This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Governor Bill Haslam wants to open the door for larger classes in Tennessee’s schools. The governor says with bigger classes, local school boards will need fewer teachers, and be able to pay the remaining teachers more.
A bill in the Tennessee legislature could give the state’s new procurement officer broad discretion to award contracts without competitive bidding, a change that critics say would upend decades of practice. The state Senate is debating a bill that would let Tennessee’s top purchaser negotiate directly with suppliers whenever he or she determines that talks are “in the best interest of the state.
For motorists leaving Sevierville on Sunday afternoons, state Highway 66 toward Interstate 40 looks more like a parking lot than a thoroughfare and that’s not good news. For businesses along that stretch, it’s an even worse sign.
Williamson mayor wants justice just for juvenile court Time and again, Judge Al Nations has asked Williamson County to hire a third judge to help manage the growing caseload in the General Sessions Court. He was rebuffed each time.
The sponsor of legislation that seeks to strengthen a Tennessee law prohibiting the tattooing of minors says the measure also would help fight gang activity, even though critics lament the proposal could be burdensome. Currently, a person under 18 cannot get a tattoo.
Church Hill Middle School cheerleaders were recently honored with a Senate proclamation congratulating them for obtaining “their stellar achievements as national cheerleading champions.” The proclamation was sponsored by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, and signed by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville.
Forum brings out frustrations Middle Tennessee teachers say changes to education coming from state lawmakers are making it tougher to meet the challenges they face in the classroom. About 100 teachers from Nashville and surrounding areas shared their frustrations at a town hall meeting taped at Nashville Public Television studios Sunday.
When the Susan G. Komen foundation ended grants to Planned Parenthood, it sparked a fierce backlash felt even in Nashville. Incensed supporters waltzed into health clinics here and wrote checks on the spot, contributing to the $3 million Planned Parenthood raised nationally in the three days it took the Komen foundation to reverse itself.
Nearly two dozen ministers from different denominations are launching a local voter empowerment movement in Chattanooga to make sure no person who is eligible and wants to vote is denied the right. “Under no means whatsoever will the vote be held back,” said the Rev. Kenneth Love, pastor of St. Paul AME Church and executive director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.
Several challengers to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann are ready to debate immediately — 172 days before the Aug. 2 primary election. “Now let’s debate!!” Weston Wamp wrote online Feb. 6. “Wamp v. Mayfield v. Fleischmann.
GOP candidates’ remarks familiar When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls President Barack Obama a “food-stamp president,” he’s appealing to core Republican values of self-reliance, independence from government and the indisputable supremacy of capitalism. But some Tennessee critics hear another, more troubling message lying beneath Gingrich’s words about the nation’s first black chief executive.
Lawmakers in at least four states are considering legislation that would make students repeat third grade if they can’t pass state reading exams, reviving debates about whether retaining students boosts achievement or increases their odds of dropping out A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Colorado introduced legislation early this month that would prod schools to hold back children in kindergarten through third grade who don’t meet state reading standards. In the early grades, parents could insist the child be promoted, but at third grade, the school district would have the ultimate say.
The annual release of the president’s budget request is always a big deal in Oak Ridge, where federal dollars are like oxygen. But today’s rollout of President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 seems even more important than usual, perhaps because of the political street fight taking place in Washington, D.C., over deficits and spending levels.
Rhea County schools will use Race to the Top funds to provide after-school and summer remedial instruction for pupils in danger of not passing from third to fourth grades, board of education members decided. Director of Schools Jerry Levengood asked that the board approve the $23,000 program that will target 91 at-risk pupils to prepare them for TCAP testing this spring. Eight teachers and 11 college students will begin working with the children this week after school until the state tests are administered in April.
School merger panel copes amid distractions Between bites of a footlong veggie on wheat, University of Memphis law professor Daniel Kiel shot questions at special education administrators for Memphis City and Shelby County Schools during a late afternoon session in the basement of the SCS administration building. The experts sat side by side taking turns explaining each of 35 templates stacked neatly on a table in front of them. Each template detailed one aspect of special ed and how SCS handles it in one column and how MCS handles it in the second, and what the two districts have in common in the third, from programs for blind students to how school psychologists are deployed.
Representatives from the Tennessee School Boards Association will be in town Wednesday to seek input from residents on the next director of Rutherford County Schools. A meeting is planned with local elected officials and members of the business community for noon that day at B. McNeel’s restaurant on North Church Street.
James Ladwig recently took over the job of Racine County executive. He was sworn in last April, not long after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a controversial bill curtailing the bargaining rights of state and local workers.
Tennessee and Georgia’s inclusion on the list of 10 states to get waivers from some requirements of the Federal No Child Left Behind education legislation can be viewed as a form of relief for the states and their schools, and as confirmation that the states’ own reform efforts have merit. The waivers, however, aren’t get of jail free cards. The 10 states still must meet rigorous criteria, though the waiver provides a welcome flexibility in meeting those benchmarks.
The nation is awaiting a monumental decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, two years old on March 23. Debate before the high court begins on March 26 and will last three days. A decision is expected by late June.
If you spend any time in a public school, you quickly realize that each school is a sort of village, where a number of different people work together to create a productive learning environment for our children. Bus drivers, teaching assistants, janitors, cafeteria cooks, secretaries, crossing guards — all are part of a team that provides teachers the support they need to enrich our children’s educational experience.
There is a great irony in arguments put forth against requiring photo ID at polling places. Namely, it’s that one often has to present legitimate ID to do things such as rent movies or open bank accounts. And yet, when it comes to the far more important activity of voting for those who will represent us in government, some say that no such ID should be necessary — that it is somehow not important to be sure that the people who are selecting everyone from city council members to the president of the United States are who they claim to be.
Avoiding the status quo: Suburban leaders should listen to structural options that could provide the school autonomy they seek. The Transition Planning Commission’s willingness to talk about organizational structures that contain various school autonomy scenarios is a wise move.
It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.