards and truly make them our own, while also giving educators and students the stability they desire and deserve.”

“The superintendents who signed these letters believe the input from those closest to the classroom should be valued and more of it should be gathered through the online review,” Kingsport City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lyle Ailshie said. “We also believe that our teachers, principals, and students deserve some much-needed stability. For those reasons, we urge the General Assembly to allow the review to continue and to refrain from passing legislation this year that disrupts standards or assessment.”

TOSS represents the state’s superintendents and directors of schools and is the leading advocate organization for public education in the state of Tennessee. The TOSS mission encompasses advancing public education, promoting the work and interest of the superintendency, gathering and circulating information on general school matters, and providing pertinent information on sound education legislation to the General Assembly. TOSS also proposes and analyzes legislation that impacts local school systems.

These school district leaders signed the letter to the General Assembly:

  • Brian Bell, Alcoa City Schools
  • Larry Foster, Anderson County Schools
  • Robert Greene, Athens City Schools
  • Don Embry, Bedford County Schools
  • Mark Florence, Benton County Schools
  • Jennifer Terry, Bledsoe County Schools
  • Rob Britt, Blount County Schools
  • Dan Black, Bradford Special District
  • Gary Lilly, Bristol City Schools
  • Barbara Parker, Cannon County Schools
  • Johnny McAdams, Carroll County Schools
  • Kevin Ward, Carter County Schools
  • Stan Curtis, Cheatham County Schools
  • Troy Kilzer, Chester County Schools
  • Connie Holdway, Claiborne County Schools
  • B.J. Worthington, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools
  • Jerry Strong, Clay County Schools
  • Martin Ringstaff, Cleveland City Schools
  • Vicki Violette, Clinton City Schools
  • Manney Moore, Cocke County Schools
  • LaDonna McFall, Coffee County Schools
  • Robert Mullins, Crockett County Schools
  • Donald Andrews, Cumberland County Schools
  • Mike Latham, Dayton City Schools
  • Mark Willoughby, DeKalb County Schools
  • Danny Weeks, Dickson County Schools
  • Dwight L. Hedge, Dyer County Schools
  • Neel Durbin, Dyersburg City Schools
  • Cory Gardenhour, Elizabethton City Schools
  • James Teague, Fayette County Schools
  • Janine Wilson, Fayetteville City Schools
  • Mike Jones, Fentress County Schools
  • Rebecca Sharber, Franklin County Schools
  • David L. Snowden, Franklin Special School District
  • Eddie Pruett, Gibson County Special District
  • J.B. Smith, Giles County Schools
  • Edwin Jarnagin, Grainger County Schools
  • Vicki Kirk, Greene County Schools
  • Linda Stroud, Greeneville City Schools
  • David Dickerson, Grundy County Schools
  • Dale P. Lynch, Hamblen County Schools
  • Rick Smith, Hamilton County Schools
  • Troy Seal, Hancock County Schools
  • WarnerRoss, Hardeman County Schools
  • Michael Davis, Hardin County Schools
  • Steve Starnes, Hawkins County Schools
  • Teresa Russell, Haywood County Schools
  • Steve Wilkinson, Henderson County Schools
  • Sam Miles, Henry County Schools
  • Jerry W. Nash, Hickman County Schools
  • Cathy Harvey, Houston County Schools
  • Versie Ray Hamlett, Humboldt City Schools
  • James L. (Jimmy) Long, Humphreys County Schools
  • Pat Dillahunty, Huntingdon Special District
  • Joe Barlow, Jackson County Schools
  • Verna Ruffin, Jackson-Madison Co. Schools
  • Charles Edmonds, Jefferson County Schools
  • Mischelle Simcox, Johnson County Schools
  • Lyle Ailshie, Kingsport City Schools
  • James McIntyre, Knox County Schools
  • Sherry Darnell, Lake County Schools
  • Shawn Kimble, Lauderdale County Schools
  • Bill Heath, Lawrence County Schools
  • Scott Benson, Lebanon Special District
  • Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City Schools
  • Susan Bunch, Lexington City Schools
  • Wanda Shelton, Lincoln County Schools
  • Jason Vance, Loudon County Schools
  • Mark Griffith, Marion County Schools
  • Mike Winstead, Maryville City Schools
  • Edward (Eddie) Hickman, Maury County Schools
  • Lynn Watkins, McKenzie Special District
  • Mickey Blevins, McMinn County Schools
  • John Prince, McNairy County Schools
  • Don Roberts, Meigs County Schools
  • Jesse Register, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Mary Reel, Milan Special School District
  • Tim Blankenship, Monroe County Schools
  • Chad Moorehead, Moore County Schools
  • Edd Diden, Morgan County Schools
  • Linda Arms Gilbert, Murfreesboro City Schools
  • Steve Thompson, Newport City Schools
  • Bruce Borchers, Oak Ridge City Schools
  • Russ Davis, Obion County Schools
  • Ann Sexton, Oneida Special School District
  • Mike Brown, Paris Special School District
  • Eric Lomax, Perry County Schools
  • Diane Elder, Pickett County Schools
  • Jerry Boyd, Putnam County Schools
  • Jerry Levengood, Rhea County Schools
  • Cindy Blevins, Richard City Special District
  • Gary Aytes, Roane County Schools
  • Mike Davis, Robertson County Schools
  • Rebecca C. Isaacs, Rogersville City Schools
  • Don Odom, Rutherford County Schools
  • Bill Hall, Scott County Schools
  • Johnny G. Cordell, Sequatchie County Schools
  • Jack A. (Jackie) Parton, Sevier County Schools
  • Dorsey Hopson, Shelby Unified County Schools
  • Tony Tucker, South Carroll Special District
  • Jubal Yennie, Sullivan County Schools
  • Beth Litz, Sweetwater City Schools
  • Sandra Harper, Trenton Special School District
  • Clint Satterfield, Trousdale County Schools
  • Denise H. Brown, Unicoi County Schools
  • Jimmy Carter, Union County Schools
  • Cheryl Cole, Van Buren County Schools
  • John R. (Bobby) Cox, Warren County Schools
  • Ron Dykes, Washington County Schools
  • Gailand Grinder, Wayne County Schools
  • Randy Frazier, Weakley County Schools
  • Eric D. Williams, West Carroll Special District
  • Sandra Crouch,White County Schools
  • Donna Wright, Wilson County Schools

Gresham Reaffirms Support for Tennessee Establishing Its Own Academic Standards

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 23, 2015:

(NASHVILLE, TN), January 23, 2015 — “I reaffirm my commitment to higher academic standards through passage of Senate Bill 4 which sets our own Tennessee Standards Commission.  In order to do this, we must clear the way by severing our ties with the current Common Core Standards.”

“There is great misconception among some that when you speak of being in favor of higher standards that it only means the Common Core Standards.  I want to clear this up and assure you that this not the case.  Let there be no mistake about it, many of us who take issue with Common Core are very much in favor of having the highest standards for our students.  Upon announcing my proposal I stated, “First and foremost, this legislation is committed to the highest standards to keep our students moving forward.”

“My commitment has not changed and continues to be fostered by my conversations with teachers who tell me that having higher standards and strategies have set us on the right path.  I believe them.”

“My plan is to work with my colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives to provide that any new standards developed by the Tennessee Standards Commission would meet these high goals.”

Haslam Promises ‘Full Vetting’ of Common Core as Teachers Appear to Sour on Standards

A new survey gauging the mood of Tennessee public school educators indicates a growing number are casting a jaundiced eye toward the state’s controversial English and math standards assessment program.

The survey, conducted by Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, shows that in 2014 only 39 percent of teachers support Common Core. That’s a significant drop from the 60 percent who voiced support in 2013.

Conservative Republicans have long been aiming criticism at Common Core, which is advocated by the National Governors Association and the Obama administration. But the Vanderbilt survey would seem to indicate suspicion of the program is spreading roots across Tennessee’s political landscape.

Last week Gov. Bill Haslam indicated he favors a “full vetting” of Common Core going forward in order to “let people have a chance to talk very specifically about what they like and what they don’t like about those standards.”

“We’re going to, on a very specific basis, look at the standards,” Haslam told reporters on a conference call Thursday. The standards have been in place for four years, long enough now to have an informed discussion about what “might be lacking,” he said.

But the governor indicated that while he hasn’t yet fully analyzed the survey in detail, a cursory examination doesn’t lead him to believe the results indicate an irreversible entrenchment of opposition to Common Core among teachers. There were “several reasons” for why the teachers voiced opposition to the standards, Haslam said.

“Some of those had to do with the use of that data for evaluations, which is really a separate issue than standards; some of it had to do with the amount of testing that happens in our schools, which really has nothing to do with Common Core; and some of it is teachers saying, ‘I’m not certain these are the right standards to teach,'” Haslam said.

According to the findings of the survey, in its second year of existence and completed by about 10,000 teachers in both rounds, there was “no single, simple explanation for this shift,” though a strong connection between opposition and poor implementation of standards was apparent. Also, teachers unhappy with evaluations were found to be more likely to oppose the standards, as were teachers unhappy with their career.

However, the survey showed no apparent connection between opposition to the standards and poor student response in the classroom. Likewise, response bias was not found to be “an important factor.”

But while the survey findings support Haslam’s view that evaluations and assessments likely play a big role in teacher dissatisfaction, he still reiterated the comments made to reporters following his education summit last week — the standards need a “full vetting,” which represents a departure from his stance earlier this year: a delay in the implementation of the standards would slow the momentum of the state’s improvement.

“You hear everything from standards are too difficult to they’re too easy, and what we’re committed to doing is to get a full vetting of those standards,” Haslam said. “And then get a chance to make certain that we have the right things in place.”

AFP Protests Common Core at TN Education Summit

Press release from Americans for Prosperity – Tennessee; September 18, 2014:

NASHVILLE – A coalition of groups gathered together at Legislative Plaza to protest Common Core. An invitation-only education summit was hosted across the street during the protest. Seventy-four activists and parents showed up to urge lawmakers to repeal Common Core.

Americans for Prosperity provided support for the activists while debuting their tour bus. Currently the bus is wrapped with a Stop Common Core message; over the next three months AFP-TN will utilize the bus to promote free-market issues.

Andrew Ogles, AFP-TN state director stated: “As one of the most conservative states in the country Tennessee should take the lead in setting its own education standards, stopping the federal over-reach that is Common Core. Just like ObamaCare, Common Core is a Trojan horse for the federal government to take over state budgets.”

In addition, AFP-TN activists will be knocking on 4,000 doors across the state on Saturday to stop Common Core. Sign up at www.iamafp.com

Herron: Guv’s Education Summit will Ignore GOP’s ‘War’ on Public Education

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; September 18, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released the following statement today on the governor’s education summit in Nashville:

“Today’s education summit and its focus on Common Core is just a minor skirmish that ignores the major battles being waged by Republicans in their on-going War on Public Schools. This administration’s education policies feed fat cats while starving students and teachers. Out-of-state corporations and in-state segregation academies are pilfering, plundering, and profiting from the private pickpocketing of public funds.

“Virtual schools have been a complete failure, sending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to an out-of-state corporation while students receive one day (nine hours) a year in actual instruction. The K-12, Inc. Virtual Academy has been literally the worst performing school in the state.

“Instead of giving needs-based scholarships to tens of thousands more qualified students, or giving Tennessee’s teachers the two-percent raise he’d promised them, the state’s first billionaire governor has continued abolishing the inheritance tax on billionaires, so that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars go to rich heirs and heiresses while schools do without.

“The administration’s vaunted “Tennessee Promise” promises much but delivers little and has simply moved money from the lottery scholarship fund in a shell game while adding not a single dime in new funding for education and also hurting four-year universities.

“We should be investing in the success of our public schools, our teachers, and our students, not draining hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into private pockets. Rather than taking our students to a ‘summit’, these Republican raids on taxpayer dollars for out-of-state corporations and in-state segregation academies will take Tennessee schools down the wrong road.”

TN Education Reforms Hailed in New U.S. Chamber Report

Changes in the state’s Department of Education since the Tennessee General Assembly voted to adopt the Common Core standards for education a few years ago are being highlighted in the summer issue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce quarterly magazine, Free Enterprise.

According to the magazine, the USCoC recently completed a follow-up to their 2007 report, Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on K-12 Educational Effectiveness, which indicates a “growing problem” of a less-than-sufficiently educated and skill-prepared labor force.

But Free Enterprise notes that Tennessee has been lauded by experts for its willingness to tackle the problem, most notably by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who has praised state politicians and elected leaders for sticking to their “controversial but common sense decisions” in the face of pushback against reforms.

Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber, said in the article that the commitment to reform policies under both Gov. Bill Haslam and his predecessor, Phil Bredesen, have given Tennessee’s students “the promise of opportunity and success beyond high school.”

Interviewed for the article, Bredesen told Free Enterprise, “Education reform has got to be about picking a course of action and sticking with it over a long period of time, not just letting it flow back and forth when you get a new governor.”

Changes in the way Tennessee teaches kids in public school and measures their performance  has more and more become an area of political controversy. In particular, the nationwide effort to implement the Common Core Standards in Tennessee has over the past year created some odd bedfellows among those who’re becoming reform-weary.

The Obama administration are big fans of Common Core, as are big-name Tennessee political figures like Gov. Haslam, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and former U.S. Senator and GOP majority leader Bill Frist

On the other hand, skeptics and out-and-out opponents include both conservatives and liberals, teachers’ unions and anti-tax activists. There’s even a stand-up comedian working criticism of Common Core into his schtick. Conservatives fear that the standards complicate the ability to learn and will lead to liberally biased textbooks. On the left, there’s a worry that the curriculum and standardized evaluations will add to classroom pressures on both teachers and students, which isn’t conducive to enhancing a productive learning environment.

The Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a national non-profit conservative political advocacy group is big in to the battle here in Tennessee. The state’s AFP arm announced this week  it’d spent about $500,000 in the past six weeks “bringing the issues with Common Core to light.” AFP claims its illumination of the issues impacted outcomes in several state primary elections last week.

In its 2014 legislative session, the General Assembly passed a bill, signed by Haslam, to halt implementation of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing, and do some price-comparisons on others in the meantime. The Volunteer state will continue to use the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program — or TCAP — until the 2015-16 school year.

The state’s largest labor group that represents teachers, the Tennessee Education Association, has claimed it’s lobbying efforts this past session resulted in lawmakers delaying the testing program, which is affiliated with Common Core. The Washington Post called the TEA’s effort’s “instrumental” in passing the delay.

Rep. Glen Casada is a vocal opponent of Common Core whose positions usually don’t line up with the wishes of teachers’ unions. He, too, has claimed responsibility for putting PARCC on the back-burner, and he also hopes that in the interim lawmakers will decide to scrap it altogether.

Casada sought to play up the downsides of Common Core up as much as possible in his Williamson County district’s primary race against a local school board member, Cherie Hammond, who was generally regarded as more politically centrist than the veteran House Republican caucus chairman. Casada won handily.

Casada told TNReport this week he’s not entirely convinced the gains the state’s posted in student performance of late can be attributed in any significant way to anything having to do with Common Core. For example, given that Common Core is still more-or-less in a rollout phase, it’d be a stretch to suggest last year’s big nationwide testing gains for Tennessee touted by both Gov. Haslam and Education Secretary Duncan had a whole lot to do with it, Casada said.

The Franklin lawmaker, who isn’t facing a general election opponent, said the state’s teachers and students posted testing gains that actually appeared to have emerged during a two-year “interim period” when Tennessee public schools got out from under No Child Left Behind and before Common Core Standards were being pushed in earnest.

Casada interprets that to mean, “When no large bureaucracy was guiding what teachers do, we excelled.”

AFP: Victories Won Against Common Core in Primary

Press release from Americans for Prosperity – Tennessee; August 13, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN), a grassroots organization that advocates for economic freedom, is continuing its issue campaign on Common Core, which director Andrew Ogles said is a hot-button issue for many in the state.

(Click here to listen to the radio ad running across the state on Common Core.)

AFP- TN state director Andrew Ogles said the following:

“There’s no doubt our issue advocacy campaign to stop Common Core has made an impact. In the last six weeks we’ve spent approximately half a million dollars bringing the issues with Common Core to light, and this is just the beginning. Our support has helped bring together a broader coalition of parents, community leaders, and legislators. Together we can stop Obama’s radical education agenda and stop Common Core.”

The overall defeat of Common Core supporters this legislative cycle shows that the public is indeed opposed to this one-size-fits-all takeover of the education system. For example, the Williamson County school board saw four pro-Common Core school board candidates lose their election bid, three of them being incumbents. State Representative Glen Casada soundly defeated his pro-Common Core opponent. Meanwhile, officials who opposed Common Core remained in office.

“Moderates claimed Common Core would be a non-issue. That claim has been proven false across the state. Conservative legislators like Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Courtney Rogers were able to fend off moderates with Common Core ties,” said Ogles.

AFP-TN has been engaged in educating the public on the problems of Common Core for weeks, and plans to continue ramping up its issue advocacy efforts heading into the legislative session.

Carr or Lamar? Mindblowing Upset or Run-of-the-Mill Blowout?

Just hours before election day the GOP primary contest between incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Tea-Party-backed state Rep. Joe Carr is still a tough call. Both candidates claim the winds of momentum are blowing in their favor, and there’s fair reason to conclude at this late hour that anything can still happen.

Although a poll released last week by the Alexander campaign showed the longtime politician besting his closest opponent by more than two-to-one, Carr contended at a “Beat Lamar” rally in East Ridge over the weekend that the race is “very, very, very close.”

According to Carr, he’s recently been contacted by four members of the Tennessee General Assembly working on his behalf, who have all told him that from what they’ve seen, he’s winning, and that “two out of three voters” are in his corner.

Carr, a three-term Republican state representative from Lascassas, is challenging the political powerhouse of Alexander, a two-term U.S. Senator, former Tennessee governor, former U.S. Department of Education secretary and two-time candidate for president.

Both campaigns have touted their recent endorsements as evidence of their conservative credentials, as well as their penchant for getting things done.

Carr has recently picked up the endorsements from national Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin. Conservative commentator and radio host Laura Ingraham and has long had the support of the Beat Lamar PAC.

Alexander’s endorsements run deep. He was backed recently by two former chairmen of the American Conservative Union — Al Cardenas and David Keene. Keene is also a former president of the National Rifle Association.  Additionally, Alexander has been supported by many Republican leaders in the state, such as Gov. Bill Haslam and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.

In his criticism of Alexander, Carr has done his best to tie the incumbent to the policies of the Obama administration, such as Obamacare and immigration reform.

Much of Carr’s attack on his opponent’s Conservative credentials focused on Alexander’s support of what all seven Republican members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation called “amnesty.”

Alexander has defended his vote for the legislation, arguing that voting against the bill was really a vote for amnesty.

Meanwhile, although campaigning for a third term, Alexander has paid little attention to Carr, other than one mailer sent out in Middle Tennessee — Carr’s own turf — criticizing the state-level politician over a vote for Common Core in relation to the state applying for “Race to the Top” funds.

Carr has said that he was not proud of having made that vote, and in a interview with The Murfreesboro Post last year characterized it as “a choice between a really bad vote and a really bad vote.”

And, although Alexander has been a recent vocal critic of the Obama Administration’s handling of the immigration crisis, according to The Washington Post, Alexander said that he hasn’t heard much talk about immigration from his constituency.

“We have a chance to have a Republican majority in the United State Senate. I’d like to be a part of that majority, send a message to President Obama, fix the debt, fix our borders, return education decisions back to the states and replace Obamacare,” Alexander said to reporters Wednesday, at a campaign event in Chattanooga with Haslam and Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

Carr: Lamar Should Drop Negative Tactics, Agree to Debate

Press release from the Campaign for Joe Carr for U.S. Senate; July 30, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN– TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr released the following statement tonight in reaction to Sen. Lamar Alexander going negative and attacking Carr:

“Things must be really bad for Lamar to go negative and embrace these kind of dishonest and deceitful tactics. But if it’s a debate about Common Core he wants, I dare Lamar Alexander to stop hiding behind his negative attacks and debate me before next week’s election.”

As reported today by the Knoxville News Sentinel “with the primary just days away, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s re-election campaign is doing something it has avoided doing for months: It is finally acknowledging the existence of Republican challenger Joe Carr. Alexander’s campaign is attacking Carr by name for the first time in a flier sent to voters in several Middle Tennessee counties where Carr is presumed to have his strongest support…”

Carr added, “Talk about blatant hypocrisy – I’ve spent the last two years fighting against Common Core but when Lamar Alexander is asked about his position he says ‘let’s not talk about Common Core.’ If this is something Lamar Alexander really feels strongly about, why does he refuse to take a position? What does it say about Lamar Alexander that he’s willing to take cheap-shots at me in a flier, but won’t stand-up and debate me in person?”

The negative attack against Carr comes as Alexander continues to come under attack for comments made earlier this week while campaigning in Tennessee which has revealed a massive divide between Senator Lamar Alexander and the Tennessee Congressional Delegation. When asked about his support of the Senate’s immigration bill (S. 744) last year, Alexander replied, “I voted to end amnesty.” However, Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black, Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan Jr., Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann have been vocally forceful in their characterization of S. 744 as “amnesty.”

“This is very straight-forward, either Lamar Alexander is lying or he’s suggesting Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann are when they call S. 744 ‘amnesty’,” said TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr. “You have to wonder if Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann agree with Lamar when he says the Senate immigration bill was actually a ‘vote to end amnesty.’”

“The Senate amnesty bill is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Blackburn declared at the time. “I do not believe in amnesty and if we are going to make any changes to our system we must start by securing our borders. Any other reform effort is meaningless if we don’t start with strengthening our border security.”

Rep. Black decisively said, “There is no place for amnesty in immigration reform, period…In Congress, I was proud to be a vocal opponent of S. 744, the flawed Senate immigration bill that would have granted almost immediate legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.”

“I’m not going to vote for a bill that looks to me like it’s very similar to the [1986 amnesty] bill,” Rep. Duncan said about the S. 744. “I don’t know that Ronald Reagan would do the same thing if he was facing a problem that had become four or five times worse than it was in 1986.”

“The United States has always had a generous legal immigration policy, but we simply cannot grant amnesty to those who choose to break the law,” Rep. DesJarlais said in a statement about S. 744. “The Senate immigration proposal is the ObamaCare of immigration: A broad, comprehensive bill fraught with unintended consequences and unexpected results. I will fight to make sure this bill never reaches the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Providing a pathway to citizenship before securing the border is putting the cart before the horse. Before overhauling our nation’s immigration system, we should first ensure we are enforcing the laws that are already on the books.”

Rep. Flesichmann added, “An estimated 15 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States. I do not support rewarding these illegal immigrants with amnesty. In 1986, when legislation was passed granting general amnesty, the illegal immigrant population quadrupled.”

“I am opposed to the Senate bill because it includes a pathway to citizenship without sufficient protections to ensure our laws won’t be broken in the future,” Rep. Roe said last year. “Congress must take a transparent, incremental approach to dealing with this important issue instead of rushing through a seriously flawed piece of legislation.”

TRA, TN Conservatives Call on Lawmakers to Oppose ‘Commie’ Core

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Assembly; October 29, 2013:

(Nashville, TN October 31, 2013) — The Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA), along with other conservative leaders across the State of Tennessee, has called for Tennessee legislators to oppose the continued implementation of the Common Core Federal Mandates in Tennessee due to concerns about these Federal standards and specific concerns about $700,000 recently spent to send Tennessee school principals to China to learn teaching methods that will be applied in our local Tennessee schools.

“We are already seeing the negative effects of Common Core Federal Mandates in our schools, and now we will have thinly veiled socialist and communist agendas promoted with Tennessee tax dollars,” noted Sharon Ford, President of the Tennessee Republican Assembly.

Ford cited the recent expenditure of $700,000 in “Race to the Top” money spent through Vanderbilt University to send 18 elementary, junior high and high school principals to China as an example of wasteful spending that is fueling a destructive agenda for Tennessee schools.

“The Chinese Communist system does not value personal freedom and liberty, nor does it promote the free market system that is the backbone of American prosperity,” Ford pointed out. “China is neither as diverse nor as open to creativity and free speech as the U.S. It is not a political or cultural system we should replicate in Tennessee schools. When we see spending like this it underlines how Common Core can be called “Commie Core”.

“We will see more examples of the liberal, anti-American agenda that is at the heart of Common Core Federal Mandates as more classroom assignments and testing materials are examined,” Ford noted. “Tennessee legislators need to follow the money and demand accountability in how our education dollars are spent, particularly when we see our money being used to instill anti-American campaigns in our classrooms.”

Letter to Tennessee General Assembly

Re: Opposition to Common Core Federal Mandates in Tennessee

Dear Members of the Tennessee General Assembly:

The Tennessee Republican Assembly, along with other individuals and groups listed below, are joining with other concerned Tennesseans and national leaders and groups like the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, the California Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity, American Family Institute, the Campaign for Liberty, Concerned Women for America, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Rick Perry, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, and others. Notably Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, both Republicans, have already paused implementation of Common Core Federal Mandates in their states and Florida Governor Rick Scott and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal seem prepared to follow their lead.

There are numerous problems with the Common Core Federal Mandates, particularly here in Tennessee. Recently, $700,000 in Tennessee taxes funded through Race to the Top, was spent through Vanderbilt University to send eighteen Tennessee elementary, junior high and high school principals to China to learn how to teach the “Chinese way”. The Chinese Communist system is not one that values personal freedom and liberty, nor does it promote the free market system that is the backbone of American prosperity. China is neither as diverse nor as open to creativity and free speech as the U.S. It is not a system we should replicate in Tennessee. And some people wonder why Common Core is sometimes called Commie Core?

Support for this kind of wasteful spending and potentially harmful education “reform” scheme is simply not acceptable to most Tennesseans and we call on you our Tennessee Legislators to immediately express your opposition to Common Core Federal Mandates in clear and direct terms. This topic will be a top political issue in the next election cycle and we believe that the waste of taxpayer money on promoting the Communist Chinese education system in Tennessee will be something voters will strongly oppose.

Thank you for your service in the Legislature and we hope you will more fully investigate the truth about Common Core Federal Mandates as soon as possible.

Sharon Ford
President, Tennessee Republican Assembly

Ben Cunningham
Nashville Tea Party

Laurie Day
Education Matters

Julie West
President, Parents for Truth in Education

J. Lee Douglas
Founder, 9-12 Project

Brenda Causey
Concerned Women of America

Rachel Welch
Putnam County GOP Chair

Sherrie Orange
Secretary, Freedom PAC