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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Common Core opposition grows

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This photo, submitted by Karen Bracken of Tennessee Against Common Core, shows the rally that took place Wednesday in Nashville.
(Submitted photo)
Opposition is mounting against Common Core on both the grassroots and legislative levels.

On the legislative level, state Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, is sponsoring a bill, HB2332, that would stop the implementation of Common Core standards as of July 1. That bill is being deferred in the House Education Subcommittee until the end of the session.

Tennessee Against Common Core (TACC) held a rally at War Memorial Plaza on Wednesday afternoon. The rally is part of a three-day event. On Tuesday, TACC attended a House Education Subcommittee meeting, and today the group will sit in on the regular House session.

The Senate Education Committee voted 7-2 Wednesday to defeat SB1985, which would have delayed any further implementation of Common Core.

TACC's founder, Karen Bracken, said her organization has picked up support this past year as people learn more about Common Core.

"Once you really get educated and know the truth and not paid rhetoric, people generally see it for what it is," she said. "I believe this is a federal takeover of education. The government is working through non-governmental organizations and foundations to achieve control of education."

Another group, Stop the Tennessee Testing Madness, is focusing on Common Core's testing requirements, called PARCC, which is supposed to be done online.

"I definitely do not like PARCC," said Jennifer Smith, the group's founder.

Typing an issue

Many schools cannot afford the technology involved with online testing, she said. Students will have to type their answers, but many students cannot type, especially since there is no state requirement they learn typing. School children practicing for PARCC use a different word processor than what is normally used in school.

"They're asking kids in the third grade to type two pages of information," she said. "My fourth-grader, who has played on computers since age 2, still hunts and pecks on the computer. The kids are asked complicated questions. They put a kid who doesn't know how to type in front of a computer to use a word processor he's never seen before. It's a split screen, when he has not learned to use split screens. It's just insane. We're just setting these kids up for failure."

One teacher's representative said that PARCC could possibly be postponed.

"The testing could be delayed, but we'll see," said J.C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. "We have advocated for two years. I'd rather they get it right. On the tech side, they're saying 60 percent of districts have technology in place. We have to go to a mixed format where some of it is written. I think that's flawed."


Bedford County Superintendent Don Embry said the local system is prepared for PARCC.

"We have prepared for Common Core for the last three years," Embry said. "We always stated we are in support of Common Core, and we're hopeful Common Core goes through the Legislature and stays intact. We would hate to go back to the old standards."

Pressure alleged

Opponents also say the federal government is pushing Common Core on the states.

"Just like Obamacare, Common Core was imposed on states using pressure, bribery and threat of tying acceptance of Common Core to Title 1 funding for the poor," according to TACC's website. "In the state of Tennessee we received $300 million in Title 1 funding in 2012."

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