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Tennessee School Leaders Beg For Common Core To Stay

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The vast majority of Tennessee school superintendents have released a letter begging the state not to abandon Common Core, just as the legislature appears poised to make it the latest Republican-led state to pull out.

The letter was signed by 114 of Tennessee’s 141 superintendents. Combined, they oversee 86 percent of the state’s public school students. It notes that educators have spent years and millions of dollars preparing to implement the new standards and that legislative action now threatens to pull the rug out from under them.

“It would be a huge blow to the morale of educators if the General Assembly passes legislation that puts Tennessee on a path to change standards once again or that alters the timeline for the new assessment,” the letter reads.

It also touts significant gains in test scores that Tennessee students have made in the last several years as signs the current process is working.

“Please do not derail this momentum with another change that could disrupt the learning for students and teachers in classrooms across our state,” it reads.

Several lawmakers in Tennessee are crafting bills for the 2015 session that would eliminate Common Core in the state and replace it with a new set of standards created by Tennessee. If such a bill passes, Tennessee would join Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana on the list of states that once embraced Common Core but have now pulled out.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslem has been a strong supporter of the standards, but lately he has begun to give into to their critics, establishing a state commission to review the standards and admitting last week that Common Core is a “ruined brand.” He now says his goal is to collaborate with legislators in a reform effort that would eliminate the Common Core name while trying to preserve what he sees as its positive aspects.

Haslem’s capitulation has lawmakers smelling blood, and it means Tuesday’s letter could be too little too late for saving Common Core. After Haslem’s State of the State address, which mentioned high standards but not Common Core, Tennessee Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey told reporters on Monday that “I think it’s a given: Common Core is dead in the state of Tennessee and everybody knows it.”

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