Governor Finishes Promotional Tour Of ‘Tennessee Promise’ Bill Signings

Governor Finishes Promotional Tour Of ‘Tennessee Promise’ Bill Signings
Gov. Bill Haslam gives out pens to Overton High School students after the final ceremonially signing of the bill. Credit: Micah Bradley / WPLN

Gov. Bill Haslam signed this bill into law today — for the seventh time. He's been holding ceremonies around the state to talk about the push for more college graduates. The legislation will let any Tennessee resident attend community college for free.

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

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

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

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

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

Even If Vouchers Pass, Vanderbilt Expert Finds Few Available Seats At Private Schools
Dr. Claire Smrekar has a particular research focus on school choices, such as charter schools. Credit: Steve Green / Vanderbilt

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

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

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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Lawmakers Voice Irritation With Haslam’s New Plan For Budget

Lawmakers Voice Irritation With Haslam’s New Plan For Budget
"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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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