Jerry Winters

The governor says the state should have a thorough discussion about school vouchers, publicly-funded scholarships that can be used to attend private schools. A state panel appointed by Haslam to make recommendations on a voucher program is grappling over questions of eligibility and timing.

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Republicans face the tricky prospect of giving the state the authority to approve new charter schools — a move that would go against their mantra of local control in governing. Charter school opponents stand ready to point out any hint of hypocrisy.

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Music teachers, gym instructors and other educators whose subjects aren’t tested should be able to opt for evaluations more closely tied to their classroom observations, an influential education group says. The state’s listening.

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Gov. Bill Haslam recently stumped for Rep. Debra Maggart, who he says has been under “added heat” on Capitol Hill. Maggart has been targeted in a primary race by gun rights groups.

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Over the last year, the state has made “little progress” developing a strategy for grooming and developing people to lead schools, that “more work remains to ensure that there is a statewide pipeline of effective school and district leaders,” according to a prominent Tennessee education reform advocacy group.

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Lawmakers say they’re hearing concerns about the governor’s plan to authorize more local control on class size and teacher pay, but they predict the outcry will not be as heated as last year’s. “We’re going to work real hard to get some consensus. Everybody may not agree 100 percent, but I think we’re going to […]

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Charter school advocates say they would like to bypass local school board authority when setting up new charters, but Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s comfortable with the recently passed reforms and wants to see how that works before doing anything else.

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The Legislature has spent weeks juggling multiple versions of the bill — always in the face of dogged opposition from Democrats. The Senate already passed a repeal of the 1978 mandate that school boards formally negotiate teacher contracts with a union.

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The “Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act,” which already passed the Senate, is in now limbo until next year. Sponsors say they want to spend the interim educating skeptics on how the system would work and benefit low-income and at-risk Tennessee students.

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Republicans in the upper chamber have all along favored repealing local teachers’ ability to force school districts to negotiate labor deals with unions. But House GOP lawmakers have been more skeptical of the Tennessee School Board Association-backed legislation and have yet to take up the latest amendments to the bill.

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According to the latest version of the bill obtained by TNReport, teachers will have 45 days to offer school boards written feedback on a policy guide dictating how their salary and benefits decisions will be made.

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There appears little Democrats or the Tennessee Education Association can do to slow the governor’s push to make it more challenging for individual teachers to earn the formal job protections.

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