published Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Common Core bill gets hearing in Alabama — and more Chattanooga region news

Common Core bill gets hearing in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After efforts to repeal Common Core fell flat, an Alabama state senator on Tuesday urged lawmakers to let local school systems opt out of the education standards.

The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on a bill that would let local school systems not use the Common Core standards for math and English that were adopted by the Alabama Board of Education. The systems could revert to the state's previous standards.

"I would make the argument this bill lets the duly elected local board and local board members decide what is best for the children in their community," bill sponsor Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, said.

Beason said it would let policymakers compare the education outcomes under the old and new standards.

But what Beason described as a matter of local educational freedom, proponents of the standards said would be a significant step backward for classrooms and students.

Suzanne Culbreth, Alabama's 2013 teacher of the year, held a stack of emails from teachers in support of Common Core.

"Are these standards what are best for students? I feel unequivocally yes," Culbreth said. "We have seen gains in test scores and high-level thinking by our students. Are these standards more rigorous and setting a high academic bar? Yes."

Alabama is one of 45 states to adopt the standards that were developed by the National Governors' Association and tied to federal Race to the Top grants by the Obama administration. Business associations and state education groups have embraced the standards, but repeal has become a rallying cry from state tea party groups that equate it to the nationalization of public education.


Bernice King turns in father's Bible

ATLANTA — A lawyer involved in a dispute over Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize says few words were exchanged as King's daughter surrendered the items to be put in a safe deposit box.

A judge had ordered the items be kept there, with the keys held by the court, until the dispute is settled.

Lawyer William Hill, who represents the slain civil rights icon's estate, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the Rev. Bernice King gave the items to her brother Martin Luther King III so they could be placed in the safe deposit box.

Bernice and her father's estate, which is controlled by her brothers, are locked in a dispute over the ownership of the Bible and peace prize.


TVA sport fish survey starts

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority says its annual spring sport fish survey started Tuesday.

TVA biologists do the survey to assess the overall health of species such as crappie and black bass on nine TVA reservoirs in Alabama and Tennessee.

The biologists record the abundance, distribution, age, relative weight and general health of sport fish found in the reservoirs. The surveys are used by the TVA and shared with state agencies to protect sport fishing.

The surveys began on Wilson Reservoir near Muscle Shoals, Ala., and continues through May 1 on Douglas Reservoir near Knoxville.

Other reservoirs to be sampled are Nickajack, Chickamauga, Guntersville, Wheeler, Pickwick, Watts Bar and Fort Loudoun.

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