Tennessee education officials trying to implement the federal government's new Common Core academic standards face opposition from a tea party-linked group that also objects to what it considers biased passages in some state-approved textbooks.
In September, the Senate Education Committee held hearings to discuss concerns about the standards that are designed to prepare students for college or a job by the time they graduate from high school. Two months later, the same committee called hearings to review the role of the Tennessee Textbook Commission, which recommends its selection of books to the State Board of Education.
At just about all the hearings were representatives of the Tennessee Eagle Forum, a conservative group that shares many tea party beliefs. It seems to have the strongest influence on Republican lawmakers proposing measures for the upcoming session that seek to change the standards and the textbook commission.
"There will be legislation in January, because we've been working on that," said Eagle Forum president Bobbie Patray. "There are going to be major changes."
At a recent news conference, House Republican leaders told reporters there will be discussion about Common Core and the textbook commission in the upcoming Legislature. They didn't specify any legislation, but said they welcome the input of tea partyers.
"They should have the same rights as anyone else to have their views known, and we need to consider them seriously," said House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga. "We actually agree with most of what they're advocating anyway."