This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam says more than $2.7 million in workforce development grants for two Memphis colleges can help meet Tennessee’s need for qualified workers. Haslam announced the grants Monday at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis. The college is receiving $1.2 million for equipment to enhance its Avionics and Aircraft Maintenance and Advanced Manufacturing programs. Haslam says every graduate of the college gets placed in a job. Southwest Tennessee Community College is getting $1.5 million for its mechatronics program.
Gov. Bill Haslam awarded $2.7 million in grants Monday to two technical schools here that cannot produce graduates fast enough to meet local employers’ needs. The money will be divided between Tennessee College of Applied Technology campuses here and Southwest Tennessee Community College. At TCAT Memphis campus near the airport, $550,000 will be used to buy an additional cockpit simulator for the 18-month programs in aircraft mechanics and avionics. The investment will allow the schools to admit 90 more students per year, nearly a 30 percent increase.
Governor Bill Haslam made a big contribution aimed at training Memphians to be better prepared for the changing job market. Haslam presented $2.7 million in workforce development grants to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College Monday. TCAT-Memphis will receive $1.2 million for equipment to enhance its Avionics and Aircraft Maintenance and Advanced Manufacturing programs. SWTCC is getting $1.5 million for its mechatronics program.
The Tennessee College of Applied Technology–Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College will receive more than $2.77 million in workforce development grants from the state of Tennessee. During an announcement at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Aviation Campus, Gov. Bill Haslam explained how the funding would be used for job training programs at both schools. TCAT will receive $550,000 and $663,398 to provide equipment for its avionics, aircraft maintenance and advanced manufacturing programs.
There’s a stubborn mindset in Tennessee – where college-going rates lag most of the country. Government officials trying to boost education levels say people just don’t see the need, despite dire forecasts that a majority of jobs will require a degree by 2025. In a handful of rural counties, fewer than one-in-10 working-age adults went to college. And while money, proximity to campuses and even broadband access all play a role, state leaders say the primary stumbling block may be cultural. “The biggest barrier we have is the low expectations we have – for ourselves and for our children,” says Randy Boyd, special assistant to Governor Bill Haslam on higher education.
The governor’s conference on tourism kicks off on Tuesday. The conference is being held in Franklin and will conclude on Thursday. Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker will present the “State of the Industry” address Wednesday morning. Last month, Whitaker was named the 2013 State Tourism Director of the Year by the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors. Gov. Bill Haslam is scheduled to speak at the conference on Thursday.
In its report, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development predicted an employment growth rate of 1.2 percent. Occupational therapists, vocational education teachers, and dental hygienists, as well as computer-controlled machine tool operators and psychiatric aides are among the occupations expected in demand. In terms of the largest number of anticipated job openings for Tennesseans with college degrees, officials said there could be more than 2,000 jobs for registered nurses and 1,100 elementary school teacher positions.
Conservative activists say there’s plenty to dislike about Common Core math and reading standards now in place in Tennessee. But they have even more objections with science and history. The social studies standards take effect in 2014, and Hal Rounds of Somerville says he sees a clear point of view that disagrees with his own philosophy. “If you look at what they say about capitalism, in some cases, they say that capitalism allows people free choice but ends up in unequal distribution, as though that were bad.”
Tennessee ranks last in the nation for spending on schools, and only about half of that money makes it into actual classrooms. Those are the findings of two studies, issued by two very different organizations. The Education Law Center is a liberal group that advocates for spending more on classrooms with the poorest students. The ELC gave Tennessee a C for policies that give a little extra help to the students who have the least. But looking at the overall totals for 2009, the ELC found that Tennessee spent less per pupil than any other state. Tennessee also ranked last for the percent of its gross domestic product earmarked for education.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency is warning boaters and fisherman about an invasive species of fish that can jump as high as 10 feet into the air Asian, or Silver, carp have become notorious for being easily frightened by boats and personal watercraft, which causes them to leap high from the water. There have been many reports of the fish, some weighing as much as 40 pounds, jumping into boats and hitting skiers. “They’re in Nashville in Cheatham Lake which is really the Cumberland River that goes through downtown. That’s actually called Cheatham Reservoir,” explained Bobby Wilson, Chief of Fisheries for the TWRA.
Tennessee ’s U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said Monday he has a better universal health-care plan for Americans to consider in coming days. And on Wednesday he plans to submit to Congress his alternative to President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, which is set to roll out in full force in coming months. “You always hear that Republicans have no replacement,” Roe, R-Johnson City , said Monday. “So I did that.” The Tennessee congressman initially touted the work as an aside late Monday morning after stepping into Virginia to stump on behalf Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s bid for governor.
Under the Affordable Care Act, more insurance plans are expected to start covering the cost of obesity treatments, including counseling on diet and exercise as well as medications and surgery. These are treatments that most insurance companies don’t cover now. The move is a response to the increasing number of health advocates and medical groups that say obesity should be classified as a disease. Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, but this summer, the American Medical Association determined that obesity is a disease.
Hiring is soft. Pay is barely up. Consumers are cautious. Economic growth has yet to pick up. And yet on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to take its first step toward reducing the extraordinary stimulus it’s supplied to help the U.S. economy rebound from its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. If it does, the Fed will likely spark a debate: Has the economy strengthened enough to withstand the pullback? The answer might not be clear for months. The Fed is meeting this week at a time of deepening uncertainty about who will succeed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term ends in January.
Organized labor may have backed President Obama, but America’s biggest unions don’t like the idea he floated in April to consider selling the Tennessee Valley Authority. Labor unions representing more than 13 million American workers today approved a resolution to “fight to prevent the transfer of the publicly-funded Tennessee Valley Authority to private interests.” President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget includes language aimed at the potential transfer of TVA to private interests. “Privatization of TVA is a very bad idea,” said Gay Henson, president of Engineering Association/ IFTPE Local 1937 in Chattanooga.
State and local elected leaders, education officials and business leaders have really revved up the conversation about increasing the number of Tennesseans with college degrees to help the state compete better for 21st century jobs. During a conversation last week with The Commercial Appeal’s editorial board, Tennessee State University’s new president, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, brought up another element of the college-graduation equation: It is one thing to get graduating high school seniors into college and quite another to get them to graduate within six years. Glover, a Memphis native and TSU alumna, began her term as president earlier this year.
A battle over public records erupted at a meeting of the Tennessee Ethics Commission last week, and Attorney General Robert Cooper has been asked to play peacemaker. Linda Knight, a former Ethics Commission member acting as attorney for the Tennessee Disability Coalition, argued that commissioners could not release multiple documents involving an ethics probe into the coalition’s lobbyist. The commission’s attorney, John Allyn, and Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, suggest Knight’s interpretation of the relevant laws was overly broad.
We were pleased last week to learn plans are progressing for improvements to Interstate 40 and the intersection of Casey Jones Lane/Carriage House Drive and the U.S. 45 Bypass in Jackson. State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge arranged for John Schroer, the state commissioner of transportation, to come to Jackson and meet with local officials and businessmen. Schroer reported that the improvements are being designed. The project, estimated at about $100 million, has several facets: The widening of I-40 in Jackson from four to six lanes; the complete redesign of the interchanges at the U.S. 45 Bypass and at North Highland Avenue; and the realignment of the intersection just south of I-40 near Casey Jones Village.
Even as the cost of higher education skyrockets, its benefits are increasingly being called into doubt. We’re familiar with laments from graduates who emerge from college burdened with student loans and wondering if their studies have prepared them for jobs and careers. A less familiar but even more troubling problem is that their education did not prepare them for responsible civic life. The decline in education means a decline in the ability of individuals—and ultimately the nation as a whole—to address political, social and moral matters in effective, considered ways. The trouble begins before college.