I’ll return to these larger questions in a moment, but first, back to Tennessee. For the latest on the situation, here are three stories to check out. One, from Joey Garrison of The Tennessean, a second from Grace Tatter of Chalkbeat Tennessee, and a third from Andrew Ujifusa over at Education Week. (He also penned a big-picture piece this summer exploring what the pushback will amount to when it comes to the content of state standards.)
Suffice it to say there are complicated politics at play in Tennessee that have surely placed enormous pressure on Haslam to call for a public review of the standards. His plan is to produce a set of recommended changes by the end of 2015. The Tennessean reports that the state board of education has already named members of review panels that include K-12 educators and representatives of higher education. In addition, the state plans to create a website where anyone can post their specific recommendations. Typically in Tennessee, state standards are reviewed every six years, but this review will come sooner, after four years. (It’s worth noting here that all states will eventually conduct reviews of the standards. Every state from time to time updates and revises its academic standards.)
Here are details on his announcement.
And here are some key takeaways from Gov. Haslam’s keynote address on May 19, 2014, at EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville, hosted by Vanderbilt University:
“This past legislative session, we’ve had a huge battle over the whole issue of implementing the Common Core in our schools. We’re in our third year of implementation. We’ve trained about 40,000 teachers, and as you can imagine, as you’ve read in other places in the country, it’s been just as contentious, if not more, here. But I honestly thought it was incredibly important we not back up on those standards.”
Gov. Haslam also offered a pretty nuanced discussion of the standards:
“I am a Republican governor, and there are a whole lot of folks in our party, and actually in both parties, … that have pushed back really hard against Common Core. We’ve worked really hard to define what it is and what it’s not. It’s not curriculum design. That’s still [a] local school board [decision]. It’s not textbook selection. That’s still local school boards with the state board of education. What it is is a group of states that came together and defined what every child should know at that point in his or her education career.”
The story in the Tennessean quotes a couple of Common Core critics from the legislature, including Republican representative Billy Spivey, who said: “We’ve been asking that the administration listen to the legislature and the voice of the people, and I think if we’re going to ask somebody to listen, we have to be willing to listen as well.”
The Tennessee action is not the same as the more aggressive stances taken in states such as Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, where measures to undo the state adoptions of the common standards have been approved. What this really means remains to be seen.