Inside TNSuccess

Inside TNSuccess: June 29

111th General Assembly Legislative Wrap-Up

The Tennessee General Assembly officially adjourned sine die at 3 am on June 19th, which means, barring a special session being called, they will not reconvene again until January 2021 with a newly elected 112th General Assembly. The response and evolving strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee interrupted the ordinary course of the 2020 session. COVID-19 continues to negatively impact thousands of Tennesseans and the General Assembly appropriately shifted its focus to respond to the unprecedented health and economic crisis. The sudden shift resulted in the cessation of legislative debate on several policy proposals and investments related to K-12 education. Look for a policy wrap-up highlighting the education legislation that did pass and proposals that may be reconsidered next year, in our next newsletter.

At the beginning of 2020, Governor Lee gave his State of the State address in which he reaffirmed his commitment to public education by making recommendations that included: an investment in teacher’s salaries, professional development and innovation advancement opportunities, mental health, and a new comprehensive, research-based approach to literacy. We are grateful for the leadership that prioritizes Tennessee’s one million students and for the hard work the TN Department of Education and local districts continue to do to keep our students safe while developing innovative strategies to support student growth.

Unfortunately, the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 forced the legislature to pass a revised budget that addressed a $500 million revenue shortfall in the current 2020 budget and a $1 billion deficit in the next year. We’re thankful that the Governor and the General Assembly maintained fully funding the Basic Education Program, or BEP, formula, which allocates state dollars to school districts, as they made tough decisions to balance the budget. With the learning loss from school closures and a commitment to educational equity, at Tennesseans for Student Success, we are committed to continuing to work with state leaders and the legislature for the next session to provide promising results to Tennessee kids and their families.

Do you have an interest in learning more about education reform in Tennessee and talking with like-minded folks on how to advance the policies that influence Tennessee’s one million students? If so, sign up for our Education Policy Discussion Group and participate in the conversation to help create positive change. Sign up here for more information.

Tennessee COVID-19 Update

The following updates are from Governor Lee’s press conference last week:

  • As of today, Governor Lee extended Tennessee’s state of emergency to August 29. 
  • The Governor, in conjunction with Speaker Sexton and Lt. Gov. McNally, is exploring options of potentially calling a special session to take up a COVID-19 liability protection bill for Tennessee businesses, including churches, healthcare providers, and schools.
  • Tennessee Business Relief program is planning to begin distributing monetary relief by early July. The Governor encouraged businesses to ensure their Tennessee Department of Revenue information is current and up to date to ensure proper distribution of the funds.
  • The Harvard Opportunity Insights Tracker has ranked Tennessee #1 in the country for recovery in restaurant and hotel spending.
  • Tennessee has achieved the second-highest recovery rate in the nation for apparel and general merchandise spending.
  • Tennessee has seen a 145% increase in out of state travelers from April to May, and an increase in hotel demand by 54% from April to May.

Inside Equity in Education with The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga

Every day, TSS works to improve, through policy and politics, public education. Our mission is to build political power and influence to ensure the development and implementation of policies that support educational opportunity is for ALL Tennesseans. Read more about our response from President & CEO Adam Lister here.

Through intentional outreach and out of a response to work in partnership with education groups that are working towards the mission of equity in education, we are adding a new “Inside Equity in Education” series to Inside TNSuccess as a way to listen and learn with education partners who are actively engaging in reconciliation work on the ground.

Our first feature is Sammy Loudermilk from the Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, TN. The Enterprise Center’s aim is to promote digital inclusion by “leveraging the city’s digital technology to create, demonstrate, test, and apply solutions for the 21st century.” Mr. Loudermilk is the Program Manager for the Tech Goes Home program and he fleshed out the organization’s mission, the impact the organization has on Chattanooga, and how you can get involved. Read our full interview with Sammy Loudermilk here.

Mark Your Calendar for our Tristar Reads & TNStars College Savings Webinar 

Join Tristar Reads and TNStars for an exciting, informational webinar about college savings and college and career readiness.

At the end of Tristar Reads’ summer reading competition, three hard-working readers will win a $1000 scholarship for their 529 college savings account. A 529 account is designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs and yields a fantastic return on your investment. 529 Plans are open to everyone and offer special tax advantages.

Learn more about how to set up an account, the benefits of saving for college through a 529 account, and more about TSS’ commitment to college and career readiness during a short and informative 30-minute webinar on Thursday, July 9th, at 3:30pm CT/4:30pm ET. 

Who: Parents, teachers, those involved in helping students save for college

What: 30-minute webinar on college savings through a 529 account with TNSTARS and Tristar Reads.

When: ThursdayJuly 9th

Where: Online! After signing up, you will receive a zoom link with a calendar invite

It’s Go Time for Tennessee Students

With the uncertainty of the times, more students than usual are hesitating to secure their plans for college this fall. Completing a post-secondary degree prepares today’s students with an opportunity for success in their future.

SCORE, along with other higher education partners in the State, have collaborated to create this campaign to encourage high school students to enroll in college this fall. The impetus of the message to share with students is these three easy steps:

1. Get college documents in before July 15th. 

2. Attend college orientation.

3. GO to college this fall.  Don’t wait any longer. The time is now! Find out more by following on Twitter at @ItsGoTimeTN.

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