Articles by: Blake Farmer

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.

Jesse Register. Credit: Belmont University

Nashville Schools Superintendent May Disagree With State Takeover, But He’s Not Fighting It

December 1, 2014 at 4:46 am

This week teachers, parents and students at Neely’s Bend and Madison middle schools in Nashville will make a final plea to stay out of state control. But Metro Schools superintendent Jesse Register says he won’t fight the state takeover, even though he expects to disagree with the final decision.

House Speaker Beth Harwell is being challenged by the conservative wing of the legislature for being too close to Governor Bill Haslam, pictured together here at an education summit. Credit: TN Photo Services

Are Legislative Leaders Too Cozy With Haslam? Governor Defends Ties

November 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

The conservative wing of the Tennessee legislature has accused House leadership of being too cozy with the governor’s office. Bill Haslam is defending his ties, suggesting coziness is preferred over conflict.

Nashville's top health official is making the case that the Amp could improve the health of the city's residents. (Photo Credit: Mayor's Office)

Mayor Says Congress Stopped The Amp

November 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Nashville’s mayor is now saying it was never realistic to think funding for a bus rapid transit line would come through before his term ends, blaming congressional gridlock.

In the state report card for the last school year, KIPP Nashville showed top marks across the board for value added scores, while listing nearly 90 percent of students as "economically disadvantaged." (Image via KIPP Academy)

Nashville Has Nowhere Near Too Many Charter Schools, Mayor Dean Says

November 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is beating back critics who say the city’s 19 charter schools are enough for now.

Tom Perez is the U.S. Secretary of Labor. He's been so fascinated by Volkswagen's relationship with unions, he visited the automaker in Germany. Credit: Dept. of Labor

Labor Secretary Wants Volkswagen’s Tennessee Plant To Become A Model

November 24, 2014 at 4:46 am

The U.S. Secretary of Labor is fresh off a trip to Wolfsburg, Germany, which had a very Tennessee connection.

TV networks opted not to air President Obama's speech, so immigrants gathered to watch the announcement together. Credit: David Wright Smith

Nashville Immigrants Cheer Executive Action, Legislators Prep Legal Action

November 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

While they hoped for more, Nashville immigrants cheered President Obama’s announcement to focus deportation efforts on criminals. Legislators want Governor Bill Haslam to file suit.

Aspire is a charter school in Memphis that is part of the Achievement School District. The ASD has 23 schools for the 2014-15 school year. Five are directly run by the district. The rest are run by charter organizations. Brick Church College Prep is the only ASD school in Nashville. The rest are in Memphis. Credit: TN Photo Services

Two Nashville Schools Must Show Why They Shouldn’t Be Taken Over By The State

November 21, 2014 at 12:01 am

Two Nashville middle schools have one last chance to save themselves from state takeover.

Soldiers from the 159th CAB, 101st Airborne Division conduct joint Medevac training. Credit: John Giaquinto via DVIDS

Fort Campbell Losing Another 2,400 Soldiers In Army Downsizing

November 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm

The 159th Combat Aviation Brigade based at Fort Campbell has likely flown its final mission. The Pentagon has reportedly chosen to phase out the unit as part of a larger Army restructuring related to sequestration.

Diane Ravitch, who writes a popular education blog and teaches at New York University, met with fans following an event at Vanderbilt University Wednesday night. In attendance were teachers union officials and some Metro school board members. Credit: David Wright Smith

Diane Ravitch Cheered By Anti Education Reform Crowd In Nashville

November 20, 2014 at 5:50 am

A Nashville crowd of 400 was enthralled with education reform naysayer Diane Ravitch from the moment she was introduced by Metro school board member Amy Frogge to when she left the stage.

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez (right) toured LetterLogic, a Nashville invoice processor, which pays employees a starting wage of $12 an hour. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Labor Secretary Beats The Drum On Minimum Wage In Nashville

November 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Governor Bill Haslam said this week that raising Tennessee’s minimum wage would be a non-starter in the legislature. But the U.S. Secretary of Labor believes a majority of Tennesseans would welcome such a pay hike.

Industrial hemp can look so much like marijuana, even experts say it can be difficult to tell apart. Credit: Arcatan via Flickr

Tennessee Farmers Are Stoked About Planting Hemp, But Not About Following The Rules

November 18, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Some farmers are chafing at Tennessee’s tight regulation of hemp, sounding off at a hearing on the rules held by the Agriculture Department Tuesday.

The Williamson County school board has been meeting in recent weeks to discuss Common Core and whether to pass a resolution in opposition. Credit: David Wright Smith

Tennessee School Boards Want Input On Picking Education Commissioner

November 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Tennessee’s school board members are hoping for a new education commissioner who might be more receptive to their views. Kevin Huffman, who announced late last week he’s stepping down, was seen – at times – as dismissive of local districts.

Governor Bill Haslam launched a review of Common Core earlier this month, and he says he really does plan to pay attention to the comments. Credit: TN Photo Services

Tennessee’s Common Core Review Yields 15,000 Comments And Counting

November 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm

In a process that began just 10 days ago, more than 15,000 comments have been submitted as part of a review of Common Core State Standards. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he really does intend to listen.

Nashville’s Public Schools May Have A New Expectation Of Teachers: Door-To-Door Recruiting

Nashville’s Public Schools May Have A New Expectation Of Teachers: Door-To-Door Recruiting

November 17, 2014 at 3:59 am

Taking a cue from charter schools, some of Nashville’s undercapacity traditional schools have started canvassing for students. Some teachers are embracing the marketing role, even while acknowledging its just one more unpaid duty for educators.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said he was brought to Tennessee to be a "change agent." He has defended Common Core standards, stayed the course on stepped-up teacher evaluations and unsuccessfully defended the state's participation in Common Core testing. Credit: TN Photo Services

Tennessee’s Lightning Rod Education Commissioner Steps Down, Citing Toll Of The Job

November 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Governor Bill Haslam is going to have to find a new education commissioner for his second term. Kevin Huffman, who has often found himself at the center of controversy, is calling it quits after four years.

Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, right, at the dedication of Ebola treatment unit ceremony in Tubmanburg, Liberia, on Monday. Credit: DVIDS

101st Airborne Commander Says He Shouldn’t Need Reinforcements

November 13, 2014 at 6:24 am

The commander of the 101st Airborne Division will brief family members at Fort Campbell today via video conference from Liberia. Roughly 700 soldiers from the post are helping build Ebola treatment centers.

The East Nashville Advisory Committee met in the same room where there was an uproar Sunday night, in a meeting organized by parent activists with East Nashville United. Credit: David Wright Smith

How Much Input Will An East Nashville School Overhaul Advisory Panel Get?

November 13, 2014 at 5:41 am

In its first meeting, a special advisory committee for an East Nashville school overhaul heard an update for plans from central office administrators. But community organizer John Haubenreich says he heard too much from the district.