March 29, 2021
The Tennessee General Assembly is in session and legislators are hard at work. Here are a few education-related items we are keeping an eye on for the work week of March 29-April 2, 2021.
The Senate Education Committee will be taking up its last calendar over the next several weeks, with the House subcommittees poised to wrap up hearings within the same timeframe.
Specifically, House Education Instruction Subcommittee will hear HB647 (Rep. Faison), which creates a different 11th grade student assessment for a student who intends to attend a career and technical college or pursue a career path and does not require that student to take a college assessment test. TSS will strongly oppose this bill. While we have supported similar initiatives – like the one sponsored by Rep. Haston in the Tennessee Work Ready Opportunity Program – these initiatives were not intended to replace the college assessments that are already provided to our students. TSS believes that our students should have choices when it comes to career evaluation but should never be diverted from having the opportunity to pursue a college education. The Senate companion was added late to the Senate Education Committee calendar and likely will not be heard until next week. The subcommittee will also hear HB1446 (Rep. Hicks), which directs the department to provide career and technical education opportunities for students in middle school. It also requires an Local Education Agency (LEA) to provide students in 7th or 8th grade with information on available career and technical education programs upon administering a career aptitude assessment. TSS will support this bill. The Senate companion will likely be heard next week.
TSS plans on opposing two bills in the House K-12 Subcommittee. The first, HB858 (Rep. Powers), was originally written to authorize virtual schools to exceed maximum class size by 30%. We understand that there is an amendment on the bill that would instead expand the enrollment in virtual schools from 1,500 to 2,500 students. TSS has serious concerns regarding the quality of education provided given the changes in enrollment. TSS will also oppose HB1407 (Rep. Haston), which will be amended to authorize the implementation of a teacher evaluation advisory committee, which will study and provide recommendations on the teacher evaluation system.
The Senate Education Committee’s work this week will largely focus on confirmation of various appointments and substantive work on bills will likely take up most of next week’s calendar.