Senate Education Committee Hearing Addresses Common Core
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Thursday, a standing room only crowd showed up for a Senate Education Committee session concerning the new set of standards known as common core.
"We stand here in support of Tennessee's Common Core State Standards," Dr. Vicki Kirk, Director of Greene County Schools, said while flanked by educators and parents during a press conference preceding the hearing. "We support raising the bar in our classrooms."
The Common Core State Standards are an issue where divisions are not just down party lines.
"We just don't see the advantage of a national standard," Barbara Sturgeon, parent and member of Ladies of Liberty said. "It's kind of a shackle in our point of view."
Before taking sides the committee is holding a series of hearings to separate fact from fiction.
"Over the course of the last several months many legitimate concerns have been raised about the Common Core State Standards and many have arisen to praise the standard," committee chair, Sen. Delores Gresham said.
Hundreds of teachers across the state have been trained on the new math and English standards that outline what students should know by the end of each grade. It requires teachers to encourage more discussion and defines mastery of a subject by the student's ability to explain their answers.
"I'm seeing my students become these confident problem solvers," Rose Park Middle School math teacher Cicely Woodard explained. "They are becoming effective communicators because of it. And all of those are skills they need in college and the workforce."
Common Core creates more uniformity across the country, as nearly every state and the District of Columbia are adopting these new measures. But it's still too new to have a track record of success.
"This is a rush, rush, here's the standards, let's implement them," Sturgeon said. "And it's costing billions of dollars of taxpayers money without the proper assurance that it's even going to be successful in improving the education for our students."
It's all in an effort to prepare students for life after high school, but many question if that can simply be determined by a test.
The hearing will continue Friday at 9 am. Fourteen speakers will address both sides of the issue.
After the hearings are complete, the committee will give a report to the general assembly and will determine if further action is necessary.
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.