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Gresham reaffirms efforts to replace Common Core

The head of Tennessee’s Senate Education Committee is clarifying earlier statements about the Common Core State Standards and reaffirming her commitment to replacing them.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Sen. Delores Gresham (R-Somerville), who is sponsoring a bill to replace the Common Core, had decided she’s now OK with the current standards after talking with teachers and other educators who have convinced her that “children are really learning.”

On Friday, however, Gresham issued a statement saying that her comments were misconstrued.

Delores Gresham (R-Somerville) chairs the Senate Education Committee.
Sen. Delores Gresham

“I reaffirm my commitment to higher academic standards through passage of Senate Bill 4 which sets our own Tennessee Standards Commission,” said Gresham, who is co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate. “In order to do this, we must clear the way by severing our ties with the current Common Core Standards.”

Gresham had told The AP that she had talked with teachers across the state, who had expressed that the implementation of Common Core in 2010 meant that “at last, we are no longer dumbing down our children.”

On Friday, she clarified her comments to say that she never meant that she is satisfied with Common Core:

“There is a great misconception among some that when you speak of being in favor of higher standards that it only means the Common Core Standards. … Let there be no mistake about it, many of us who take issue with Common Core are very much in favor of having the highest standards of our students,” she said in her statement.

Specifically, Gresham’s bill would establish a Tennessee Standards Commission, which would recommend to the State Board of Education new standards to be used in the state’s K-12 public schools.

When it appeared Gresham had backtracked on her opposition to the standards, some educators and advocacy organizations were pleased. But their satisfaction was cut short by her statement today.

Follow the status of education-related bills in the 109th Tennessee General Assembly.
Follow the status of education-related bills in the 109th Tennessee General Assembly.

“State Senator Gresham had the chance to be a leader in recognizing that Common Core is the most promising education reform in a generation because consistent, achievable high standards mean that states and school districts must invest in teachers and students,” said Wade Henderson, the CEO of the Leadership Conference of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a Memphis-based advocacy group. “But instead, she has kowtowed to a fringe political agenda that is not interested in the future of Tennessee’s students.”

In addition to Gresham’s bill on Common Core, similar legislation is sponsored in the House by Rep. John Fogerty (R-Athens). Last legislative session, a slew of anti-Common Core legislation was introduced, culminating in the delay of a Common Core-aligned assessment.

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