Education

Final Drafts Of Pivotal Legislation Could Be Written By Small, Select Groups Of Lawmakers

Final Drafts Of Pivotal Legislation Could Be Written By Small, Select Groups Of Lawmakers

by / on April 15, 2014

Methamphetamine, Nashville’s proposed bus line, and a new statewide test tied to the Common Core: All three have led to dueling proposals in the state House and Senate, and all three are being hashed out by select groups of six lawmakers, known as conference committees.

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House Democratic Leader Craigh Fitzhugh (center) and Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (right) say to gain ground they have to capitalize on rifts in the GOP supermajority. (Photo courtesy Sean Braisted)

Amid GOP Rifts Over Guns And Vouchers, Democrats Claim Small Victories

by / on April 15, 2014

Democrats are claiming victory for a series of legislative misfires over the last two days, pointing to the demise of a pair of controversial gun bills as well as a hard-fought school vouchers plan. But the bills’ failures may have as much to do with Republican infighting.

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State Charter Authorizer Legislation Sent To Governor

State Charter Authorizer Legislation Sent To Governor

by / on April 14, 2014

Charter schools trying to open in Tennessee could soon get permission directly from the state school board, if their local school district refuses. Legislation letting the state function as a so-called “charter authorizer” is on its way to the governor.

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"We have the (Common Core) standards, but the implementation and the testing are still concerns," Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris told reporters Thursday. "A lot has been passed this year that deals with concerns we had about Common Core - not the standards, but curriculum, and data mining, and all those issues - and I think when the dust settles and people have a chance to look back and focus on some of these pretty voluminous bills, they'll see that we addressed a lot of the concerns that the public had about 'Common Core,' quote unquote, in general." (Photo: Daniel Potter/WPLN)

Scratch One For Common Core Skeptics: Deal May Delay Statewide Test

by / on April 11, 2014

A push to delay the test, known as the PARCC, set to start next school year, has been a flashpoint in the state legislature this spring.

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Lawmakers Grant In-State Tuition To Children Of Undocumented Immigrants

Lawmakers Grant In-State Tuition To Children Of Undocumented Immigrants

by / on April 7, 2014

The bill passed the House 63 to 27, with little debate, marking a distinct shift from a few years ago, when lawmakers called such young people “anchor babies” and sought to make Tennessee a less welcoming place for undocumented immigrants.

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Dr. Claire Smrekar has a particular research focus on school choices, such as charter schools. Credit: Steve Green / Vanderbilt

Even If Vouchers Pass, Vanderbilt Expert Finds Few Available Seats At Private Schools

by / on April 7, 2014

Many students who would qualify for private school vouchers would still have nowhere to go, according to a top education researcher at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College. Associate professor Claire Smrekar finds few private schools are interested in accepting vouchers and those who would don’t have that much room.

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Charter schools have to be non-profit entities in order to be authorized, but the bill would let the authorizer also approve contracts with for-profit entities. (Photo: camknows/flickr)

On 8-7 Vote, For-Profit Charter School Operators Approved By House Committee

by / on April 1, 2014

A proposal to let for-profit companies manage Tennessee charter schools is headed for floor votes in both the state House and Senate, after the measure scraped by in a committee Tuesday on an 8 to 7 vote.

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Haslam Cancels Plans To Raise Pay For State Workers, Teachers

Haslam Cancels Plans To Raise Pay For State Workers, Teachers

by / on March 31, 2014

Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee’s tax revenues have continued to sag below projections, and while he expects to avoid layoffs, the shortfall will scuttle planned pay raises for state workers, as well as teachers.

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"Anytime there's a budget shortfall, anytime you don't have money, anytime you make tentative promises about pay raises and they don't come through, of course everyone's frustrated," Casada said. "And I'm sure the governor's frustrated too; we're all frustrated." (Photo via Rep. Glen Casada/Facebook)

Lawmakers Voice Irritation With Haslam’s New Plan For Budget

by / on March 31, 2014

Governor Bill Haslam’s latest budget proposal could be in for a rough ride before it gets approval from state lawmakers, if Monday night was any indicator, as representatives voiced frustration with Haslam’s latest plan.

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Rep. John Forgety (R-Athens) is carrying bills to rework Tennessee teachers' salary schedule and how (if at all) their licenses are tied to student value-added scores.  Both take a second look at policies set last year by the State Board Of Education. (Image via YouTube/capitol.tn.gov)

State Lawmakers Revisit Teacher Salary And Licensure, Say It’s Not A Turf War Or Repudiation

by / on March 31, 2014

Two policies set last summer by Tennessee’s board of education are now being revisited by state lawmakers: how teachers can keep (or lose) their licenses, and how their salary is determined.

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Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris says at issue is whether leftover voucher slots should go to students getting free-and-reduced lunch in districts with schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide, or instead to those zoned for schools in the bottom 10 percent, per the House amendment, which would add in several rural counties. (Photo: WPLN/Daniel Potter)

Haslam’s School Vouchers Bill Lurches Forward, Amid Questions Over Who’s Affected

by / on March 26, 2014

The governor’s school vouchers proposal is back in gear in the state Senate. The bill had stalled amid confusion over which students it would affect, and where in Tennessee.

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Gov. Bill Haslam is under pressure, since a bill passed the state House earlier this month that would set back the test that comes with the Common Core educational standards. (Photo: Daniel Potter/WPLN)

Haslam Ramping Up Defense of Common Core

by / on March 25, 2014

Haslam is trying to win over skeptical legislators, and asking for help from business leaders.

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Sen. Todd Gardenhire opted not to push for a vote on Senate Bill 1951, saying he'll try again to pass it, and didn't want to taint it with a negative vote in the meantime. (Photo: Daniel Potter/WPLN)

For Immigrant Families And In-State Tuition, One Proposal Advances While Another Falls

by / on March 24, 2014

Tennessee senators drew a line Monday, over the cost of college for students whose parents are undocumented immigrants. The Senate voted to let those born in the U.S. pay in-state rates—but sidelined a proposal to help undocumented students born elsewhere.

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Charters Schools Denied By Local Districts Could Soon Turn To State For Approval

Charters Schools Denied By Local Districts Could Soon Turn To State For Approval

by / on March 20, 2014

The state school board could soon get the power to sign off on new charter schools, if a local district refuses. The state Senate signed off Thursday on the proposal, sought by Nashville’s top lawmaker, House Speaker Beth Harwell.

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Failed Proposal To Elect Tennessee School Board Reveals Broader Motivations

Failed Proposal To Elect Tennessee School Board Reveals Broader Motivations

by / on March 19, 2014

It looks like Governor Bill Haslam will keep appointing members of the state school board. But a failed proposal to take that power away reveals the motivations behind a legislative power grab.

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Gov. Bill Haslam's "Tennessee Promise" would make community college free for high school graduates. (Daniel Potter/WPLN file photo)

Compromise On Lottery Scholarship Lets Haslam’s Community College Proposal Move Forward

by / on March 18, 2014

A proposal from the governor called the Tennessee Promise meant to get more students into community colleges got a needed boost Tuesday thanks to a compromise with four-year schools.

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Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) says teachers and parents in his district have asked him to fight the Common Core standards, now in place in math and language-arts classes.

Lawmaker Airs Grievances Against Common Core, But Proposals To Undo It Fail

by / on March 18, 2014

A state lawmaker who’s been itching for a fight over the Common Core educational standards got one yesterday. Rep. Rick Womick brought proposals to discontinue Tennessee’s use of the grade-level benchmarks and their companion test; both were killed in committee.

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Governor Bill Haslam's voucher proposal would be restricted to low-income students in low-performing schools, which are mostly in Memphis and Nashville. Haslam has not made vouchers a priority, instead moving forward reluctantly. Several conservative groups - including the Beacon Center - have made vouchers a core issue. Credit: Elizabeth Albert via Flickr

Is Governor Haslam’s Voucher Proposal Being Pulled For Good?

by / on March 18, 2014

The fate of school vouchers in Tennessee was thrown into doubt Tuesday as the governor’s proposal was effectively withdrawn from consideration in the state House. The sponsoring lawmaker says it’s just a scheduling issue.

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Haslam Leans On Teachers To Sway Public Over Common Core

Haslam Leans On Teachers To Sway Public Over Common Core

by / on March 18, 2014

Governor Bill Haslam is trying to show public opinion is on his side when it comes to Common Core, even if the legislature is turning against him.

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Don’t Just Delay Common Core, Some Lawmakers Say: Repeal It

Don’t Just Delay Common Core, Some Lawmakers Say: Repeal It

by / on March 18, 2014

Legislative wrangling over the Common Core educational standards ramped up a notch Tuesday morning, with state lawmakers weighing a bill to back Tennessee out altogether from the grade-level benchmarks adopted by dozens of states.

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