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Mike Bell
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NASHVILLE - Two Republican senators today filed legislation that would cancel Tennessee's current memorandum of understanding on Common Core education standards and create a new panel to recommend new standards for public schools.

"We need the highest standards and we need exemplary college- and work-ready skills," said Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville.

Bell said "we do not need agenda-driven education from Washington or a private business contracted to test the knowledge of students in Tennessee."

The bill establishes a Tennessee Standards Commission with members appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam and fellow Republicans Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell. The commission would then come up with recommendations to present to the state Board of Education, which is solely appointed by Haslam.

It also cancels the current memorandum of understanding with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers for Common Core standards for English Language Arts and Math. Both groups were involved in the push for Common Core standards.

Under the bill, the new Tennessee standards must be in place when students enter classrooms in the 2016-2017 school year.

Earlier this year, Common Core critics forced a delay in Tennessee's testing based on the new standards after conservative groups charged Common Core was the work of President Barack Obama and amounted to a federal effort to take over eduction.

Development of the standards were underway well before Obama became president. But the Obama administration embraced the standards which are intended to put states on the same page with respect to what students should know in math and English.

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