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Legislative Update – Week of March 7, 2016


Last month, in districts across the state, students began taking TNReady, the state’s new annual assessment aligned to the standards teachers are using in the classroom. The new and improved TCAP, TNReady is also designed to provide parents and teachers with a deeper understanding of a student’s knowledge and skills. While this year’s assessment will be a paper and pencil version, and not online, we are confident our students will successfully adapt to this change. A few weeks ago, Governor Haslam announced that teachers would be given options for how to TNReady results affect their data in this transition year. As we continue to support teachers and great teaching, we fully support the Governor’s proposal, attached to HB 1419.

HB 1419/SB 2508, sponsored by Rep. Forgety and Sen. Gresham, is up for a vote in the House Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee and the Senate Education Committee. Please email the Committee members, ask them to vote for HB 1419/SB 2508, and thank them for supporting Tennessee’s teachers.

We believe every student should have an equal opportunity to succeed. If a student in Tennessee is in a failing school, every week, every semester, every year we wait to intervene is another year our students fall further behind. The work to turn around failing schools is good and necessary work, but that work takes time. We support the work of the Achievement School District to help rescue students stuck in failing schools.

That’s why we oppose HB 858 and HB 2020 up this week in the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee. Please email the Subcommittee and ask them to oppose these bills and support the good work done by the Achievement School District to ensure every child in Tennessee has the tools they need to succeed.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stand up for success in our classrooms! We couldn’t do this work without you.

***Legislative Update***

We wanted to finish out today’s email letting you know of a few bills we are watching. As always, stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for up-to-the-minute information. Maybe not up-to-the-minute, but at least up-to-date!

HB 2431 – You’ve probably heard us talk a lot about accountability in the classroom. It’s important to success that everyone involved in the classroom – students, teachers, and elected officials- be accountable for the work they do. Teachers should be held to a standard of teaching and students to a high standard of learning. We oppose HB 2431 because it threatens to roll back accountability for students and could lead them to take aspects of their education less seriously.

SB 1606 – Politics should stop at a school’s front door. To be frank, it shouldn’t have a place in our classrooms. The people who lead our classrooms, who set the agenda for our school systems, and who are tasked with keeping and retaining our best teachers should be the most qualified for the job – not necessarily the most popular. For the past 20 years, school system leaders are appointed by, and held accountable to, an elected school board. This has served our students well. This bill replaces that system of accountability with one that is fraught with politics and limits the pool of qualified candidates. We oppose this bill.

SB 1984 – We believe every student in Tennessee should be given the tools they need to succeed. It shouldn’t matter their zip code, the district they’re in, or the elected official who represents them – every student’s success is important to us. This bill would create two classes of assessments, two systems of measuring success, and two different levels of accountability only creates two separate definitions of success. That is unacceptable. We oppose this bill.


This is old news if you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, but we wanted to make sure to let you know the good news! Last week the House unanimously passed House Bill 1537. This is a great step toward continued accountability, transparency, and success in Tennessee’s classrooms.

Thanks to the leadership of Representative Kevin Brooks, parents and teachers will have access to TNReady questions and answers and students will take fewer, but better tests districtwide. Throughout Tennessee, additional state-required tests will be eliminated allowing more time in the classroom for teaching and learning.

We join with parents, students, teachers, and education leaders in thanking Representative Brooks (click here to email Representative Brooks) for his work to bring this bill to the House floor. We look forward to the impact it will have on making sure every student in Tennessee is given the tools they need to succeed.

Legislative Update – Week of March 2, 2016

We promised when we stepped into this important work to make sure every student in Tennessee is prepared for success that we would do our best to inform you of the goings on in education in Tennessee. We also promised something else: that you would know when our students needed you to step in on behalf of their success.

Today’s that day.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve talked about the Achievement School District. Tennessee’s unique turn-around model to help rescue failing schools is a practical and proven way to make sure every student –regardless of zip code – can achieve, grow, and succeed. The work to help rescue students in schools with decades-long history of chronic under-performance takes time. In the last year, we’ve celebrated growth and achievement in ASD schools and we’ve seen the tide start to turn after far too many years of expecting mediocrity.

Unfortunately, not everyone stands up to help rescue failing schools.

Next week a bill determined to slow down the growth and achievement of the ASD will be before the House Education Administration and Planning Committee Subcommittee. It’s a bill that embraces an age-old political trick: call it something simple and pleasant so citizens won’t fight against it. We promised you we’d pay attention and dig deep into legislation, no matter its pleasant name or caption.

HB 858 looks past decades of failing Tennessee’s students, encourages the status quo, and embraces the disastrous cycle of mediocrity that brought us to this moment. Education is the responsibility of everyone involved in the classroom: students, teachers, parents, and administrators. At our core, we believe every student should have the tools to succeed. If a student in Tennessee is in a failing school, every week, every semester, every year we wait to intervene is another year a Tennessee student is failing. Too many weeks, too many semesters, too many years go by and Tennessee’s students might not ever see success.

Before the end of the day, please take a moment to email the House Education Administration and Planning Committee Subcommittee and ask them to vote against HB 858. Stand up for the students stuck in failing schools and for the good work to help rescue our kids.