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Legislature “Running Amok” on Education Reforms

March 13, 2014

When the Commercial Appeal begins to cover a topic from both sides, you know it’s become so hot it can’t be ignored. (Oh, that we wish it were not so, CA, but you are what you are.)

Today’s edition included a story by Richard Locker about 55 Shelby County teachers busing off to Nashville to rally against what Memphis-Shelby Co. Education Association president Keith Williams said is a legislative agenda “running amok on public education.” The teachers’ union is concerned about vouchers, tying teachers’ evaluations and licensure to standardized testing (e.g., the forthcoming PARCC assessments), allowing for-profit charter schools to enter the state, and ~ ahem! ~ Common Core.

Elsewhere in today’s CA, Mr. Locker reported on Gov. Haslam’s appeal to members of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce to stand firm against Common Core pushback, using the long-discredited talking points that the initiative ensures “higher standards and better outcomes in Tennessee.”

With all due respect, Gov. Bill ~ baloney!

baloney meter

Grassroots protestors of Common Core and its attendant Race to the Top (RTTT) school reforms have been turning out in large numbers at the Capitol this week, and are expected to be present again tomorrow (Thursday) when House representatives vote on an anti-Common Core amendment attached to HB1129  by Rep. Rick Womick of Rutherford County. Rep. Womick is one of the few Tennessee legislators who has taken the time to research the facts underlying RTTT and Common Core. Over time, he has become an outspoken foe. Although Rep. Womick has no announced rivals for his seat, capital sources say that Gov. Haslam has vowed to finance opponents to run against any Tennessee legislator who dares t0 take a stand against Common Core/RTTT reforms.

Education bills have abounded in this session of the Tennessee General Assembly. On one side, there are those pushing and protecting the Bill Gates/Arne Duncan reform agenda, including Gov. Haslam; State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman; Bill Frist’s SCORE;  business and chamber of commerce groups who bought into “higher standards” and “college and career ready” rhetoric and now find themselves in a public fight they never expected; and legislators like Shelby County representative John DeBerry. Rep. DeBerry, who sits on the House Education Committee, arguably owes his  last re-election to $112,113 in campaign financing he accepted from Students First, the Washington, D.C.-based school reform advocacy group run by Comm. Huffman’s controversial ex-wife Michelle Rhee.

The opposing side is a mix of odd bedfellows including many teachers and teachers unions; Momma and Papa Bears; public school supporters; high-information voters; and a few brave legislators who have done their homework, like Rep. Womick and fellow Rutherford countian Rep. Dawn White. They are fighting for repeal of Common Core; preservation of local control over education; barriers to further privatization of schools (which locks out parental and public input); an end to standardized testing with high stakes for teachers and students; ending inappropriate data collection on students and their families; and reinstatement of certain essential instruction in schools, such as cursive handwriting and U.S. government.

People in many states, including Tennessee, are just beginning to realize the harmful impact of the radical reforms ushered in under the auspices of pig nosesRTTT, Arne Duncan, and Bill Gates. Politicians like Gov. Haslam (and his predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen), who eagerly drank the Kool-Aid when Race to the Trough Top rolled out and Billy G. was lavishing money around like the proverbial drunken sailor, will find the next few months and years challenging. Coming too close on the tails of the Obamacare scam, voters are fed up with federal over-reaching accomplished through political trickery and deceit.

rttt cartoon

This will not end well for Gov. Haslam. Yes, it’s embarrassing  and  messy for a politician to reverse course on an issue he or she has championed; but the governors of Maine, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana have drunk the antidote, and now oppose Common Core reforms.  As more facts come out,  teachers find their voices, and more parents see absurd and outrageous homework and class assignments, reforming school reforms will become a dominant political issue.

If you have been reading Joe Saino’s MemphisShelbyInform blog this week, you already know that a meeting to discuss Common Core will be held this Friday, March 14, from 5:30-7:30 at The Church of Christ at White Station, 1106 Colonial Road (second floor). The speaker will be Arkansas parent Karen Lamoreaux. Since Mrs. Lamoreaux’s passionate and informed four minute presentation to her local school board about Common Core was posted on YouTube three months ago, she has been interviewed by Glenn Beck and Fox Business News,written about by national columnists, and become one of the most recognized voices in the opposition movement. The video has had over 600,000 hits.

If you want to know what the CA and local news lapdogs are not telling you about this transformation of American education, go hear Karen Lamoreaux on Friday night.  Additional meetings are planned with local teachers as speakers. Back in River City will keep you informed.


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