education

Defiant school districts get Democrat’s backing; no penalty (yet)

School systems in Nashville and Memphis ignored the Monday deadline set by state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen for turning over student data to charter school operators while House Democratic Leader Mike Stewart publicly called on the commissioner to back off the demand, saying she’s violating expressed “legislative intent” to protect student privacy.

McQueen had declared the Memphis and Nashville school systems would face consequences if they missed the deadline, but Chalkbeat Tennessee reports there were none – except a “firm reprimand.”  At least for now.

Continue reading

AG: TN schools must give student data to charters

In a legal opinion, Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office says Tennessee school districts must turn over student information data to charter school operators.

Slatery effectively sides with Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, who requested the opinion in a dispute with Nashville and Memphis school systems.

Continue reading

TN high school graduation rates at new high

News release from state Department of Education

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that the 2016-17 graduation rate of 89.1 percent is the highest on record for Tennessee. The statewide graduation rate is up more than half a percentage point since last year, and overall it has increased 3.6 percent since the 2010-11 school year. This year, graduation rates increased in nearly 56 percent of districts with high schools.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

TN high school English test scores up; math no so much

Based on test scores released Wednesday, Chalkbeat Tennessee reports that it appears school districts across Tennessee are slowly adapting to the state’s new, more difficult tests for high schoolers.

Three out of every four districts saw English proficiency rise this year, while less than half saw the same trend in math in the second year of TNReady, the state’s new standardized test.

Continue reading

School boards in Nashville and Memphis defy state order

Elected school leaders in Memphis and Nashville are digging in their heels against a state order to release public information about their students to state-run charter schools, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Shelby County’s school board agreed Tuesday night to defy the order, a day after the chairwoman of Nashville’s school board sent a letter to Education Commissioner Candice McQueen indicating that her district would do the same.

Meanwhile, McQueen said she would request the state attorney general’s opinion on the matter.

At issue is student directory information, including names, phone numbers, addresses and emails. Charter operators say they have a right to the lists under the state’s new charter school law, but local districts don’t want to share the information so they can retain their students.

…Both boards cite a committee discussion in February when state lawmakers were asking questions about the charter school bill as it made its way through the legislature. Rep. John Forgety of Athens said the information could not be used as a “recruiting tool,” and Chuck Cagle, an attorney for the state’s superintendents group, agreed. No one disputed their statements.

However, the final bill that passed excluded language that prohibits using the information to market to students, even as the law prohibits charter schools from sharing the information with anyone else.

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.

Continue reading

McQueen sides with charter school company in dispute with Shelby County schools

Tennessee’s education commissioner has sided with a charter school operator in its ongoing dispute with the Shelby County Schools system and the state’s Achievement School District over student contact information, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Continue reading

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.

Former TN education commissioner calls for resignation of DeVos as U.S. education chief

Former Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says Betsy DeVos should resign as the nation’s education chief because of her boss’s ambivalent response to racist violence in Charlottesville undercut her ability to work on behalf of public school students, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Huffman, who was appointed commissioner by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2011 and served through 2014, initially called for DeVos to resign in a series of tweets Thursday, then elaborated.

“There have been a lot of generic calls on people in the administration to resign, but it’s too easy for everyone to duck responsibility,” said Huffman, now an education consultant and writer living in Nashville. “I think it’s appropriate for people to call out specific people in our own field.”

He said the education secretary’s main responsibility is to uphold civil rights in schools — and Trump’s comments mean “she has lost the moral authority to do her job.”

“I can’t imagine Secretary DeVos walking into a room of educators and explaining that your civil rights agenda is to advance all kids, particularly children of color. How would you have the moral authority to have that conversation, given the things your boss has said, particularly when you’re unwilling to call out your boss?” he said.

DeVos posted several tweets over the weekend criticizing the “behavior and the violence and hate-filled rhetoric displayed” in Charlottesville.