schools

Haslam spokeswoman: ‘Political affiliation did not play a role’ in appointing school safety panel

Through a spokeswoman, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s office is pushing back against criticism of his appointments to a  task force assigned to study school safety and recommend revisions in state laws or policy, reports the Times Free Press. Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris has been the lead critic, saying the 16-member panel is solid Republican with no Democratic members “where a bipartisan consensus is sorely needed.”

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Legislators eye TN teachers with guns and/or putting more police in schools

A bill that sets the stage for some teachers to carry guns in Tennessee schools cleared a House subcommittee on Wednesday on a party-line vote while a bipartisan group of lawmakers held a news conference to propose having the state pay off-duty police officers $50 an hour to patrol schools.

The proposal involving teachers with guns may be a strategy to get more professional police in the schools, reports WPLN.

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Haslam ‘not certain about arming teachers’ while planning statewide school safety review

Gov. Bill Haslam, who last week said his administration plans a statewide review of school security in light of a recent mass shooting at a Florida high school, is quoted in a Sunday Politico story headlined, Governors to Washington: Stop dithering on guns.

The article is based on comments from state chief executives gathered for a weekend meeting in Washington of the National Governors Association meeting in downtown Washington.  An excerpt:

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DeVos in TN speech: ‘I’m just getting started!’

Speaking in Nashville at the National Summit on Education Reform, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rallied education leaders to expand “school choice,” took swipes at teachers unions and Democrats, and put in a good word for her boss’s campaign to overhaul the nation’s tax structure.

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Anderson exits as ASD chief

Malika Anderson, who has sought to steer Tennessee’s school turnaround district to stability, is stepping down as its second superintendent at the end of this month, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Anderson’s departure on Wednesday, while also reaffirming the state’s commitment to the Achievement School District, known as the ASD.

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Conflict seen in TN laws to prevent child sexual abuse and to restrict sex education

Organizations pushing Tennessee schools to expand their child sexual abuse prevention efforts say they face resistance from educators worried about violating a state law putting restrictions on sex education classes, reports The Tennessean.

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Haslam family gives Knox County schools $1.3M (half for high school bands)

The Haslam family, through Pilot Flying J and the Haslam Family Foundation, is giving $1.3 million to Knox County Schools’ marching bands and academics, reports the News Sentinel.

“The Haslam family is proud to call Knoxville both our home and the headquarters for our company,” Pilot Flying J Director of Giving Back Will Haslam said in the announcement. “When we think of school pride, we think of the marching bands and their dedication.”

An equal portion of the money will go to each of the district’s 13 high schools, pending acceptance Sept. 13 by the Knox County Schools Board of Education.

… Half of the $1.3 million, coming from Pilot Flying J, will buy band uniforms, instruments or other equipment, according to a news release. The other half, coming from the Haslam Family Foundation, will give $50,000 to each high school for “materials or activities that will enhance the academic experience and outcomes for students,” the announcement said.

… This donation follows a 2015 pledge of $10 million for artificial turf football fields at all 13 high schools, with construction running through 2018. That gift included $100,000 to each school for classroom improvements.

TN school systems deemed among 10 worst in nation overall

Tennessee’s school systems are rated as among the worst in the nation by WalletHub in a state-by-state review of education data in 21 areas, ranging from test scores and funding to bullying incidents and drug use.

The overall Tennessee rating was 42nd among the 50 states plus the District of Columbia or, put another way, among the 10 worst. WalletHub’s researchers broke the data into two broad categories – “quality,” where Tennessee was ranked 35th, and “safety” where Tennessee was ranked 49th.

Nationwide, Massachusetts is given the top ranking for schools while Louisiana is at the bottom.

The full report is HERE.

Haslam: ‘I hate to see us get carried away’ with city schools seceding from county systems

Gov. Bill Haslam, who signed into law a 2014 bill that let six Shelby County towns seceded from the county school system and formed their own districts, is voicing some misgivings about a proposal for Brentwood schools leaving the Williamson County system, reports The Tennessean.

The Shelby County situation has drawn some national attention and is already being used as a model for Signal Mountain schools to secede from Hamilton County. (Previous post HERE.) Brentwood is the most prosperous city in the state’s most prosperous county.

 “I tend to think the whole secession idea — I hate to see us get carried away with that,” Haslam told reporters during a press conference Wednesday. “There’s always been a benefit to communities that are all part of one area, and being a community together and figuring out our problems, whether it be rural schools or urban schools, or whatever the challenges may be.”

Report on high lead levels in school drinking water may boost ‘flushing’ bill in legislature

Reports of unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water at some Nashville schools may improve chances for passage of legislation that died in a House subcommittee earlier this year, reports WTVF-TV.

The TV station recently found data from a survey of Nashville school water, not previously made public, that showed 81 of 2,800 samples had lead levels higher than the 15 parts per billion, the “action level” established by the Environmental Protection Agency. The American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s drinking water should have no more than one part per billion and about third of the samples were in excess of that level. At one high school, the level was 1,190 parts per billion.

Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, sponsored a bill this year (HB385) that would require daily “flushing” of water systems in school building built before 1986.

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