June 1, 2020
The 111th General Assembly returns to session this week and will focus some of their energy on legislation pending before the sudden recess in March. They have set an aggressive schedule, including daily floor sessions in each chamber.
The House had a full committee schedule last week while the Senate activity was limited to the Finance Committee, where they received an overview of COVID-19-related federal funding from the Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley. The economic fallout from this pandemic is substantial, with potential long-lasting impact. Gov. Bill Lee said his administration is committed to maintaining current state funding for schools, even as Tennessee faces a revenue shortfall that economists estimate will run between $500 million and $1.7 billion. Read more on that here.
The House Education Committee debated and passed an amended version of the Tennessee Literacy Success Act, which ensures instructional programming for students in grades kindergarten through three (K-3), is based on the foundational reading skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
With only 34.9 percent of students meeting expectations in ELA across grade levels, we must address literacy head-on with comprehensive legislation that provides students with the necessary instruction and high-quality material to improve student success. The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to debate the literacy bill this Wednesday
Last week, legislation to create the Tennessee Commission on Education Recovery and Innovation was introduced with an amendment to SB 1974/HB 2470. The nine-member commission would make recommendations on strategies to close educational gaps resulting from school closures and to modernize the state’s educational structure to create more flexibility in the delivery of education to students.
For a good read on what the Tennessee Legislature is prioritizing during the June 2020 session, click here.
To see action taken last week on education bills, click here.
The Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidance for restaurants and retail, along with new guidelines that enable attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions on or after May 22.
On May 22, Governor Lee issued Executive Order No. 38, allowing groups of up to 50 people to participate in social and recreational activities while encouraging social distancing.
More than 400,000 tests, or 6 percent of the State’s population, have been administered since March. If you would like to get tested, there is free testing available at every county health department.
Last week, the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group issued guidance for non-contact sports, overnight camps, and Tennessee’s higher education institutions. For a full timeline of actions taken by the State since January 2020, click here.
Recently, TSS’ President & CEO, Adam Lister, released a letter on remaining vigilant in our pursuit of student success and improvement so that emerging from this crisis, students continue to have every opportunity for success.
Lister urged policymakers to remain committed to student success, “While these extraordinary times create challenges and interrupt traditional learning in the short term, we maintain the expectation that state and local officials share our simple but audacious goal that every student in Tennessee has access to an excellent public education and an opportunity for success.”
Read the full letter from Adam Lister here.
Tristar Reads, our summer reading scholarship program is in full swing. Beginning in May each year, we welcome students of all ages to participate in reading all summer long with us. At the end of the summer, the three students who read the most amount within each age division, are awarded a $1,000 scholarship for their future post-secondary education.
Keep up with the Tristar Reads newsletter as we welcome special guests to read aloud each week. Last week, we featured Chairman Mark White reading “The Little Engine That Could.” Read along with the chairman here.
ICYMI: Tristar Reads has a leadership program that allows Tennesseans who are passionate about literacy to become a Team Leader and recruit students to their team to read all summer long with us. If you’re interested in becoming a Team Leader or joining a team, reach out to Jessica Whitmill with any questions or sign up here.
COVID-19 has upended every facet of life; education is no exception. SCORE, State Collaborative on Reforming Education, recently released a series of memos that offer a deep dive into how the pandemic is affecting key education issues in the state and presents clear student-centered solutions to help us find the right path forward.
As teachers, school leaders, state policymakers, and institutions of higher learning seek vital information related to education disruptions, SCORE’s COVID-19 Impact Memo series is a useful tool in navigating these new times we’re living in.
View the full COVID-19 Impact Memo series from SCORE here.
June 3rd – 10:00AM: Senate Education Committee
Stay on top of the Tennessee General Assembly’s schedule here.