The speaker of the state Senate says he wants to replace Common Core education standards, and he thinks state lawmakers are the right people to do it.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters Wednesday that the Senate Education Committee already has begun work on replacement standards that should be ready by the end of the legislative session.
The Blountville Republican said the effort would work alongside a review launched last fall by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration and the State Board of Education. But Ramsey added he does not wait for that review to be completed before taking up the matter legislatively.
“Something’s got to happen,” Ramsey said. “If you’re going to do away with the Common Core and replace it with something, something’s got to happen.”
Ramsey started talking about Common Core on day one of the legislative session. In his speech accepting election to a fifth term as leader of the Senate, Ramsey mentioned the controversy surrounding the math and reading standards and suggested their revision would be at the top of his legislative agenda.
Ramsey says he generally agrees with Gov. Bill Haslam that classes in Tennessee should be tougher. But with parents, teachers and activists on both ends of the political spectrum up in arms, he says Common Core must be repealed and replaced with similar standards specific to Tennessee.
Legislation could upset a review of the four-year-old standards that Haslam agreed to October. Since then, eight teams of teachers, superintendents and other education experts have been going through each element of Common Core, to recommend how they can be improved.
“The governor has said there would be a full vetting of the standards, which is currently in process,” David Smith, a spokesman for the governor, said later Wednesday. “They’ve been in place for four years, and it is the appropriate time to review them and make sure we have the correct standards in place. The goal is to come out with the very best Tennessee standards we can have.”
Those teams are supposed to report back to the State Board of Education by the end of the year. But Ramsey wants a replacement plan – designed by lawmakers – by late April, when he hopes to wrap up the legislative session.