After several weeks of hearing different views on the Common Core standards initiative, the Bradley County Commission's education committee decided to make a recommendation to state legislators against implementing Common Core.
Jeff Yarber from District 5 said, “No one will say (Common Core) is a great thing.” He pointed out that everyone liked certain parts but not necessarily the entire package. “Everyone has reservations, everyone has concerns...It's easier to put the brakes on now.”
Connie Wilson of District 2 said, “I would hate for us to throw all of it out when some of it works.”
Mr. Yarber said that the state should utilize the “good” parts of Common Core, but adapt them in a system that works for Tennessee. He said he is against any kind of “one-size fits all” program, and that local government should be able to decide what works best for local schools. He said, “You can't teach people in California the way you teach people in Tennessee. We can put together a program in Bradley County that fits Bradley County.”
For example, Vice Chairman Adam Lowe pointed out that in Bradley County not everyone wants Darwinism and Global Warming as the standards their children are to be tested on.
Jeff Morelock of District 3 said that new standards would not be a bad thing; he told of past scholarship recipients who did not know how to write and format a thank you letter.
Terry Caywood, from District 1, said many states are implementing Common Core because of the federal grant money that comes with it. Vice Chairman Lowe said Tennessee is currently in a unique position on this because of a waiver from the Obama administration to the No Child Left Behind Act. The waiver is giving the state a $4.3 billion grant for education, and the only requirement is that the Tennessee state legislature declare a system. There is, of course, pressure from the federal government to choose and implement Common Core, but as this is not specified in the waiver, Tennessee legislators are free to develop their own system and still receive the grant, he said.
Mr. Lowe said, “Our state legislature is going to take that up in the context of that grant if we want Common Core to be our standard.”
Immediately after the education committee meeting, in the meeting of the Bradley County Commission, a motion was also made to express to the school board and state legislators their opposition to tying teaching licensure to test scores.
Mr. Lowe said that for other professions, such as medicine and law, gross negligence was required for the state to take away a license. The committee agreed that teachers should be better protected. Commissioner Yarber said, “We have concerns about this ideology and we're asking the legislature to take action.”
The commission agreed that alone, students' low test scores should not be enough of a basis to take a license from a teacher.