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.


Tennessee Highway Safety Office, Partners Advocate For Teen Safety During Prom, Graduation

Prom and graduation celebrations should be enjoyable, safe experiences for everyone. The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) is partnering with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and AAA – The Auto Club Group to promote teen driver safety during prom and graduation season. According ... (click for more)

Lee's Price, Sanders, And Kamm Receive CWC Awards

At a Lee University chapel service, Cody Price and Elisabeth Sanders were presented with the 2017 Dr. Charles W. Conn Servant Leadership Award, and Dr. William Kamm, director of graduate studies in education, received the Dr. Charles W. Conn Service Learning Faculty Award. University leadership honored the three for their exemplary work in service learning.    The ... (click for more)

Valerie Bray To Serve Workhouse Time For Traffic Death Of Runner Cameron Bean

Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz on Thursday ordered that Valerie Bray serve 11 months and 29 days in the workhouse for the   Sept. 19, 2015, traffic death of runner Cameron Bean at Moccasin Bend. She was given concurrent two-year sentences for criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. She faced 1-2 years on each count. The state had not ... (click for more)

Law Enforcement Shuts Down Convenience Store Near College Hill Courts As Public Nuisance

Law enforcement on Thursday took steps to shut down a convenience store near the College Hill Courts as a public nuisance. The action was taken after District Attorney Neal Pinkston filed a petition with Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz about the Westside Shop. The store is operated by Salma Ambo, and the real property is owned by AAA Investment Properties LLC. The petition ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Knoxville’s Godsend

Back when we were uppity teenagers, the best put-down when a friend started acting crazy was to say to the heathen, “Quit acting like you are from Knoxville!” I don’t know how the term originated but I can say that back in the day it was pretty insulting to be told you were acting like you were from Knoxville. This week I wish that more of us acted like Knoxville. The Knox County ... (click for more)