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Common-Core Review Process Initiated by Tenn. Gov. Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Oct. 22 that the state will soon begin a public vetting of the Common Core State Standards through a state-run website to gather comments on the standards.

Haslam, a Republican, also said that two new committees will work with the state school board to review the standards and, working with three other advisory committees, recommend changes to the standards by the end of 2015, according to The Tennessean.

"This discussion is about making sure we have the best possible standards as we continue to push ahead on the historic progress we're making in academic achievement," Haslam said in a statement.

While still supportive of the standards, in recent months the governor has taken a more open-minded position to how the common core is discussed in political terms, as conservative opposition to the standards continues. And Vanderbilt University reported last month that the share of Tennessee teachers who believe common core will improve student learning is now under water, going from 60 percent last year to 39 percent this year. 

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican who in legislation has targeted the federal goverment's role in promoting common core, praised Haslam's plan in a statement, saying it "will ensure that Tennessee families' best interests come first, instead of the wishes of distant Washington bureaucrats."

On the one hand, a state review of common core under increasingly combative political circumstances isn't new or necessarily earth-shattering. Tennessee's neighbor, Kentucky, is also allowing a similar public-comment period on the standards. And Florida added new standards to the common core earlier this year at the direction of GOP Gov. Rick Scott, though Florida is still broadly considered a "common-core state."

On the other hand, right-wing political opposition to the common core was a major factor in Tennessee's decision earlier this year to drop plans to administer the federally funded common-core tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. A similar bill that could have rolled back the standards in the Volunteer State failed, but it could be revived next year. It's clear that Haslam is aware of the political pressure surrounding the standards.

Whether that awareness, and the upcoming review of the standards, will lead Tennessee to essentially abandon the common core is still an open question. 

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