House erred in delaying Common Core

By the Citizen Tribune
Special to The Express

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — It appears a vast majority of Tennessee’s House of Representatives need to go back to school. Or at the least, maybe we could send a contingent of local students to Nashville to provide our “leaders” with the definition of irony.

As part of the ongoing exercise in mass paranoia that is the push back against the Common Core State Standards, House members hijacked a bill, loaded it with amendments to delay further implementation of the Common Core and showed themselves capable of the very kind of attack on locally controlled education that they claim to fear from Washington.

This was not about delay. This was a salvo hoping to turn back time and kill Common Core.

Despite the fact that the Common Core was created by an alliance of states and voluntarily joined, they fear the federal government, even if that fear should be assuaged by the dozens of state and federal laws that prevent such interference. We know that there are some who will never be convinced.

We know that there are those in Nashville and across this nation who see federal bogeymen behind every curtain.

We know they are willing to do very real damage to the state and the people they claim to protect in order to stave off these attacks, which in the best of cases only exist as a theoretical possibility.

The Core is only a set of agreed-upon benchmarks designed to ensure a fourth grader in Tennessee has achieved the same basic level of knowledge as a fourth grader in any one of the other 45-or-so states who have voluntarily joined the coalition.

There is no curriculum mandate. By law that remains with the local system, except when politicians in Nashville decide to change the law — ironically with the very bill they piled with amendments to delay the Common Core.

The original bill from Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, changes the current law, which urges that students learn, among other things, the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, the state constitution and more, to make the teaching of these things mandatory.

We believe it is important that students learn about the Declaration of Independence, but we also feel very strongly that the vast majority of schools systems in the state were already getting that done.

Another common criticism of the Common Core is that it was designed by education experts but not tested in the classroom. Hill, a communication major and radio host, is not an education professional but in fairness maybe he tested his bill in the classroom real world before submitting it.

The irony of using this bill as the Trojan horse to delay the Common Core is so thick that Gov. Bill Haslam will have to wipe it off like molasses if he wants to sign it into law.

It is our fervent hope that this bill dies in the Senate. However if it makes it to the governor’s desk, we hope Haslam will do the right thing and veto this action before it has a chance to do real harm to Tennessee and its students.

This guest editorial was provided by the Citizen Tribune via the Tennessee Press Association.