What Will Bill Haslam Actually Do About Common Core?

Just in case you missed this story The Tennessean reported that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s tone on Common Core is changing.

“For me, it shouldn’t be about the name and what we call it, the battle should be about: Are we going to have high standards or not and what exactly should those standards be?” Haslam said.

Haslam delivered that message in Nashville as he sat next to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, in town for a Denver Chamber of Commerce leadership visit. Haslam’s latest comment follows others in which he called for a “full vetting” of Common Core standards, with a legislative session looming and the fate of the controversial standards expected to take center stage.

The tone is far removed from where the Tennessee governor stood just 10 months ago, when he endorsed the standards wholeheartedly by name. “Common Core is critical to the progress the state has made, and he’s committed to making sure we continue that momentum,” a spokesman said back then.

His latest comments seem to suggest that he’s not necessarily opposed to scrapping the name, at least, so long as the standards are robust.

Now changing the name will not do a blasted thing, but it is clear that Haslam is under pressure to address the increasingly unpopular standards.  This fall, in a shock poll, 56% of Tennessee teachers say they want to abandon the standards.  Will he actually do something tangible or will he just obfuscate the issue by just changing the name?  He says he wants to do a review, but do so after the 2015 legislative session which seems to be his way of delaying the inevitable as many legislators in his party are ready to repeal.

Let’s Get Gov. Mike Pence’s Attention Tomorrow via Twitter

Time for another Twitter rally.  Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) will be in Dallas, TX tomorrow (8/29/14) at the Defending the American Dream Summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity.  He is on the agenda tomorrow at 10:00a (Central Time) to be on a panel for a workshop entitled “Wastewatchers – Tightening the Belt on Government Spending.”

Please plan on starting about 9:45a and we can go all morning, but the workshop will probably be finished around 11:15a (Central Time).  So if we can blow up Twitter for an hour and a half that would be great.  If you are not able to do this live if you use Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer or some other 3rd party Twitter app please schedule some Tweets during this time.

Our goal is to get his attention so he’ll be motivated to go back to Indiana and address the sloppy Common Core rebrand that was done there.

In all of your tweets if you would please make sure you are directing your tweet to him – @GovPenceIN and use two hashtags the first would be #DeserveBetter and then the conference hashtag is #Dream14.  If you have enough space please also include #StopCommonCore.  It’s more important to use his Twitter handle @GovPenceIN (otherwise his staff won’t see it) and #DeserveBetter though.

Here are some sample tweets.

  • .@GovPenceIN Hoosier kids #DeserveBetter standards than a Common Core rebrand. #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN your Common Core rebrand & assessments are a budget buster.  Hoosiers #DeserveBetter.  #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN your Common Core rebrand violates free market principles, your state #DeservesBetter #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN private schools in your state #DeserveBetter than to have poor rebranded standards tied to vouchers. #Dream14 #StopCommonCore
  • .@GovPenceIN I didn’t think it was possible but Indiana now has worse math standards than Common Core. Hoosiers #DeserveBetter #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN check out @PioneerBoston’s smarter way to #StopCommonCore – http://bit.ly/1AYmrqZ Indiana #DeservesBetter #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN voters #DeserveBetter than to have a potential presidential candidate pull a bait & switch. #StopCommonCore for real. #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN Hoosier parents #DeserveBetter than junk standards thrown together instead of a real plan to #StopCommonCore #Dream14
  • .@GovPenceIN Hoosiers #DeserveBetter than to have “education czars” foist education policy on us (http://bit.ly/1AYo6wF) #Dream14

I hope you join in!  Please share your sample tweets in the comments.

Parents and Citizens Are Key to Eradicating Federal Overreach Into Education


The Lyndon B. Johnson Building, HQ of the U.S. Dept. of Education, 2006
Photo credit: Cool Ceasar (Wikimedia Commons)(CC-By-SA 3.0)

Common Core has infiltrated all fifty states even though several governors initially rejected those federally promoted standards. Numerous governors who regret funding and supporting Common Core have promised to repeal the federally aligned standards. Time has shown that those governors have simply renamed the standards. Therefore, the solution to the problem rests with the citizens of each state.

State governors and legislators can refuse to fund any aspect of federal programs imposed upon their state. They can demand that the U.S. Department of Education be required to bring all policy issues to Congress before imposing them on the states, and they can demand that federal level legislators protect state autonomy in education. Governors and legislators have unfortunately bowed to federal pressure concerning Common Core. Citizens are in the best position to protect their children. Only citizens can prevent Common Core from being implemented in their local schools.

Texans rejected Common Core originally, yet Women on the Wall held a National Conference on Education in Austin, Texas, to address processes for eliminating Common Core from their schools. These federally aligned standards were introduced at the district level and wear a variety of new names including CSCOPE. Even though the governor rejected Common Core and refused to fund the program, their schools are infected with federally aligned standards and testing.

Many legislators from both parties have tried to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, the source of most major initiatives which fail our children and undermine the quality of our educational system.

Fairness requires us to recognize the fact that legislators would dissolve the DoED if their constituents supported the effort. If the Common Core Standards and all future federal educational policies are to be stopped, citizens must provide financial and personal support to all legislators willing to neuter the DoED.

The process could begin by removing cabinet status from DoED and by requiring it to return to its original mission: accumulating statistics and being a source of information to the states.  No longer should the DoED be allowed to write policy and impose that policy on the states.

Legislators could demand that the federal government no longer be allowed to tax citizens for federal educational policymaking. The millions of tax dollars removed from the states to implement discretionary and mandatory spending on DoED policies should be returned to the states and the funding for the department should be cut.  Legislators could leave just enough funding to cover the cost of gathering data and disseminating that data to the states.

The basic principle of conservatism is to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, the state constitutions, and state autonomy in education. When conservative legislators refuse to dissolve the U.S. Department of Education, they are ignoring a most basic principle of conservatism.

Conservatives must be willing to work with Democrats who also resent the overreach of the DoED. “Bad Ass Teachers Association” and “Dump Duncan” created by Professor Mark Naison advocate protesting high stakes testing which they claim attack teacher autonomy. They recognize that both political parties are responsible for causing this problem and should be responsible for solving the problem.

Additional support for reigning in the DoED could come from groups like The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Their president believes the DoED is exercising unilateral executive authority as they attempt to federalize teacher-preparation programs. AACTE prefers that Congress be required to deliberate and act on issues of this importance. Limiting the power of the DoED is a goal of the AACTE. Getting along with those who share conservative views occasionally will advance conservatives as being solution driven.

Parents and citizens are the key to eradicating federal overreach. Conservative leaders who work with groups like BATS and AACTE would be able to gain support from a broad base of liberals and conservatives to curtail the DoED, to return autonomy to the states, to allow teachers to function as professionals, and to make it easier for parents to exercise local control of schools.