July 30 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Gov. Haslam Seeks NCLB Waiver (News Sentinel/Humphrey and McCoy)

Tennessee will be the first state in the nation to seek a waiver from the performance standards set in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which Gov. Bill Haslam says has “outlived its usefulness” as presently written. Haslam and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman told reporters Friday they would prefer that Congress revise the law, enacted a decade ago at the urging of then-President George W. Bush.

Haslam Seeks Waiver for No Child Left Behind (Associated Press/Johnson)

Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that Tennessee is seeking a waiver to use its revamped education standards to measure schools instead of those mandated by No Child Left Behind, the nation’s governing education law. The Republican governor and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman told reporters in a conference call that the federal standards no longer serve the interest of education reform in Tennessee. 

Haslam Seeking Waiver from No Child Left Behind (TN Report/Zelinski)

Gov. Bill Haslam asked the federal government Friday to let Tennessee opt out of national education standards and replace them with benchmarks set by the state. The governor asked the Department of Education to allow the state to replace the gauges set by No Child Left Behind, the education reform passed under former President George W. Bush, with state-driven indicators.

Tennessee Wants Out of No Child Left Behind (Tennessean)

“Tennessee leaders asked the federal government for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law after learning nearly half the state’s schools did not meet its requirements. Officials in Georgia, New York and several other states have said they may ask for waivers, but Tennessee appears to be the first to do so.

Tennessee seeks waiver from NCLB law; Memphis schools failing federal standards (Commercial Appeal/Roberts)

Tennessee on Friday joined a handful of states seeking a reprieve from the No Child Left Behind law after nearly half of its schools failed last year to make progress at the level the federal law requires.  Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman say Tennessee schools should instead be held to the state’s Race to the Top goals, which are easier to meet than the rising No Child Left Behind standards.

Schools Falling Behind (Times Free Press/Garrett)

Fewer than half of Hamilton County schools earned “good standing” status under federal benchmarks this year, according to state data released Friday.   And for the first time, the district itself was identified as “high priority,” putting the system at risk of sanctions if reading and math scores don’t improve.

Tennessee Requests Waiver for No Child Left Behind (WPLN Radio/Bowden)

Tennessee has filed for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind act. The federal law requires a certain percentage of students to make what is considered Adequate Yearly Progress.

Haslam Asks Obama Team to Waive NCLB standards for state (City Paper/Woods)

With nearly half the state’s schools failing to meet federal education standards in results released Friday, Gov. Bill Haslam asked the Obama administration to waive the law’s requirements for Tennessee.  Haslam said the escalating standards under the federal No Child Left Behind law are impossible to meet and predicted an overwhelming majority of Tennessee schools would fail in the future.

State Seeks Waiver from “No Child Left Behind” program (Memphis Flyer/Baker)

In a conference call/press conference Friday with members of the Tennessee media, Governor Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced that the state has applied for a waiver from the NCLB standards for the coming year. Amplifying on the decision, Huffman advanced the view that the federal program, created under former President George W. Bush, had “outlived its usefulness” and had not been subjected to a re-athorization vote since its creation in 2001.

State Asks Feds for NCLB Waiver (Memphis Daily News/Dries)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says the state is asking federal education officials to give the state a waiver in meeting federal education standards under the No Child Left Behind program. Haslam and Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced the application for the waiver as they released figures for state public school districts measuring average yearly progress (AYP) under NCLB.

Haslam Seeks Waiver from No Child Left Behind (WMC-TV)

Gov. Bill Haslam says Tennessee is seeking a waiver to use its revamped education standards to measure schools instead of those mandated by No Child Left Behind. The Republican governor and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman told reporters in a conference call on Friday that the federal standards no longer serve the interest of education reform in Tennessee.

Gov. Haslam Requests TN be Exempt from No Child Left Behind Standards (Nooga.com)

Citing outdated regulations of Adequate Yearly Progress standards, Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced on Friday the application of Tennessee for a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind standards. In a conference call with reporters, Haslam said he believed that Tennessee was the first state to apply for exemption.

Tennessee Deemed OK for 6 weeks if budget impasse occurs (KNS/Humphrey)

State political leaders say Tennessee’s government should suffer no immediate severe financial problems if their Washington counterparts miss the deadline for raising the national debt ceiling. But the long-term outlook could be grim.

Amazon Announces Tennessee ‘Fulfillment Center’ 3.0 (TN Report/Morrow)

Upping the stakes and adding drama to the Amazon.com tax collection dilemma in Tennessee, the company announced plans Thursday for a 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Lebanon. The company said the facility will create hundreds of full-time jobs and that it plans to open the site this fall.

Haslam Talks Roads, Jobs and Education during visit to P-I

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam talked about roads, jobs and the importance of education for recruiting new industries to the state during his visit to The Post-Intelligencer Wednesday morning. After six months in office, the Republican governor has been touring the state in recent days, revisiting some of the places he’d last seen while on the campaign trail.

Federal Cash Funding Sidewalks, Bike Trails (TN Report/Zelinski)

While the state is bracing itself for a possible downgrade in its bond rating, Gov. Bill Haslam is handing out jumbo checks to fund quarter-million-dollar courthouse sidewalks, $600,000 bike trails and other such “non-traditional transportation projects.”“Programs like this will be a lot harder to come by in the future,” Haslam said after announcing a $69,700 walkway project in Spring Hill. 

Law Requiring Photo ID puts some Tennessee voters in a tizzy (CA/Lollar)

The Republican-backed campaign to require photo IDs for Tennessee voters ended in June, but passage of the photo ID bill still angers Memphian Michael Blanner, who invites legislators to “pucker up and kiss my grits.”  Blanner, 63, says he can be “a crank sometimes.” .

DCS looking into allegations that boys were sexually assaulted at Baptist youth camp (Associated Press)

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is looking into allegations that boys were sexually abused at a youth camp used by Baptist churches. Rob Johnson, a spokesman for the department, said Friday that a team of investigators is looking into multiple allegations that youths were assaulted at Camp Linden in Perry County.

Tennessee Regents OK Lambuth Deal (Commercial Appeal/Moore)

The Tennessee Board of Regents approved on Friday the next step toward the University of Memphis’ acquisition of the Lambuth University campus in Jackson. On Thursday the Tennessee Higher Education Commission approved the feasibility study to take over the campus, a study that included $3.5 million for safety repairs and $15 million in longer-term maintenance.

Three Knox Schools added to ‘high priority list;’ Two taken off (News Sentinel/McCoy)

Three Knox County schools were added to the state’s “high priority” list, meaning they failed to meet federal academic benchmarks, according to Annual Yearly Progress data released Friday by the Tennessee Department of Education. Two other schools, however, were taken off the list for making significant improvements, the data showed.

Members of Tennessee Delegation Send Letter to Education Secretary

Members of the Tennessee U.S. congressional delegation announced today that they have sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan supporting Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s request for a waiver of the provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind.  The full text of the letter, dated July 29, 2011, and signed by Senators Alexander and Corker and Representatives Roe, Duncan, Fleischmann, DesJarlais, Cooper, Black, Blackburn, Fincher and Cohen, follows, and a PDF of the signed letter is attached.

Tennessee House members split on debt decision (Tennessean/Bewley)

Middle Tennessee’s U.S. House members mostly agree on what a debt deal should do: cut spending, rein in long-term deficits and raise the debt limit to avoid default.  But they disagree on the best way to get there.

U.S. Debt Stalemate Stokes Middle Tennesseans Fears (Tennessean)

Bobbie Bradshaw normally doesn’t pay much attention to politics, but the debt crisis gripping Washington has her on edge. The Centerville woman worries the impasse could lead to cuts in her Social Security and Medicare benefits and increase the financial burden on her children and grandchildren.

VW Hits 2,000 Workers at Chattanooga Plant (Times Free Press/Pare)

Volkswagen has hired its 2,000th employee at its Chattanooga auto assembly plant, the company said today.  Amanda Sullivan of Cleveland, Tenn., was the 2,000th employee to be hired.

Lessons of Lower Ratings (Wall Street Journal)

With the U.S. flirting with default and a credit-ratings downgrade, investors are once again in uncharted waters.  But while a default by a country with the global position of the U.S. would likely wreak havoc on financial markets, history suggests that losing a triple-A credit rating may not bring with it the big market disruptions that some fear.

OPINION

Bipartisan support garners state beautiful treasure (Tennessean/guest columnist)

In Tennessee, we’re fortunate that land conservation has bipartisan support. While divisive politics in Washington threaten our economic future, Tennessee’s politicians come together to conserve a natural treasure — beautiful Cummins Falls.

Trying to Cope with Voter ID (Commercial Appeal)

Tennessee’s new photo identification law is a solution in search of a problem that voters will have to deal with unless courts rule that it is an unconstitutional infringement on access to the polls.  The voter ID law was taken from boiler plate legislation drafted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

Tea Party Destruction (Chattanooga Times)

The concessions Republican House Speaker John Boehner has had to make to get his party’s far-right tea party wing to pass a meaningless bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling is emblematic of the craziness surrounding what has become a huge and damaging crisis of confidence in the U.S. dollar, in America’s political stability, and this nation’s good faith and credit. But that is just the tip of the iceberg headed toward the Tuesday deadline.

Debt Debate Rightly Focuses on Spending (Chattanooga Free Press)

While it is alarming that in three days our nation will not have enough money to pay all its debts, it is refreshing that the real debate in Washington on avoiding the partial default that would cause is between Republicans who want significant spending cuts and other Republicans who want even bigger cuts.  So at least the discussion is going in the right direction.