Alexander Votes To Defend States’ Rights On Common Core Education Standards

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Wednesday defended states’ rights on common core education standards when he voted against requiring states to obtain approval from the U.S. secretary of education on their education standards and tests.

Referring to the Democratic education bill, the subject of today’s committee meeting, Senator Alexander said, “If your proposal passed, and the state of Tennessee – which adopted the ‘common core’ standards before the secretary ever included it in Race to the Top or anything else, and even helped write the standards – then wanted to change its standards, it would have to amend its state plan, send it to the secretary, he’d peer-review it, and he could approve it or disapprove it. That’s my objection. That transfers authority to Washington from the states.

“And the history of the last ten years, in both Republican and Democratic administrations, has been of well-intended education secretaries and their assistants establishing, quote, ‘parameters,’ and saying to the governor of Tennessee, or wherever: ‘We know more than you do about standards and tests, and unless you agree with us, we won’t approve your plan.’ So, if I go back to Tennessee and someone says to me, ‘Did you vote to deny the right of Tennessee to change its common core standards without the approval of the secretary of education in Washington?,’ I’m going to say, No: I voted to give Tennessee the freedom to write its own standards and tests without having to ask Washington for permission.”

Senator Alexander then voted in favor of an amendment he cosponsored, offered by fellow committee member, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), to allow states, not Washington, to define high standards and tests for students in reading, math, and science, prohibiting the U.S. secretary of education from specifying, defining or prescribing the standards or measures that states or school districts use to establish, implement or improve standards and tests, as well as prohibit the secretary from requiring or coercing states or local districts to adopt common standards, tests, or accountability systems. The amendment was rejected by the committee on a party-line vote, 10-12.

Senator Alexander said “Common core” standards "are the result of a state-led effort, driven by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and were meant to be a set of standards states could voluntarily adopt to improve their K-12 schools. The U.S. secretary of education has since required states to adopt the standards as a condition of obtaining a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements that states are increasingly finding to be cumbersome." 

An official of the Department of Education disputed that statement, saying, "There is no such requirement from Secretary Duncan or the Department related to state requests for waivers from No Child Left Behind."  

Earlier in Wednesday’s markup, Senator Alexander offered a proposal to fix No Child Left Behind, saying, “what we’re trying to do is free the states to help children in 100,000 schools meet their needs in individual ways…the real difference is whether we think the responsibility is here in Washington or at home—we believe it’s at home.” Senator Alexander, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, offered the proposal as an alternative to the Democratic proposal.



Hixson Middle Band Dinner Set For Tuesday

The Hixson Middle School Band will be hosting a pasta dinner this Tuesday in the middle school cafeteria from 6-8 p.m. Dinners are $10. Everyone is invited and walk-ins are welcome as well.  "Please come out and support your local Hixson Middle School Band," organizers said. Contact Hans Rose at 423-847-4810 with any questions.  (click for more)

Cleveland City Schools' Activities For Week Of April 23

Cleveland High School Theater Department presents the musical  Disaster!  Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the unforgettable songs of the '70s take center stage in this homage to classic disaster films. Tickets are $12/adults and $8/students. Final show is tonight, 7:00 pm in the Betsy Vines Memorial Theater at CHS. For more information contact Don Markham, ... (click for more)

Man Who Killed 4 At Waffle House Is In Custody

Travis Reinking, 29, the suspect in the shooting at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday, has been taken into custody, according to police. Reinking, who killed four people and injured two others at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday morning was on the loose Monday morning and had been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. ... (click for more)

Pet Raccoon That Was Destroyed Did Not Have Rabies

A pet raccoon that was destroyed in order to test for rabies after biting a neighbor child did not have rabies, Chattanooga attorney Chris Jones. The family has been advised it can pick up the remains of Boomer at the Chattanooga Hamilton County Health Department. Attorney Jones, who specializes in wildlife cases, earlier argued there was no valid reason for health ... (click for more)

Set Up A Council On Love, Not A Council On Hate - And Response

In Mayor Berke's April 19 version of the Berke Bulletin, he announced plans to establish a Council on Hate and indicated a focus on tolerance. I beg of him to reconsider that plan. One problem in Chattanooga and in other places in America is that there are some people who have already established an informal version of a Council on Hate. I suggest that a more productive plan ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Corker And ‘The Code’

Of all the vows, pledges, and bonds born unto the human race, nothing overrides “The Code.” It is an unwritten but deeply important knowledge that men should abide with equal respect, fierce loyalty, and chivalrous understanding of one another. For example, The Code dictates you must not and can never date a good friend’s ex-girlfriend, or ex-wife. Rather, you respect your friend ... (click for more)