The bill to line Tennessee up for “Race to the Top” federal education funds was approved in the Senate by a 29-3 vote.
The legislation sets the state up as a stronger competitor for the federal grant by creating an “achievement” school district to adopt failing schools and require teacher evaluations to factor in student test scores.
“I can absolutely guarantee you to 100 percent, if we don’t do this, those children will continue to have an education that is second class in Tennessee,” said Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, the Senate Democratic leader who sponsored the bill.
The three who voted against the bill included Sens. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet; Thelma Harper, D-Nashville; and Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis.
Objections ranged from a lack of minority representation on a special education commission to invading state sovereignty.
House members were caucusing early afternoon and expect to pick up the bill for floor debate beginning at 3:30.
The Senate will be back in session at 6 p.m. to work out any differences between the House and Senate bills if the House version passes.