Bradley Education Panel Not Ready To Act After Getting 2 Views On Common Core

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bradley County Commission's education committee on Monday got two views of the Common Core standards initiative, but the panel members said they wanted to hear more before making a recommendation to the full commission.

Commissioner Jeff Morelock said, "I don't feel like I know much more about Common Core than when I first came in here, and I knew next to nothing about it then."

At the close of the meeting held at the Ocoee Middle School, the committee decided to meet again on the topic in two weeks.

At a recent commission meeting, several commissioners blasted Common Core and sought a resolution from the full commission to be sent to members of the local legislative delegation in opposition to it. Chairman Louie Alford then sent the issue to the education committee.

Commissioner Jeff Yarber on Monday made a motion for the anti-Common Core resolution to go forward, but he did not get a second.

Karen Bracken, a Common Core foe, said the movement could lead to placing education under a national school board, with declining power for local boards.

She said federal Race to the Top funds went mainly to states who were willing to impose Common Core, including Tennessee.

Dr. Jared Bigham, director of college and career readiness for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), defended Common Core, saying it is replacing a system in Tennessee, including use of TCAP testing, that had an excessive amount of standards.

The former principal in Polk County said, "Tennessee had a pile of standards that a show horse couldn't jump over." 

He said the reason that Tennessee teachers are currently under so much stress is that Common Core is being installed at the same time TCAP is still in place. This is the last year for TCAP, he said. For this year, he said of Tennessee teachers, "Pray for them."

He said Common Core has been adopted by 47 states and soon will be fully implemented in Tennessee.

Dr. Bigham said Common Core focuses on developing problem-solving abilities that will help either with going on to college or in a modern career.

Commissioner Terry Caywood, who was a principal for 35 years, said he is seeing teachers who are overwhelmed with testing requirements, including 4-8 tests a week for fourth graders, with one that is 12 pages long. He said, "You don't have time to teach."

Commissioner Bill Winters said the constant testing is taking away the ability of teachers to be able to creatively instruct students and leaving teachers stressed and overworked.

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