Archives: February 2018

Legislative Update – February 26, 2018

In case you missed it last week, we launched our brand-new super-exciting, easy-to-use, you-won’t-regret-heading-over-to-look-at, grassroots engagement tool. From this site, you can quickly and efficiently contact your elected officials. Raising your voice in support of Tennessee’s classrooms, and of the policy priorities we announced last week, is a critical part of the work we do together.

Speaking of raising your voice, there are four bills we’re watching this week. While there are plenty of bills that come up in each legislative session, we’ll only share the ones fall under one of our policy priorities in our 2018 Legislative Agenda. At the end of each session, we’ll publish our Legislative Scorecard summarizing each bill we’ve taken a position on and the way your elected officials voted on them.

House Bill 1599/SB 1649 (Forgety/Norris) – We share the same goal – making sure our kids are ready for success when they leave our classrooms. Legislation like HB 1599 helps that goal along. This bill incentivizes Tennessee’s businesses to participate in work-based learning partnerships with local school districts. We are proud to support Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs), and proud to support HB 1599.

House Bill 1870/SB 1901 (Dunn/Gresham) – Education isn’t one-size-fits-all. Whether enrolled in a traditional zoned school, charter, magnet, or iZone school, it’s critical to student success that each school have equitable access to resources. HB 1870 ensures that charter schools are given equitable access to resources intended to support special education services. We support HB 1870 and the work to make sure every student in Tennessee is ready for success.

House Bill 2203/SB 2589 (Byrd/Hensley) – Championing student growth is about learning and also knowing where they are headed. Tools like End of Course exams (EOCs) help our kids know they are on the right track for success. Parents, teachers, and students need the information from EOCs to make sure they are mastering the Tennessee-specific content we champion in our Tennessee-specific standards. HB 2203 would not only eliminate access to the valuable information that comes from EOCs; it would tie the hands of teachers, students, and parents to make certain their students are mastering what they need to be successful after high school. We oppose HB 2203.

House Bill 1609/SB 2575 (Hill, M./Hensley) – Like the legislation above, HB 1609 would remove EOCs from Tennessee’s classrooms and replace them with a nationalized assessment. We think it’s valuable for Tennessee’s kids to learn Tennessee-specific standards and be tested with a Tennessee-specific assessment. HB 1609 ushers in a national test and throws all our Tennessee work out of the testing window. We oppose HB 1609 and similar efforts to nationalize Tennessee’s classrooms.

We hope you’ll head over to our new outreach portal and share your thoughts, support, and concerns with our elected officials. We’re so grateful you continue to raise your voice for all of Tennessee’s students, teachers, and classrooms.

2018 Legislative Agenda

Policy Principles

Tennesseans for Student Success strives to engage the state’s parents, teachers, and community leaders in the common goal of creating and supporting a public educational system that prepares students for success following graduation from high school. We frame our policy priorities around four key goals:

High Academic Standards — Tennessee’s students will soon be competing with students from across the country for spots in colleges and universities, for jobs, for placements in technical fields, and for prestigious positions in our nation’s Armed Forces. We know our students can compete and succeed, but they can also be better prepared. High academic standards aren’t about fitting more instruction into a school year or making sure every box gets checked on our educational goals. High academic standards are about expecting more from our students, our teachers, our parents, and ourselves.

Fewer, better tests — Helping students to be successful means that, along with helping them develop the necessary skills to move from one grade to the next, we must work to ensure that they know how to be successful in life after graduation. Whether in college, at a job, or as they file their taxes each year, there will be moments when they have to demonstrate their competence. It is a disservice to bring students through the educational system with the belief that they will never have to show their grasp of a subject or an idea. Simply put, tests are part of life, although for adults, they’ll take on different forms and won’t be graded in red ink. Thus, they have a rightful place in the classroom.

Greater Accountability — Public education is a public good – and a great public good at that! As we work together to protect and advance the gains made in Tennessee, we will maintain our commitment to holding all those involved accountable for our children’s success.

Public School Choice — More than an elected official, more than a school administrator, parents engaged in their child’s education know best the right setting where their child can reach his or her full potential. For many, success in the classroom comes in a traditional school setting. For other students, more focus is needed in a certain discipline or subject. The goal for education advocates in Tennessee isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to student achievement. Every child in Tennessee deserves a top-notch education that prepares her or him for success in the 21st century.

2018 State Legislative Priorities

High Academic Standards
– Support rigorous K–12 academic standards that create high expectations for all students and better prepare them for postsecondary academic or career options.

– Support career and technical education or early postsecondary opportunities that prepare all students to thrive after high school.

– Support investments into the Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) program to ensure that all students are on track to succeed.

Fewer but Better Aligned Tests
– Support an assessment aligned with the state’s K–12 academic standards to accurately measure student achievement.

–Support fewer, better tests as a strategy to increase classroom instructional time.

Strong Accountability in Every Classroom
– Support an accountability system that incorporates student achievement and academic growth to improve instruction in the classroom.

– Support efforts to ensure that talented new educators are recruited, trained, and supported throughout the state. 

– Oppose efforts to repeal Tennessee’s new A–F school accountability framework.

– Support the current system for selecting members of boards of education and local school superintendents.

– Support strategies to increase access to effective teachers for all students.

Public School Choice
– Support strategies with a demonstrated track record for improving student growth measures to turn around and improve underperforming schools.

– Support equitable access to resources for high-quality charter schools.

Legislative Update – February 19, 2018

The highlight of our week last week was hosting teachers, parents, students, and advocates from across the state for our inaugural Tennesseans for Student Success Day on the Hill. From taking meetings with legislators to hearing from Secretary of State Tre Hargett to sitting in on education committees, we had a wonderful time helping Tennesseans raise their voices for student success. Curious what the day was about? Take a look at our pictures and let us know if we can help arrange a visit for you!

We’re watching three pieces of legislation this week. As always, reach out for more information and for ways to raise your voice in support of our students.

Senate Bill 1804 – This bill exempts high-quality educators – with valid teaching licenses in other states – from having to take a licensure test when they make Tennessee their home. Every classroom needs a great teacher, and SB 1804 helps schools attract and retain those great teachers. SB 1804 passed the Senate Education Committee last week and up this week in Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee. Tennesseans for Student Success supports SB 1804.

Take a moment and email the Senate Education Committee and thank them for making sure every classroom has a high-quality teacher!

House Bill 1569 – This bill would extend career and technical education (CTA) class sizes in certain districts across the state. Enabling more students to take advantage of CTE classes helps more students be ready for success when they graduate. Tennesseans for Student Success supports HB 1569.

House Bill 1855 –If you’ve been around Tennesseans for Student Success very long, you’ll hear one of our key beliefs: politics should stop at a school’s front door. HB 1855 is a reactionary and politically-charged bill that keeps the state’s Department of Education tied to the current state assessment structure until 2021. There’s great value in a good and informative yearly assessment to help parents, teachers, and students know where they are and where they are going. We oppose HB 1855 and all efforts to roll back accountability in the classroom.

Be on the lookout for our 2018 Legislative Agenda this week. As we build on the success in supporting Tennessee’s students, teachers, and classrooms over the last few years, we’re committed to continuing that work this legislative season. You’re a key part of our work – thank you for raising your voice for all of our kids.

Legislative Update – February 12, 2018

In honor of Cupid, and in no particular order, here is a list of things we love this week:

♥ More money for education. The Governor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018-19 contains another year of good news for Tennessee’s classrooms. If the budget is approved, $211.8 million will be invested in education. We’re excited to see more than $55 million of that new funding marked for teacher salaries. There’s also an additional $13 million into the Basic Education Program to support Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2), supporting students’ individual learning needs. In addition, there will be $6 million to support public charter school facilities.

♥ Great teachers in every classroom. House Bill 1549 would remove red tape from our local school districts, allowing them to attract and retain high-quality teachers from outside of the state. Tennesseans for Student Success supports HB 1549 because we know that having high-quality teachers in our classrooms is the number one factor in student success.

♥ Raising your voice. This week we’re thrilled to host teachers, students, and advocates from across the state for our inaugural Tennesseans for Student Success Day on the Hill. They’ll meet elected officials, network with education leaders, and learn how to raise their voice for Tennessee’s students. Registration for this year’s event is closed, but we hope you’ll follow along at #EdVoices18.

♥ Preparing students for tomorrow’s success, today. February is Career and Technical Education month, and we are proud to be supporting House Bill 1569 as it enables more students to take advantage of CTE courses. Extended career and technical education class sizes for high school students mean more of our graduates will be prepared for success. Tennesseans for Student Success supports HB 1569 and applauds the work to make sure every student is on track for success.

♥ The Olympics. What can we say? We love championing success. Make sure you’re following our social feeds to see our daily Gold Medal for Education. And up-to-date information on bills up this week, committees, and other good things happening in education across the state.

We couldn’t conclude our legislative update for Valentine’s Week without telling you how much we love the support and encouragement you give to Tennessee’s classrooms. We couldn’t do this without you.