East Tenn. educators divided over Common Core House vote

East Tenn. educators divided over Common Core House vote

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By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - State lawmakers in the House voted Thursday to delay the implementation of Common Core and an assessment test in Tennessee public schools.

The measure still needs approval from the Senate and governor, but it's sparking up debate from both sides of the issue.

The original version of the bill was established to require an emphasis on American history in the classrooms, but two amendments to that bill made all the difference.

One delays the implementation of Common Core, while another amendment delays the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career Assessments, known as PARC, both until July 2016.

"A lot of the problem was people didn't understand. They didn't fully understand Common Core going in," said State Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville.

Johnson was one of 81 lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill, with only eleven voting against it. Four of the dissenting votes are legislators from Knoxville.

As a Knox County teacher herself, Rep. Johnson says the postponement allows teachers to be better prepared for the changes.

"This would allow us some time to start the language and math standards, and get used to them, and say 'Where do we need to tweak?' 'Do we need to tweak?' Let folks and parents in the community understand what's happening," she said.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre says the vote was disappointing.

"Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the nation in terms of student academic achievement, and I'm not sure why we would want to walk away from that," he said.

McIntyre says if the delay is put into effect, it's unclear how it would work, considering Common Core is already taught in the classrooms.

"I think there's a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what this action might mean. We're in the third year of implementation of Common Core state standards in Tennessee. We're in full implementation this academic year," McIntyre said.

The delay of Common Core and PARC isn't a done deal yet. They still need to pass in the State Senate, and it would then require a signature from the governor.

Gov. Bill Haslam has been a strong supporter of Common Core. His press secretary sent us this statement:

"Yesterday's votes are one step in the legislative process, and we will review the amendments to assess their impact. Tennessee has come too far to go backward. The governor will continue to stand up for higher standards and relevant testing of those standards."

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