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Opinions on call for Huffman’s resignation split along predictable lines

Kevin Huffman
Kevin Huffman was Tennessee's education commissioner from 2011 to 2014.

A day after a group of Republican legislators in Tennessee released a letter calling for state education commissioner Kevin Huffman’s immediate resignation—and the Tennessee Department of Education’s quick rebuttal—both supporters and detractors of Huffman’s policies remain steadfast in their positions.

The politicians—13 representatives and two senators—allege that Huffman violated state law by not releasing scores from TCAP, the state’s standardized test, to all school districts, as required by state law. The department of education’s letter said such accusations were baseless.

Sen. Frank Niceley, a Republican from Strawberry Plains, said that he had not read the response from the department of education, but upon learning its contents, was not surprised. “Well, that’s about all they could say,” he said.

Niceley said he was in part influenced to sign the letter by rumors that Huffman, who moved to the state from Washington, D.C., plans to leave Tennessee soon of his own accord.

“Rumor has it he wants to go somewhere else anyway,” Niceley said. “Commissioner Huffman is more worried about his résumé than our children’s education.” Niceley was a co-sponsor of the bill that delayed the state’s implementation of PARCC, a Common-Core aligned standardized test.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesperson David Smith said Huffman and Haslam, a Republican, were frustrated by the lack of communication from the representatives prior to the letter, according to the Commercial Appeal: “Our office reached out to several of these members earlier in the week to discuss their concerns, and it is disappointing they chose a political stunt instead of constructive dialogue.”

Rep. Mark White, a Republican from Memphis and the chair of the House Education Subcommittee, echoed Smith’s statements. Speaking from an education seminar in Louisville Kentucky, White said that he was disappointed in his colleagues’ letter.

“We need to do everything we can to work together to figure this out,” he said. “It doesn’t do anything to splinter like this.”

A spokesperson from the department of education said the department had no further comments on the letter.

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