Articles by: Blake Farmer

Candice McQueen was named Tennessee's next education commissioner at a capitol hill press conference on Wednesday. She will start Jan. 20. Credit: TN Photo Services

Tennessee’s New Education Commissioner Is Known As A Common Core Booster

December 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Governor Bill Haslam named a new education commissioner Wednesday, and she’s one of the biggest supporters of Common Core education standards in the state.

Last year, a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts caused the deaths of 14 Tennesseans due to a meningitis outbreak. Image Courtesy CDC

Pharmacist Responsible For Meningitis Outbreak Charged With 2nd Degree Murder

December 17, 2014 at 11:55 am

Employees and owners of the compounding pharmacy at the center of a fungal meningitis outbreak have been indicted on charges ranging from fraud to 2nd degree murder. Many of the charges stem from cases in Tennessee.

Dennis Williams has been elected UAW president since the failed vote at Volkswagen in February. Credit: UAW via Facebook

UAW: Volkswagen Success May Make It Tougher To Organize In The South, Not Easier

December 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm

The United Auto Workers’ recent recognition at VW in Tennessee – though short of collective bargaining – may make future unionizing more difficult in the region. That’s the opinion of UAW president Dennis Williams, who briefed reporters Monday.

Officer John Downs, 42, is an 18-year police department veteran who is assigned to the Special Response Team. Credit: MNPD

Nashville Police Kill Teen Suspect Who Shot Officer

December 15, 2014 at 5:49 am

Metro Police shot and killed a 16-year-old robbery suspect in Nashboro Village overnight.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. Credit: Office of Sen. Bob Corker via Facebook

Budget Vote Splits Tennessee Senators

December 15, 2014 at 5:40 am

Tennessee’s two Republican senators came down on opposing sides of the $1.1 trillion spending bill that passed over the weekend.

At Neely's Bend, Elliot Smalley represented the Achievement School District and fielded questions from parents and teachers. Credit: David Wright Smith / WPLN

State Picks Nashville’s Neely’s Bend Middle School For Takeover

December 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm

The Achievement School District, which is charged with turning around low-performers, made the announcement Friday afternoon.

Sydney Jordan (right) discusses her health insurance circumstances with a certified counselor, who is waiting on hold for help from the federal Marketplace. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Nashville’s Uninsured Rush To Sign Up For Obamacare Health Plans Before Deadline

December 12, 2014 at 5:50 am

Nashville’s Obamacare Navigators – who help people sign up for insurance plans on the federal Marketplace – are expecting a rush over the weekend. Monday is the last day to apply for coverage and have it kick in by January 1st.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) says she preferred not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and voted for a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government for the next two years. Credit: TN Photo Services

Here’s How Middle Tennessee Congressmen Voted On Last-Minute Spending Bill

December 12, 2014 at 5:23 am

Congresswoman Diane Black was the Nashville area’s only representative to vote for the $1.1 trillion spending bill that passed the House Thursday night.

Metro Schools opened three new pre-K centers this fall, including this facility at Casa Azafran on Nolensville Rd. As of the 2014-2015 school year, the district has 155 classrooms at 57 sites. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Federal Grant Puts Nashville A ‘Giant Step’ Closer To Universal Pre-K

December 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Metro Schools will get $33 million from the federal government over the next four years to expand pre-kindergarten – an amount that comes close to how much the district got from the much-heralded Race to the Top program.

The state charter authorizer at one point would have allowed applicants to come directly to the panel with proposals for any part of the state. Image courtesy North Georgia State

Kirkpatrick Charter Conversion On Hold Over Technicality

December 10, 2014 at 7:54 am

The decision to hand over East Nashville’s Kirkpatrick Elementary to charter school operator KIPP Academy was put on hold Tuesday night.

Thousands of teachers in Tennessee received training on Common Core over the summer. The state has now fully incorporated math and reading standards, though the Common Core testing has yet to begin. Credit: Education Plus via Flickr

Governor Haslam Moves To Lower Stakes Of Standardized Testing

December 10, 2014 at 6:17 am

The administration has outlined a series of steps in an effort to “support teachers.”

Volkswagen's workers voted in February and narrowly rejected representation by the UAW following intense pressure from Republican politicians. Credit: VW

UAW Wins Long-Awaited Recognition At Volkswagen, Though No Collective Bargaining

December 9, 2014 at 5:52 am

Volkswagen has formally recognized the United Auto Workers after a years-long effort by the union to organize at the Chattanooga plant. A note was distributed to its 1,500 hourly employees Monday afternoon.

Federally-trained Certified Application Counselors and Obamacare Navigators helped uninsured Nashvillians sign up for coverage on Monday. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Doomed From The Start: Tennessee May Just Scrap Computer System For Determining Who Gets Medicaid

December 9, 2014 at 4:39 am

TennCare hired Northrop Grumman to build a system that supposed to be done a year and a half ago and remains nowhere near complete.

Darin Gordon is the head of TennCare, which has grown by 120,000 this year even though the state has not expanded who qualifies for the health coverage. Credit: TN Photo Services

TennCare Swells Under First Year Of Health Insurance Mandate

December 8, 2014 at 4:18 am

The number of Tennesseans on Medicaid has shot up by 120,000 since the beginning of the year, according to newly released data from TennCare.

Metro Schools superintendent Jesse Register will visit each of the schools in East Nashville to explain what a "choice zone" might look like. The meeting pictured here is from Inglewood Elementary, which is well under capacity. Credit: Emily West / WPLN

Kirkpatrick Elementary Will Be Handed Over To KIPP Charter Schools

December 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Metro Schools has come to a decision on which elementary will be handed over to charter operator KIPP Academy. Kirkpatrick will be making a year-by-year conversion starting next fall, according to a press release issued Thursday afternoon.

Gen. David Rodriguez heads U.S. Africa Command. He briefed reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday on the military's mission in Liberia. Credit: DoD

Fort Campbell Soldiers Deployed To Liberia Could Start Returning In January

December 4, 2014 at 8:12 am

The Army’s mission in Liberia in response to the Ebola virus has been scaled back, according to Pentagon officials.

Chris Barbic leads Tennessee's experimental Achievement School District, which is charged with turning around the state's lowest performing schools in a matter of five years. Credit: ASD

A ‘Data War’ Erupts Over Whether The State Should Take Over A Nashville School

December 4, 2014 at 4:08 am

The state’s plan to take over one of two struggling middle schools in Nashville has spurred a firefight using standardized test scores as ammo.

Interview: Haslam On ‘Threading The Needle’ With Medicaid Expansion

Interview: Haslam On ‘Threading The Needle’ With Medicaid Expansion

December 3, 2014 at 4:53 am

Tennessee has one of the few Republican governors still actively looking for a way to expand Medicaid to cover the working poor. Governor Bill Haslam compares his effort to “threading a needle.”

A worker at Nissan's Smyrna plant, where the LEAF is made. Sales of the electric car rose 319%. Credit: Nissan

Nissan’s November Sales May Be More Realistic After Discount-Induced Streak

December 2, 2014 at 6:24 pm

A year-long growth streak for Nissan went in reverse for November, but analysts say the month’s sales figures may be more realistic.

Interview: Governor Haslam Justifies Corporate Subsidies Even When Money Is Tight

Interview: Governor Haslam Justifies Corporate Subsidies Even When Money Is Tight

December 2, 2014 at 4:50 am

Tennessee’s multi-million dollar corporate subsidies don’t get quite the same public scrutiny that the state budget is getting this week in live-streamed hearings with Governor Bill Haslam. So in an interview with WPLN, we press Haslam to justify his recent spending on economic development incentives, especially since he’s been asking for much of state government to do more with less.