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Legislative Update – March 5th, 2018

Did you catch our new video on Facebook or Twitter?

Last week, we launched a new four-week series called #LearnInThree where we take one of our policy priorities, one of our TSS staffers, and one camera. Three minutes later, we’ve broken down some of the big ideas in education reform. We’ll post these four videos on Saturdays in March. We hope you’ll watch and share them with your networks!

Up this week in the General Assembly? Two bills we’re supporting and one we oppose. We also want to extend a big thank you to all of you who contacted your elected officials last week. Keep your eye on our new voter engagement platform – we’ll post new bills throughout the session. Thank you!

House Bill 2030 / Senate Bill 1975 (Forgety/Gardenhire) – We talk a lot here about increasing the opportunities for our high school students to get hands-on, real-world experience in their chosen fields. Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) and dual enrollment courses are a great way for students to get a head start on their next steps toward success. This legislation would provide EPSOs for students interested in working in advanced integrated industrial technology. Tennesseans for Student Success supports this bill and all opportunities that help our students be ready for success.

House Bill 2525 / Senate Bill 2399 (Beck/Kyle) – You’ve heard us say before that politics should stop at a school’s front door and we will always fight politically-motivated legislation that threatens Tennessee’s academic progress. This bill would prevent some public charter schools from receiving the information necessary to help inform parents of public choices available for their children. Tennesseans for Student Success opposes this bill.

Mentioned last week and up in the General Assembly this week:

House Bill 1599 / Senate Bill 1649 (Forgety/Norris) – Like HB 2030, this legislation would improve student access to career and technical education through a high-quality, work-based learning system. By incentivizing business to provide these experiences and clarifying that participating students are covered under the school district’s liability insurance, more students will have access to EPSOs. Tennesseans for Student Success supports this bill.

We say it often, and we mean it more with each passing week – thank you for being invested in the success of every Tennessee student. We couldn’t do this work without you.

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.