published Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Bradley County Commission backs ousting Common Core

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    Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, addresses the Bradley County Commission regarding state legislation concerning Common Core standards in Tennessee.
    Photo by Paul Leach.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Commission wants Common Core standards out of the classroom.

On Monday, the Bradley County Commission voted 9-4 to support Tennessee House Bill 2332, which calls for the state to "discontinue the use of common core standards in English language arts and mathematics" on July 1.

"If the state and local governments created their own set of standards, we can take the few good things in Common Core and implement them," said Commissioner Jeff Yarber, who has repeatedly called for the state to reject the wholesale adoption of those standards. "With Common Core, we're tied to the federal system, we're tied to whatever the state does ... like a dog on a chain."

Those who voted to approve Yarber's call to support HB 2332, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, cited concerns associated with restrictions on teachers' freedom to teach in the classroom.

"The truth of the matter is we continue to teacher-proof the classroom," said Bradley County Commission Vice Chairman J. Adam Lowe. "My sole criticism of Common Core -- as it's been packaged -- is that it handcuffs the teacher and treats them as if they are a robot."

The measure was opposed by Commissioners Bill Winters, Jeff Morelock, Mark Hall and Robert Rominger, who expressed the desire to instead support the Bradley County Board of Education's official position on Common Core.

In a recent statement, the school board enumerated a number of concerns it had with Common Core, including the potential disruption of student growth related to the "instant, global implementation" of those standards and a negative impact upon teacher lesson planning caused by the parallel implementation of Common Core and existing state standards.

The county school board also took issue with the state's implementation of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College until it is validated by grade level "to accurately assess [how] student growth and its cost to taxpayers" are clearly defined.

However, the school board did not call for the outright repeal of Common Core standards.

A substitute measure put forth by Winters for the County Commission to adopt the school board's stance failed in a 8-5 vote. He was joined by Morelock, Hall, Rominger and Lowe.

The school board's position was "a little watered down," Yarber said.

Common Core is the chief topic of discussion in the Tennessee Assembly now that Volkswagen has been addressed, said Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who attended the meeting.

"Common Core" is a broken name brand, Brooks said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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