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.


Public Education Foundation Hosts Free College Knowledge Lunch Breaks

High school parents & educators from all over the Tennessee Valley are invited to attend the Public Education Foundation's free College Knowledge Lunch Breaks.  Other adults who work with or advise students on the road to post-secondary success are invited as well.   These monthly lunch time workshops will focus on college related topics such as essay writing, ... (click for more)

Lee University To Present Homecoming Music Festival 2014

As a part of the Lee University Homecoming activities, the School of Music will present its annual Music Festival on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Conn Center. This year’s festival program will include familiar student ensembles Campus Choir, Chamber Strings, Evangelistic Singers, Jazz Band, Ladies of Lee, Lee Singers, Symphonic Band, Voices of Lee, and a group new to the ... (click for more)

2 People Shot Saturday Night On Carousel Road

Two people were shot Saturday evening on Carousel Road. At  9:11 p.m. , Chattanooga Police responded to 1406 Carousel Road on a call of a person shot. One victim on the scene suffered minor injuries.  Another victim was transported by personal vehicle to a local hospital. The s econd victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The suspect ... (click for more)

Teenager Killed In ATV Accident Thursday Night

Damon Lee Jones, 15, was killed Thursday night in an ATV accident in Walker County. It was reported he was riding with a 17-year old, when they tried to enter a church parking lot, but ran into a cable barrier. The accident happened on Dunwoody Road in LaFayette. The other rider, identified as Timothy J. Wallin, was not injured.   (click for more)

Tom Dugan Was A Good Man

Tom was my boss for most of my 36 years at Carta.  At the ceremony where I was awarded my 30-year service award, Tom said, "Don disagrees with 85% of my decisions, but I wish I had 80 more employees just like him." This kind of indicates our relationship. When I asked him to help with my plans for a reunion for the group of Veterans that I served with in Vietnam, he quickly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)