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Legislate Update – Week of April 24, 2017

The end to the first session of the 110th General Assembly is in sight. We’re already starting to look back at the bills, votes, and filings of this session, but before we get too far into the session retrospective, we wanted to make sure you knew about a few good things happening this week (and last).

House Bill 310 passed the House last week and is on its way through the Senate process. We’ve talked a lot about the Tennessee High-Quality Charter Schools Act and why we support its passage. Because a picture says a thousand words, and a video says even more, we wanted to make sure you’d seen our video featuring our Government Relations Director live from the House Chamber last week reporting on the passage of HB 310.

We appreciate the House members who supported HB 310 and voted to pass this commonsense legislation to ensure high quality, public school choices for Tennessee’s students. Will you join us in thanking HB 310’s sponsor Representative Harry Brooks? We’re big believers of praising the good and would love your help in doing just that. Send Representative Brooks an email and thank him for supporting all Tennessee’s students.

As session winds down, the Governor’s budget proposal ramps up. Throughout the coming weeks, you’ll hear from us (here and on our social feeds) regarding education amendments included in this year’s budget. We are especially excited to see this budget invest so heavily in education through an additional $180 million to fund the BEP. Out of those recurring dollars, $100 million is designated for instruction – such as increasing salaries or hiring new positions. Stay tuned for more information as we support this year’s budget.

Last, but certainly not least, Tristar Reads is back for another summer! We’ll be sharing more details next week, but feel free to check out the brand new Tristar Reads website, like the brand new social media channels, and share this program with the summer readers (K-12) in your life.

We say this a lot, and we’ll continue to mean it, but thank you. Thanks for all you do to make sure every student in Tennessee has an opportunity to succeed.

Legislative Priorities for 2017

2017 State Legislative Priorities

High Academic Standards
-Support rigorous K-12 academic standards that create high expectations for students and that better prepare them for post-secondary or career options.

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 for the Classroom
-Support an accountability system that incorporates student achievement and academic growth to improve instruction in the classroom.
-Support investments into teacher preparation programs to ensure 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.

Public School Choice
-Support strategies to turn around and improve underperforming schools that have a demonstrated track record for improving student growth measures.
-Support facilities funding for state or locally authorized non-profit charter schools.


Policy Principles

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

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

Fewer, Better Tests— Helping students be successful means that along with helping them learn the necessary skills to move from one grade to the next, we should work to make sure they know how to be successful in life after graduation. Whether in college, a job, or as they file their taxes each year, there will be moments they have to show their competence. It’s harmful to bring students through the education system with the belief that they’ll never have to demonstrate their grasp of a subject or an idea. Tests are a part of life—though they look different and aren’t graded in red ink as an adult—and they need to be a part of the classroom.

Greater Accountability— Public education is a public good – and a great public good at that! While we work together to protect and advance the gains made in Tennessee’s classrooms, we will stay committed to holding all those involved in the classroom accountable for success.

Parent Choice— More than an elected official, more than a school administrator, engaged parents know best the right place where their child can reach his/her full potential. For many students, success in the classroom comes in a traditional school setting. Yet for other students, more focus is needed in certain disciplines or subjects. The goal for education advocates in Tennessee isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Every child in Tennessee deserves a top-notch education that prepares them for success.