Categories
Press Releases

Alexander, Corker, Blackburn File Legislation to Allow Songwriters to Receive Fair Market Compensation

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; March 4, 2015:

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 – U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), along with U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and others, today introduced legislation that would allow songwriters to receive compensation based on the fair market value of their songs.

The Songwriter Equity Act would amend federal law to allow songwriters to receive market-based compensation and would remove government price controls. Hatch is a songwriter himself and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee that would consider the legislation. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is also a cosponsor in the Senate. Collins serves as the Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. In addition to Blackburn and Collins, U.S. Reps.Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) are also cosponsors in the House.

Alexander said: “Italy has its art, Egypt has its pyramids, Napa Valley has its wines and Nashville has its songwriters. Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, and their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs – so that when they write a hit heard around the world, you can see it in their billfolds. My hope is that in this new Congress, we will pass this legislation to help give our nation’s songwriters the fair pay they have earned.”

Corker said: “Music showcases the incredible talent and vision of Tennesseans – its songwriters, musicians, and small and large businesses – across the country and around the world. Unfortunately, it’s easy for some to forget the countless people who bring to life the music we enjoy each day. We turn the knob, hit the button, click the mouse, and our favorite songs are there. As technology advances, it’s important that we remember where the music begins and modernize the way songwriters are compensated for their work.”

Hatch said: “The music business is among the toughest and most competitive industries, and our songwriters and composers should not have to accept below-market rates for their work. Ensuring that they are able to receive the fair market value for their songs is the right thing to do.”

Blackburn said: “Behind every great song is a great songwriter who deserves to be fairly compensated for their creative works. I am happy to once again join my House and Senate colleagues in this bipartisan effort to ensure fairness for our songwriters.”

Collins said: “In my home state of Georgia alone, there are close to 50,000 songwriters who have dedicated their lives to a talent and a calling that, in my view, God gave them. It is critical to ensure that songwriters – the engines that drive the music industry – are compensated fairly for their work. Copyright laws were never intended to create barriers to creativity that forces songwriters to sell their intellectual property at below-market rates. Congress should write laws that not only promote creation and pay creators, but also remain relevant even in times of rapid technological change. The Songwriter Equity Act is a vital step toward a music licensing system built on free market principles and fair compensation to creators. ”

The legislation would allow songwriters to receive market-based compensation and remove government price controls in two ways:

  • First, it would direct the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads and CD purchases, replacing the current below-market standard.
  • Second, it would remove a provision of law that narrows the scope of evidence the federal rate court may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert.

Songwriter compensation is dictated by the federal government. The rate of compensation that is set by the Copyright Royalty Board has increased only 7 cents over 100 years, and is currently 9.1 cents per song. The so-called “federal rate court” determines compensation rates for public performances, occasionally requiring songwriters to engage in complex litigation to be paid reasonable fees for their work.

Categories
Press Releases

Senate Judiciary Cmte Approves Resolution to Allow Voters to Pick TN AG

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; March 4, 2015:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), March 4, 2015  — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday that would allow Tennessee voters to decide if they want to popularly elect the state’s attorney general (AG).  Senate Joint Resolution 63, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), would begin the process of amending the State Constitution, which if approved, would go to voters in the 2018 general election.

“Tennessee is the only state in the nation in which the people have neither a direct nor indirect voice in the selection of their attorney general, and we are the only state that gives that power to our Supreme Court,” said Senator Beavers.

Beavers’ resolution calls for the AG to serve a six-year term, but would limit it to two consecutive terms.  The resolution requires approval by the 109th General Assembly currently in session, and the 110th which will take office in 2017, before going to voters in a statewide referendum.

Beavers said that when Tennessee’s Constitution was written, calling for nomination of the AG by the state’s Supreme Court justices, the court was popularly elected.  Forty-three states already select their attorney generals through popular election.  In six other states, the AG is selected by either the popularly elected governor or the popularly elected state legislature.

“Along with the overwhelming majority of Tennesseans and 96 percent of the rest of this nation, I feel that the citizens of this state ought to have a ‘say so’ in the highest legal office in Tennessee,” she concluded.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor where it will be heard on three readings before taking a final vote.  It will then travel to the House of Representatives for approval there.

Categories
Business and Economy Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

AG Pressed to File Suit Over FCC Broadband Ruling

A trio of prominent Tennessee House Republicans on Tuesday called for the state’s attorney general to challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to strike down state restrictions on municipal broadband expansion.

Last week the FCC ruled in favor of the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga and their request to set aside a 1999 Tennessee law limiting municipal electric providers to offering internet services only within their electric footprint.

House Majority Whip Jeremy Durham and House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, both of Franklin, as well as Dresden Rep. Andy Holt, vice chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, are urging state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to fight back against what they term the FCC’s “unconstitutional violation” of Tennessee’s sovereignty.

The three Republicans are accusing the FCC of having “usurped Tennessee law.”

In a press conference at the state Capitol Tuesday, Durham questioned the legality and appropriateness of “an unelected, federal body…overturn(ing) laws that have been made by the duly elected members of the Tennessee General Assembly.”

“I believe it’s another example of federal overreach. It doesn’t have to be the pen of Barack Obama and an executive order, sometimes it’s these unelected bodies like the FCC,” Durham said.

Whether or not the FCC ruling constitutes “good public policy or bad,” isn’t so much the issue as that the subverting of state laws sets “a very dangerous precedent,” said Durham.

According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the decision was made because “some states” have limited competition by designing “thickets of red tape,” and through its action, the commission is “cutting away that red tape consistent with Congress’s instructions to encourage the deployment of broadband.”

EPB officials, though cautious of possible pending litigation, praised the decision last week.

“Many neighbors have been struggling with the economic and educational disadvantages of not having access to broadband services. We are looking for the quickest path forward to help those neighbors join the 21st century information economy,” said Harold DePriest, EPB’s president and CEO, in a press release.

Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters Tuesday he’s still weighing options and mulling the FCC ruling and hadn’t made a decision on if he supports Tennessee appealing. “Before you decide to appeal something, you have to make certain that there’s a reasonable reason to do that,” Haslam said, adding that he’ll be looking to Slatery for guidance on the issue.

Haslam said he recognizes “value” in people gaining access to high-speed Internet if it is otherwise unavailable, but there are also concerns about “the local government subsidizing something that makes it hard for business to compete.”

The General Assembly’s Democrats issued a press release Tuesday afternoon criticizing the governor and lawmakers for working “to limit consumer choice,” instead of supporting the FCC’s decision to expand the choice for Tennesseans.

According to both chambers minority leaders — Memphis Sen. Lee Harris and Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley — Tennessee consumers “consider the matter settled” with the FCC ruling, and “don’t care so much about these technicalities,” if it means having access to high speed internet service.

Tullahoma Sen. Janice Bowling, a Republican, is pushing legislation this year to let municipal electric companies offer their services to what she called the “under-served or un-served” areas of the state.

Neither chamber has taken action on the bill.

***

[gview file=”https://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2015/03/Slatery-FCC-Letter.pdf”]

Categories
Press Releases

TN Senate Dems Criticize Haslam, Lawmakers for Opposition to FCC Municipal Broadband Ruling

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; March 3, 2015:

Consumers want choices, not government obstruction to limit Internet options

NASHVILLE – Tennessee lawmakers should embrace competition when it comes to broadband services, not work to limit consumer choice, Democratic leaders said.

“Anyone who has spent hours on the phone with a service provider to dispute a bill or get proper services knows consumers need more choices when it comes to Internet service,” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “It is disturbing to see lawmakers act so quickly to limit consumer choice when Tennesseans are demanding more.”

Last week the Federal Communications Commission ruled that Chattanooga’s EPB could provide lightning-speed Internet outside the municipal power distributor’s service area. The move would mean new options for consumers in the Chattanooga area and increased broadband speeds, which are a critical tool for economic development outside of major cities.

However, the governor, the attorney general and other lawmakers have stood in opposition to consumer choice, even considering a lawsuit against the federal government at great cost to the taxpayer.

“Communities like mine in rural West Tennessee don’t care so much about these technicalities,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “They care less about service areas and more about having access to fast, reliable Internet. If a provider wants to bring that to my constituents, I don’t think I want the state to get in the way.”

The decision whether to sue the FCC on this issue will be a true test of the attorney general’s independence.

“With the FCC ruling, consumers consider this matter settled,” Sen. Harris said. “No one wants to see our attorney general give in to demands from lawmakers who want to play politics rather than do what’s best for consumers and our economy.”

Categories
Press Releases

CAIR Urges TN Legislature to Drop ‘No-Go Zone’ Bill

Press release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations; March 3, 2015:

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2015 — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said it is calling on the Tennessee state legislature to drop consideration of an Islamophobic “no-go zone” bill (SB 1040/HB 1141) that “will inevitably be used to vilify the state’s Muslim community.”

In a letter sent to the chairman of the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the House Civil Justice Committee,CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw wrote in part:

“This bias-motivated bill offers a solution to a problem that does not exist and is championed by an individual whose animosity toward the Tennessee Muslim community is well-documented. . .

“To be clear, no-go zones are a discredited and universally-mocked claim that Muslims in Europe have set up so-called zones that people of other faiths and police are not allowed to enter. It is a waste of the Tennessee General Assembly’s time and the tax payer’s money to legislate on an issue that has been made-up for the purpose of promoting Islamophobia and fear of Muslim communities.

“In January, Fox News was forced to apologize several times on-air for a similar ‘no-go zone’ claim made by self-proclaimed terrorism ‘expert’ Steven Emerson. Emerson is a notorious Islamophobe who has made a career out of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. . .

“Senator Ketron, the original sponsor of the bill, has a well-documented history of supporting anti-Muslim legislation and making biased comments that have drawn negative attention to the Tennessee General Assembly. Among his many anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim statements and initiatives he is best known for:

  • In 2013, Senator Ketron promoted another non-existent anti-Muslim controversy when he raised concerns that a mop sink in the state capitol building might actually be a facility for Muslim religious ablutions. . .
  • In 2012, Senator Ketron introduced The Putting Tennessee First Act. According to The Tennessean, Senator Ketron introduced the bill after “A conservative group … warned of the growing influence of Islam” and that it “would limit how many legal immigrants charter schools can hire,” which drew opposition from many charter school and immigrant groups. . .
  • In 2011, Sen. Ketron introduced Senate Bill 1028, the Material Support to Designated Entities Act. As introduced it would have essentially made it illegal to be a Muslim and outlawed the practice of Islam in the state of Tennessee.

“. . .The bill is built upon an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim premise that has been thoroughly dismissed and only serves to stigmatize an entire religious community. Withdrawing consideration of the bill is the right and responsible thing to do.”

Read the entire CAIR letter: http://www.cair.com/images/pdf/CAIR_Letter_in_Opposition_to_Tenn_SB_1040_-_HB_1141_3-2-15.pdf

CAIR recently called on Republican Party leaders in Tennessee to repudiate a racist comment posted on Facebook by a state lawmaker.

Video: CAIR Asks Tennessee GOP to Repudiate Lawmaker’s Racist Facebook Post

The racist post was in response to a recent CAIR open letter to potential Republican presidential candidates urging them to reject Islamophobia and to reach out to American Muslim voters.

SEE: CAIR Letter Urges GOP Presidential Candidates to Engage Muslim Voters, Reject Islamophobia

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Categories
Press Releases

Fleischmann, Black, Blackburn Opposed to DHS Funding Bill that Allows Obama Amnesty

Press release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. 03; March 3, 2015:

WASHINGTON− This afternoon, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann voted against H.R. 240, Senate-passed legislation that does not stop President Obama’s executive amnesty. After the vote, Rep. Fleischmann released the following statement.

“As a member of Congress, I swore to support and defend the Constitution, and my vote today did just that. The President’s attempt to bypass the U.S. immigration system through executive action is unconstitutional, and I could not support legislation that did nothing to stop his overreach.”

“In January, the House passed a bill to fund DHS while defunding the President’s illegal executive action. It’s unfortunate Senate Democrats filibustered that bill and refused to go to conference, pushing DHS to the brink of shutdown. I am hopeful that moving forward our chambers will be able to work together and stop governing from conflict to conflict.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn 06: March 3, 2015:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) released the below statement on her vote against the Senate-passed “clean” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) full-year funding bill that failed to address President Obama’s immigration overreach. Earlier today, Rep. Black also voted for a motion by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to table consideration of the Senate’s version of this legislation. The motion was not adopted.

“I told my constituents that I would stand against any long-term DHS funding measure that allowed President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty to go unchecked – and I meant it,” said Congressman Diane Black. “We in Congress swore an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States’ and the President’s unilateral actions are an affront to this document’s clearly established separation of powers. Tennesseans know that I vote my convictions, even when that means standing opposite party leadership in Washington. This ‘clean’ appropriations bill does nothing to combat the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty and, as such, it did not earn my support.”

Congressman Black added, “The House voted back in January to fully fund DHS while addressing the President’s immigration overreach. Senate Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for spending a month filibustering our original funding bill and refusing to go to a conference committee to resolve our differences through regular order. It’s time to stop these legislative hijinks that prevent Congress from doing the work of our constituents. A 60-vote threshold for invoking cloture is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. If Senate Democrats won’t allow for an open, honest debate on House-passed legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should enact a change in the Senate rules to help put an end to this obstructionism and political gamesmanship once and for all.”

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; March 3, 2015:

Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement on her vote in opposition to funding President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty.

“A majority of the American public wants the President’s lawless and unconstitutional amnesty program stopped.The House acted appropriately on January 14th when we passed a bill to fund the DHS while also blocking amnesty policies that make our nation less safe.

“It is outrageous that Senate Democrats continue to put partisanship ahead of people by ignoring the law and taking actions to protect the President’s executive amnesty. It is noteworthy that two federal judges, one in Texas and one in Pennsylvania have each found the amnesty to be unconstitutional. Instead of working with House and Senate Republicans to solve this problem, the Senate Democrats have spent the last several weeks preaching to conservatives about the importance of protecting the country while turning a blind eye to the threat visited on this country every day by the President’s open borders policy. The duplicity of their actions is shameful. Any country that cannot protect their borders can not defend against threats, terrorists such as ISIS, and sleeper cells.”

Categories
Press Releases

TN Health Dept. Warns of Cold Weather Dangers

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Health; March 3, 2015:

11 Tennesseans Tragically Lost to Hypothermia Since Start of 2015

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health is urging Tennesseans to stay warm and protect themselves, friends and family members from deadly hypothermia as another round of severe cold weather impacts the state. A preliminary review of January and February 2015 fatalities indicates more than one-third of 30 cold weather-related deaths in Tennessee have been attributed to hypothermia, caused when the body’s core temperature drops to unsafe levels. Among the hypothermia deaths that have occurred, there appear to be no unexpected or previously unidentified individual risk factors. The long stretch of unusually cold weather caught many unprepared for the disaster.

“Hypothermia can happen to any of us, but people who are medically fragile, homeless, on certain medications and using alcohol are at greater risk than others and a caring person can help protect them,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Please think about friends, family and acquaintances that may be at greater risk, and make a plan to check on them. If you can’t do it yourself, call emergency services, local police or your local health department. If help is needed to assist someone else, emergency responders are here to make that happen. A phone call or conversation could mean the difference between life and death.”

Hypothermia can happen fast. Persons most at risk for hypothermia include those who:

  • take certain medications, like those used for behavioral health, that affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature
  • use alcohol, especially if intoxicated by alcohol and other drugs
  • are elderly or have medical conditions that may impair generation of body heat
  • live alone, are socially isolated or are homeless
  • have mental/behavioral health issues
  • are male (studies have shown males are more likely to be victims of hypothermia)

“A person can be developing hypothermia but not know it because confusion and amnesia are among the symptoms of the deadly condition,” said Paul Petersen, PharmD, TDH director of Emergency Preparedness. “Many mistakenly believe hypothermia only happens to people who spend long periods of time outdoors. In fact, it can happen to a person in a residence or structure that doesn’t have sufficient warmth, or in a vehicle lacking a working heating system.”

In addition to creating a system for checking on others, Tennesseans are urged to properly take care of themselves during extremely cold weather. Directions for avoiding hypothermia include:

  • If you have a medical emergency, or are worried about a friend or neighbor, don’t hesitate to call 911
    Dress in layers to retain body heat and limit time outdoors or in cold environments.  Wearing a hat or head covering is most important.
  • Come inside frequently to warm up. If your home or business heating system fails don’t attempt to “tough it out”; seek an alternative place to stay. Never use a power generator indoors; they can generate deadly carbon monoxide gas. Also do not use outdoor gas or charcoal cooking devices indoors.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. It provides a temporary sensation of warmth but long-term it causes your body to lose heat and can lead to hypothermia. Alcohol can also dull the senses, prohibiting clear-thinking when it is needed most.
  • If you must travel by vehicle, make sure you have life-saving necessities:  a functioning cell phone with a car charger; blankets; candles to generate heat and matches; a flashlight; food and water. Before getting on the road, let someone know your travel route and have him or her check on you to make sure you arrived safely.
  • Medical conditions or drugs you take may affect your body’s ability to regulate heat.  Some antidepressants, antipsychotics, narcotic pain medications and sedatives can change the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
  • Some health disorders can also affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, including underactive thyroid, poor nutrition, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, trauma, spinal injuries, dehydration, circulatory issues and other conditions.
  • Make sure you have someone that checks on you. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for an exchange of, “I’m okay” calls.
  • To find an emergency shelter in your area, call 2-1-1, your county emergency management agency or the non-emergency telephone number of your local police department. You may also visit http://health.state.tn.us/ceds/TNDisSup/index.htm.

“Take care of yourself first so you can then help take care of others,” Dreyzehner said. “When you do a cold weather wellness check by phone or in person, invest a little time to truly make sure the person is okay and follow up with him or her later to make sure that person is still alright. If you suspect a person needs assistance, trust your instincts and seek help. You could save a life.”

Learn more about hypothermia at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/hypothermia.asp.

Categories
Press Releases

Alexander Advocates ‘Weeding the Garden’ of Federal Higher Ed Regulations

Press releases from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; March 2, 2015:

Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander

The Higher Education Act totals nearly 1,000 pages. There are more than 1,000 pages in the official Code of Federal Regulations devoted to higher education, and on average every workday the Department of Education issues one new sub-regulatory guidance directive or clarification.

No one has taken the time to weed the garden, and America’s 6,000 colleges and universities are living in a “jungle of red tape” that is expensive, confusing and unnecessary.

The result of this piling up of regulations is that one of the greatest obstacles to innovation and cost consciousness in higher education has become the federal government.

That is why the Senate education committee that I chair held our first hearing this Congress on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act last week, during which we discussed how findings in a report by a group of distinguished educators—and commissioned by Senators Mikulski, Burr, Bennet, and me—can help guide our efforts to weed the garden and allow colleges to spend more of their time and money educating students. Educators who worked on the report included Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nick Zeppos—who co-chaired the effort and also testified at the education committee—and Claude Pressnell, president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association.

The document entitled “Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities,” outlines 59 specific regulations, requirements and areas for Congress and the Department of Education to consider—listing 10 especially problematic regulations.

The report makes clear that colleges and taxpayers expect appropriate regulation. But neither taxpayers nor colleges are well-served by the jungle that exists today. Consumer information that is too complicated to understand is worthless.

Colleges must report the amount of foreign gifts they receive and disclose the number of fire drills that occurred on campus. “Gainful employment” disclosures require 30 different pieces of information for each academic program subject to the regulation.

When a student withdraws from college before a certain time period, a student’s federal money must be returned to the government. This is a simple concept, yet the regulations and guidance implementing this are ridiculously complex – 200 paragraphs of regulatory text accompanied by 200 pages in the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Institutions offering distance education are subject to an additional set of bureaucracy that can result in additional costs of $500,000 to $1 million for compliance.

All of these are examples of colleges and universities spending time and money on compliance with federal rules – and not on students. These examples, and others like them, represent sloppy, inefficient governing that wastes money, hurts students, discourages productivity and impedes research.

With bipartisan support and this groundbreaking report, I feel sure that our committee can send a Higher Education Act reauthorization bill to the Senate floor this year that will eliminate unnecessary red tape, save student’s money, and remove unnecessary regulatory obstacles to innovation in the best system of higher education in the world.

Categories
NewsTracker

Cooper, Cohen Split on Israeli PM’s Congressional Address

Tennessee’s only two Democratic legislators in Washington have taken divergent positions on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pending speech to Congress Tuesday.

Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen, a Jewish American and self-described “supporter of the state of Israel,” has announced his intention to boycott because he believes “the speech is political theater” for Netanyahu’s re-election efforts.

Cohen also took umbrage with Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to the Israeli leader in light of the Obama administration’s ongoing negotiations in the Middle East. He accused House Republicans of “giving a foreign leader the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as a forum to present a counterargument to the foreign policy peace efforts” of President Barack Obama.

“My lack of attendance does not mean I will not be aware of the content of the speech nor does it mean I won’t follow the commentary both pro and con but I will not be part of the spectacle,” Cohen said in a release.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, on the other hand, plans to attend, as he said he always does when a foreign leader addresses Congress. Cooper’s also planning to bring along the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville to the speech as his guest.

According to a media advisory e-mailed late Monday, House Democrats, led by Cohen, will make a response to Netanyahu’s speech early Tuesday afternoon.

Dozens of Democrats from both chambers of Congress — the count has fluctuated over the past month from 54 members of congress to 34  — have announced that they will not attend Netanyahu’s speech.

Categories
Press Releases

McQueen Announces Task Force on Student Testing, Assessment

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Education; March 2, 2015:

NASHVILLE — Education Commissioner Candice McQueen today announced the formation of a special Tennessee Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment to study and identify best practices in testing at the school level and how those assessments align with required state tests.

“We have heard some concerns that there is ‘too much testing’ taking place. So as education leaders and stakeholders, it’s important that we clearly understand current testing policies and practices at both the state and local levels,” McQueen said. “Proper assessment tools are vital in making sure we are supporting our schools, teachers, parents, and students with clear information about what students are learning and mastering. We want to highlight those districts that are finding the right approach and balance on this important topic, and to identify any areas for discussion and improvement.”

The new task force includes a broad spectrum of education leaders, teachers, and stakeholders. The first meeting of the task force will convene in late March, and will focus on the results of a district assessment survey.

“Assessments can be powerful tools in ensuring the work we’re doing in education is effective and that we are gaining a return on our taxpayer investments,” Senate Education Committee Chairman and task force member Dolores Gresham said. “I’m excited to be a part of this important work.”

The task force will issue a report on its findings this summer.

The task force will include the following members:

  • Candice McQueen, Tennessee Commissioner of Education
  • Sara Heyburn, Executive Director, State Board of Education
  • Dolores Gresham, Chairman, Senate Education Committee
  • John Forgety, Chairman, House Education Committee
  • Harry Brooks, Chairman, House Education Committee
  • Mike Winstead, Director of Schools, Maryville City
  • Wanda Shelton, Director of Schools, Lincoln County
  • Mary Reel, Director of Schools, Milan Special Schools
  • Nancy Ashe, Assistant Director of Schools, Lebanon Special Schools
  • Beth Unfried, Director of Elementary Schools, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools
  • Sharon McNary, Principal, Richland Elementary, Shelby County Schools
  • Philip Eller, Teacher, Cedar Grove Elementary, Rutherford County Schools
  • Becky McBride, Teacher, Brighton High, Tipton County School
  • Valerie Love, Teacher, Dobyns-Bennett High, Kingsport City Schools
  • Susan Lodal, President, Tennessee School Boards Association
  • Jasmine Carlisle, 11TH-grade Student, Mt. Juliet High, Wilson County Schools
  • Virginia Babb, Member, Knox County Parent-Teacher Association

Ex officio members

  • Kathleen Airhart, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Stephen Smith, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Emily Freitag, Assistant Commissioner, Curriculum and Instruction, Tennessee Department of
  • EducationNakia Towns, Assistant Commissioner, Data and Research, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Eva Boster, Teacher Ambassador, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Alyssa Van Camp, Director of Policy, State Collaborative on Reforming Education