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Haslam signs Common Core bill into law

Gov. Bill Haslam, flanked by House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, discuss the business of the 109th Tennessee General Assembly, which came to a close on Wednesday.
Gov. Bill Haslam, flanked by House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, discuss the business of the 109th Tennessee General Assembly, which came to a close on Wednesday.
Marta W. Aldrich

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed Common Core legislation billed as moving Tennessee away from its current academic standards for math and English, which the state Board of Education adopted in 2010 along with 47 other states.

Haslam signed the bill quietly on Monday, several weeks after the state legislature approved the compromise measure after months of often intense debate.

The new law codifies the governor’s current review of the standards, which the administration launched late last year, while also adding a layer of legislative review to the process.

Sponsors pledge that the new law ultimately will lead to the “repeal” of current standards, which appeases Common Core critics, but doesn’t stipulate that the new standards be markedly different from existing ones, which appeases Common Core supporters.

No changes are expected before the 2017-18 school year, appeasing educators and the Haslam administration, who called for a thoughtful review to fine-tune the state’s academic benchmarks on their merits, rather than an outright repeal that would have rushed teachers and students without a transition period.

For the past two legislative sessions, Common Core has been a divisive topic, leading many to predict its demise this year.

After the General Assembly recessed on April 22, Haslam told reporters that the Common Core compromise measure was one of the most surprising outcomes of this year’s legislative session.

“Entering this, if I had said we’re going to have a discussion about how we’re moving forward on standards in Tennessee, and we’re going to have that kind of consensus, everyone in this room would’ve said ‘I don’t think that could have happened,’” he said.

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