Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn met with First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona at the University of Tennessee (UT) on Monday as the pair kicked off the Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour.
It’s day one of the #RoadToSuccess bus tour! @FLOTUS & I will be in Tennessee today discussing best practices to recruit & prepare qualified educators for the classroom. #EDBusTour22 pic.twitter.com/xKtdNy3swM
— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) September 12, 2022
The group was welcomed by Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon at ceremony held at UT.
As previously reported by The Tennessee Star, the U.S. Department of Education’s Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour includes showcasing the different ways school communities across the country support students and teachers. In addition, the tour also serves as a way for the first lady and Secretary Cardona to see how schools are utilizing the resources provided to them by the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan.
In July of 2021, The Star reported that the Volunteer State received $830 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan in order to reopen and secure schools following the pandemic. In total, the state has received nearly $2.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Funds.
One day after arriving at McGhee Tyson Airport, First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary Cardona first traveled to Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy in Knox County before speaking at the University of Tennessee.
While the pair was at Sarah Moore Greene Academy, they met with teachers participating in the state’s Grow Your Own Initiative.
Tennessee’s Grow Your Own Initiative supports partnerships in order to provide “innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession and will continue to build pipelines of qualified teachers and school district professionals,” as previously noted by The Star. The initiative is part of the state’s Best for All strategic plan, which sets a vision for Tennessee to be “the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader.”
After speaking at the University of Tennessee on Monday, the First Lady and Education Secretary traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, continuing the Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour. The tour will finish out the week with additional stops in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn served as the only representative of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s cabinet while meeting with First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona at the University of Tennessee, as an apparent endorsement of the American Rescue Plan.
Schwinn has been under fire in recent years over a number of issues, including lawsuits and allegations. For example, the Commissioner was criticized after it was revealed that her husband works for the company that benefited from an $8.06 million reading initiative contract. Additionally, in 2021, Schwinn was part of a group that came out in support of President Joe Biden’s executive order on vaccine mandates.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Image “First Lady Biden, Ed Sec Cardona, and TN Ed Commissioner Schwinn in Knoxville” by Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.