schools

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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Study criticizes TN law on school district secession, cites Shelby, Hamilton County examples

A new study on school district secession around the nation says Tennessee law makes it easier than most any other state for wealthy, predominantly-white small cities to set up separate school systems from predominantly-black poor areas.

It cites the formation of six new school systems in Shelby County under a 2011 law as a leading example and also uses as an example plans in the works for Signal Mountain to set up a school system separate from Hamilton County.

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Grading scandal triggers audit of all Shelby County high schools

The state Department of Education says a grading scandal at Trezevant High School in Memphis has triggered an audit of grade transcripts at all Shelby County Schools high schools, reports the Commercial Appeal.

An independent firm is handling the audit, and the timeline “will depend on the scope of the work required,” according to an email from the department. The district-wide audit was a “mutual” decision between SCS and the state, the email said.

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Billboards used to push Memphis funding for schools

A week after Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland largely dismissed a new coalition’s call for $10 million in city spending on schools, the group is taking its message to billboards, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Fund Students First — comprised of elected officials, education advocates and public school leaders — posted two billboards Friday in high-trafficked streets in downtown and midtown Memphis. The campaign is being underwritten by Stand for Children, a national education advocacy group with offices in Memphis and Nashville.

One billboard says:

standforchildren

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TN submits new education plan with letter grades for schools

The state Department of Education has released its plan for bring Tennessee into compliance with the new federal education law called Every Student Succeeds Act.

Under the plan, all public schools will get a letter grade from A to F, making it easier for parents to evaluate how their local schools are doing.

Last year the Legislature passed a bill that called for schools to be given letter grades, notes the AP, but the new state education plan goes even further under the measurement system that takes effect in the fall of 2018.

The Department of Education news release is HERE.