Inside, Chamber members listened to presentations about the standards from representatives from Bradley County and Cleveland City schools as well as State Collaborative on Reforming Education representative Jared Bingham. The meeting was the regular scheduled meeting of the Chambers Public Affairs committee.
Dan Rawls of the Bradley County Tea Party orchestrated the representation of Tennessee Against Common Core through email solicitation.
Five showed up in response.
“I would consider five people a success; that’s the way I look at it,” Rawls said.
Rawls said members at the Chamber meeting were only seeing one view of Common Core.
“Since they are taxpayer supported, then this should be an open forum to anyone, and anyone should be allowed to speak,” Rawls said
Rawls said he had contacted the Chamber about having Tea Party representation speak about Common Core. Someone who contacted the Chamber on behalf of the group “was told it was for contributing members only.”
An email request had said the meeting was open to the public, said Rawls. Later a phone call from the Chamber said it was for members only.
“All of a sudden, the whole thing had flipped. And I don’t see how when you are accepting taxpayer money that this could be considered acceptable,” Rawls said.
Protester Bill Bracken alleged that limiting the meeting to members only could possibly be a violation of Tennessee law because it is governmentally funded.
“The fault that I raise with this is they are only seeing one side from people who have to protect their turf. In order to get a good education and make a reasonable decision, you have to hear both sides of the argument,” Barbara Gilbert said.
Bracken pointed out those presenting to the Chamber from SCORE have a vested interest in promoting Common Core.
“He owes his family’s dinner table to Common Core. There is no one I know of who is against Common Core who receives a dime,” Bracken said. “Our kids’ futures are too important to let the dollars drive what they are not taught.”
Bracken also expressed concern about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funding Common Core initiatives.
In a phone interview, Public Affairs Committee Chairman Cameron Fisher said the committee usually hears from political leaders on public issues. A request had been made by committee members to have a presentation on Common Core, so it was chosen as this month’s topic.
Fisher said the meeting had presentations from Bingham, Cleveland City Schools director Martin Ringstaff, Bradley County Schools director Johnny McDaniel, Taylor Elementary principal Elizabeth Kaylor and Cleveland High School principal Autumn O’Bryan. The speakers also participated in a question and answer session.