NASHVILLE - Parents and educators voiced their support for Tennessee's new Common Core State Standards for public education today in advance of a state Senate Education Committee hearing on the issue later this afternoon.
"We stand here in support," Dr. Vicki Kirk, director of Greene County Schools, said at a news conference. "We support raising the bar in the classroom."
Senators are holding two days of hearings on the tougher standards after getting bombarded with concerns from some social conservatives and others.
Critics fret the standards represent a federal takeover of schools, promotion of liberal social values and gleaming students' personal information from standardized tests.
But Kirk and other members of Tennessee's Expect More Achieve More, a statewide alliance of business, community, and education organizations supporting high academic standards, dismiss the concerns.
They say the rationale behind the Common Core standards, adopted by Tennessee and 44 other states, is ensuring students are ready for college and the workforce.
"It raises standards for our students and asks them to do more difficult work," said Dan Challener, president of the Public Education Foundation in Chattanooga, who attended the news conference.
Tennessee committed to implementing the new methods for teaching students when it applied for a federal Race to the Top grant to reform its K-12 education system. The state won a $501 million federal grant to implement changes.