A Cleveland, Tenn., businessman says city officials crossed a line when they tore down protest signs he posted outside his business Thursday during a visit by Gov. Bill Haslam, reports the Chattanooga TFP. “There needs to be a public apology,” said Dan Rawls, owner of Cleveland Performance Center, for what he says is trespass and violation of his right to free speech. “I think they need to take a course in the Constitution to learn not only that you can’t violate private property rights, you can’t violate First Amendment rights.”
But City Councilman George Poe said Rawls is the one who crossed the line by planting the handmade signs on city right of way near the South Cleveland Community Center, where Haslam announced $570,000 in grants for the center and the Mouse Creek greenway.
“The governor came to give us a half-million dollars, and I thought that was pretty nice,” Poe said Friday. “We come out the door, and there’s signs all over the place painted on cardboard boxes in orange spray paint. … It was a pretty big embarrassment to us in the city,” Poe said Friday.
Rawls planted signs in the grass near the street in front of his business to protest Haslam’s support for the Common Core standards…K-12 education guidelines that Rawls calls a “federally run school system.”
“Shame on you Haslam,” one read. A smaller sign next to it said, “Stop CC.”
Poe said he went with City Manager Janice Casteel when she said the signs were on the public right of way. He said she called the police codes enforcement officer and began pulling up the signs.
Then, Poe said, “This big muscled-up guy, screaming, yelling, slinging his arms around,” came out of Rawls’ business and ordered him and Casteel off his property. Poe said he “thought he was going to give Janice a shove,” so he used the police radio he carries to call for help.
Rawls said he ordered Casteel and Poe to get off his property but didn’t in any way threaten them. Police showed up in force, but calm was restored quickly.
From photos, it’s hard to tell whether the signs are in the 6-foot city right of way.
The debate over Common Core standards could become quite controversial in next year’s legislative session, says Andrea Zelinski in a political weather report on the growing storm. Critics on the conservative right have begun assembling, lobbying lawmakers, drafting legislation, even setting up booths at county fairs to hand out information.
If the fight comes to blows, Common Core could pin conservative Republicans against the legislative leadership that aligns itself closely with the governor and his administration, who is holding firm on the standards.Co
Two-thirds of the legislature is made up of Republicans, many of them swept into their seats by grassroots tea party support, all too aware the 2014 election is right around the corner.
“We are developing an army, and we have over 700 people on it now who can mobilize when we need to put pressure on our legislators,” said Katherine Hudgins, a chief organizer for Tennessee Against Common Core and a political activist for the 9/12 Project and an officer with the Rutherford County Tea Party. “We will join forces with anybody of any stripe that has the same political concern.”
That’s where the plot thickens, according to (Rep. Mike) Stewart, a Democrat with serious concerns over Common Core. The topic can drive people of various political persuasions together and give political heft to an effort challenging any aspect of the new standards instead of making it an intra-party squabble.
Stewart has different reasons for picking a fight with Common Core, though.
“I worry that Common Core is yet the latest untested program forced upon the state from the Department of Education,” he said.
“We should be very skeptical of education ‘reforms’ put forward by this commissioner,” he added, capitalizing on discord among teachers frustrated with Huffman’s move to restructure minimum teacher pay scales.
Stewart is also concerned there’s already too many standardized tests for students to take, a topic that parents and school board members echo.
Eight Tennessee public school system superintendents have launched a new education advocacy group, reports the Kingsport Times-News, with a declaration of support for “Common Core” standards among its first actions. Founding members of the Leading Innovation for Tennessee Education (LIFT) group include Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie, Kingsport Superintendent Lyle Ailshie and Greene County Director of Schools Vicki Kirk.
The new group is similar to the national Chiefs for Change organization, except focused on the state level.
Today, the group plans to support State Board of Education approval of teacher licensure reforms recommended by Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman and on Friday support state board passage, on second reading, of differential teacher pay reform. Both may draw Tennessee Education Association opposition.
One of the group’s first actions was to voice support for the continued implementation of the Common Core standards for math and English/language arts and accompanying assessments. The group wrote a letter of support to Gov. Bill Haslam, Huffman and the state BOE.
“Publicly supporting efforts like the Common Core State Standards, teacher licensure reform, and new teacher compensation systems will form the core of LIFT Education’s early work and are consistent with our mission,” said Neel Durbin, head of Dyersburg City Schools.
…”We recently convened a small, independent policy forum for superintendents committed to courageous student-centered leadership to ensure quality instruction and student success in Tennessee,” said Lyle Ailshie, Superintendent of Kingsport City School. “It’s homegrown and Tennessee specific. We’re just getting started, and I fully expect moving forward we will include more superintendents across the state who really subscribe to our core principles.”
…The eight members so far are Ailshie; Jerry Boyd, director of the Putnam County School System; Durbin; Shawn Kimble, superintendent of the Lauderdale County School System; Kirk; James McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools; Clint Satterfield, director of Trousdale County Schools; and Yennie.
— Note: LIFT is also the acronym of a PAC operated by the state’s trial lawyers association, namely Lawyers Involved for Tennessee.
A column distributed to media by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District:
Folks across my district universally support providing their children with a good education. Educating our children strengthens our communities, creates and supports jobs, and boosts our economic competitiveness in the global market and at home. As long as parents, teachers, administrators and other state and local actors are offered the ability to hold their educational systems accountable, our schools will be robust and our children will thrive.
Unfortunately, ongoing actions by the President are threatening to take over what we teach our kids. Our schools, and the teachers and administrators that make them work, are being shut out by a program known as Common Core.
Common Core began as a vision by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2007 to bring about uniform “American standards” to schools. After pledging $60 million towards the goal, these groups worked with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to develop and implement these standards. They found a strong ally in President Obama.
With the state Senate Education Committee planning hearings on Common Core, Frank Cable has some thoughts on what’s to come: Gov. Bill Haslam’s education reforms hit a couple of speed bumps this past legislative session, but his reforms may hit a brick wall come next session. A major battle is brewing over the direction of the state’s schools pitting Haslam, Bill Frist, Bill and Melinda Gates, and the state’s business establishment against conservative groups and the legislators who listen to them.
It’s about the Common Core Curriculum, a term you may not have run across. But it has begun to rank with Obamacare as a program reviled by conservative groups.
…I have hundreds of pages of a report introducing the Common Core Curriculum. So far it just makes my head hurt. I suspect the debate in the Legislature will be based on political positions and alliances with different groups rather than on legislators actually studying those hundreds of pages.
The business community and Haslam are determined to raise educational standards. It is entirely possible for the educational reform effort in the state to get derailed over arguments about “liberal ideas” replacing traditional “American values.”
The hearings will be important. The business establishment had better be ready to handle the questions raised. Both sides of the issue need to have “truth squads” to separate fact from fiction. It is the most important issue facing our state at the moment. Let’s don’t screw it up.
A poll conducted by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, found there is strong support for the implementation of the state’s Common Core State Standards and that awareness of the new standards continues to grow, according to the News Sentinel. Last school year, districts across Tennessee began implementing the standards, which are a more rigorous and detailed way of teaching to help students be better prepared for college and the workforce. Forty-six states have adopted the new standards.
….SCORE’s poll, which surveyed 500 registered voters statewide, was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research on May 6, May 7 and May 9. The agency conducted a similar survey in the fall of 2012.
Results of this year’s poll found that after hearing a brief description about the standards, about 76 percent of voters support their implementation, with 44 percent “strongly” favoring them.
A total of 15 percent of voters were either “somewhat” or “strongly” opposed to their implementation.
Of those surveyed, 80 percent of voters, who had some knowledge of Common Core, said that “educational standards of public school will be either raised by the Common Core (39 percent) or stay about the same (41 percent). Only 14 percent of voters expect the Common Core will lower standards.”
Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre said the poll was important because there has been some “misinformation” in the public about the standards.
“Getting a sense of where Tennesseans stand on these new higher standards is important to be able to move forward,” he said. “It tells me that the efforts to provide information and educate the public on the benefits of Common Core, those efforts are paying off and that message is being heard. I think that’s a really positive development.”
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) confirmed today that the Senate Education Committee will hold meetings in late summer or early fall to review facts regarding the state’s Common Core Standards. Gresham said the Committee will hear from critics from all ends of the political spectrum regarding concerns with the standards as well as gather testimony from proponents and state education officials.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSS0). Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards. Several states, however, have recently announced they are reevaluating them.
“These are fact-finding meetings,” said Senator Gresham. “Some parents and teachers have voiced concerns that we need to look at. It is also important that we review the progress of this program, including the latest test results. In addition, I want to evaluate how the standards might have affected state and local control.”
In Tennessee, the decision to adopt Common Core State Standards was made by Governor Phil Bredesen and the State Board of Education in July 2010. The State Board of Education is the governing and policy-making body for the Tennessee system of public elementary and secondary education. Since that time, school districts in Tennessee have phased in use of the Common Core State Standards for math and English language arts.
“It is very important that we have high academic standards to give our students the skills they need to compete in an increasingly global economy,” said Senator Gresham. “At the same time, I firmly believe that education is a state and local function and we must always work to ensure that we have the autonomy necessary to best serve the interest of Tennessee students. We will look at all the factors as we review how this program is serving our students and helping us reach our academic goals.”
Senator Gresham represents Senate District 26 which is comprised of Chester, Decatur, Fayette, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, McNairy, and Henderson Counties. She and her husband, Will, live on a farm in Somerville, Tennessee.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Proponents of a new set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading say they’re needed to better prepare students for college and the workforce, but critics of the measures contend they don’t know enough about them and are concerned about the federal government’s involvement.
About 500 people registered to attend a panel discussion Tuesday night that highlighted concerns ranging from the cost to implement the common core state standards to how involved the federal government will be in developing them.
The standards, which 45 states and the District of Columbia are adopting, are described as a set of higher expectations in math and English that include more critical thinking and problem solving to help better prepare students for global competition.
Under the standards, new tests are expected to replace the current TCAP tests in math and English next year to better measure student learning.
Statement from Dick Williams, Common Cause of Tennessee:
House Bill 643 by Casada / SB 787 by Watson & Ramsey contain several revisions to the current campaign finance laws in Tennessee.
This bill has received little discussion in the public and in committee, but is scheduled for floor votes in this, presumably, last week of the session. Many of the provisions, when explained in the context of current state & federal campaign law are relatively non controversial.
The exception, so far, is the increase in the limits on contributions from PACs controlled by political parties or caucuses. While Common Cause/TN has some concern about the amounts of the proposed increases in those limits, we are more concerned about the effect of a provision that has received little attention to date. Section 5 of the bill would delete the word “corporation” from the definition of a PAC.
While section 3 of the bill clarifies that corporate or insurance company contributions are held to the same limits as are PACs, the deletion from the definition of a PAC means that corporations, like individuals, would not have to report their contributions to the Registry of Election Finance.
PACs, unlike individuals, are required to report their political contributions to the Registry of Election Finance. Since the definition of a PAC includes a committee, club, association or other group of persons who receive or make political contributions, the effect of Section 5 of this bill would mean that a small group or club that made contributions would continue to report to the Registry, but corporations would not. Certainly, the public would see this as unfair and inappropriate.
One of the important tools for the Registry to assure the accuracy of the campaign disclosure information is the cross-checking of PAC reports with those of candidates. Frequently, discrepancies are found and corrected. In most cases, the figures are reconciled as a bookkeeping error on the part of either the PAC or the candidate or both.
Although we are concerned about possible amendments to this broad captioned bill contrary to the public interest, we believe that Section 5 should be deleted, if the bill is adopted.
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher tells The Commercial Appeal that 2011 has been a “trying year” with the many obstacles facing the country and little cooperation from the Democratic majority in the Senate. But he said he remains optimistic that common sense solutions will prevail. “I think people are searching for stability and certainty in not only government but in the economy,” he said. “That’s one reason that we were elected in such a large number in the last election. They just want common sense solutions, if you will, to common sense problems that are really, really plaguing the private sector.”
To that end, Fincher touted his recent legislative initiative to make it easier and cheaper for companies to make initial public offerings of shares. Earlier in the year, Fincher — who left assignments with the House Agriculture and Transportation committees to take a spot on Financial Services — introduced a bill to suspend collection of capital gains taxes for 10 years.
“Taking capital gains to zero, we think, is a good step in the right direction of keeping more money in peoples’ pockets,” he said.