NASHVILLE (AP) — Two Republican state senators filed legislation Monday to repeal the state's Common Core standards even though Gov. Bill Haslam has called for a public review of the higher benchmarks in English and math.
The proposal would set up a Tennessee Standards Commission that would recommend to the State Board of Education new standards to be used in the state's K-12 public schools.
Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham and Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell said the move is designed to ensure Tennessee students continue to improve by applying the highest standards while exerting state control over education.
"It is the next logical step that will take us into the future and ensure that we as Tennesseans have control over our education system," Gresham told The Associated Press.
Common Core is a set of English and math standards that spell out what students should know and when. The standards — which have been adopted by most of the states — are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.
The standards were scrapped this year in Indiana and Oklahoma. Governors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri have signed legislation to reconsider the standards, even though they're still being used in those states.
Last month, Haslam, a Republican, announced the formation of panels to review the math and English components of the Common Core standards and to report their recommendations at the end of next year. That's months after the state Legislature concludes its annual session. The next session starts in January.
On Monday, after a speech to a group of educators, Haslam told reporters that he hasn't thoroughly reviewed the repeal legislation. But he said he questions how the standards would be replaced because students and teachers are already using them.
"To change any standards is not an automatic process ... that's going to take some time," Haslam said. He said the point of his review is to determine which changes would be possible.
The legislation filed Monday and Haslam's review both come amid mounting political pressure about the standards. Tea party groups have derided Common Core as government overreach, while some teachers groups have complained that the standards rely too heavily on student test scores. The scores are, in turn, used to evaluate teacher performance.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, who announced last week that he's leaving for the private sector, has been heavily criticized for his lead role in the state's education overhaul. It has included the implementation of Common Core standards and changes to teacher tenure rules.
Several attempts to repeal the standards failed during the last legislative session. Lawmakers did manage to delay the testing component of the standards.
Gresham said she believes her colleagues will support the bill once they "understand it." She hasn't talked to Haslam about the proposal but said she supports his review of the standards.
"We have talked very often about maintaining high academic standards," she said. "I think we're on the same page as far as that goes."
David Mansouri, executive vice president of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, which is closely allied with Haslam on education matters, said the group supports Tennessee's current standards and the review process the governor has created to examine them.
"We support letting that process run its course before any effort is made to adjust standards in the state," he said.