Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Ed Commissioner Penny Schwinn Launch Student-Centered Funding Approach for Public School Students

Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN) and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn presented details Thursday of the legislation for the new student-based funding formula, known as the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement formula (TISA).

During a livestream presentation, the governor said that, following input from people all over the state, they now have “a piece of legislation and a funding formula that Tennesseans can understand, that parents can understand, that teachers and districts can understand.”

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Mayor Andy Ogles on Public Schools and County Commission: ‘Communication Is Key’

Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Mayor Andy Ogles in studio to discuss the importance of communication between school boards and the county commission.

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Governor Bill Lee and State Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn to Announce New School Funding Legislation

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn are scheduled to announce legislation for the new student-based funding formula, known as the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement formula (TISA) this week. According to an emailed statement, Lee and Schwinn are scheduled to present the legislation on Thursday, February 24.

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Moms for Liberty – Williamson County President Says Penny Schwinn Has Moral Responsibility to Act Against Critical Race Theory

Moms for Liberty Williamson County (ML-WC) President Robin Steenman said this week that she will refile a complaint that Tennessee Department Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn rejected last November. Steenman complained about the Williamson County School System’s Wit & Wisdom curriculum, which she said perpetuates the tenants of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

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Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn Call for Review of State Education Funding Formula

On Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn invited Tennesseans to participate in the full review of the state’s education funding formula and explore possibilities for a more student-centered approach.

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Chiefs for Change, a Group Which Lists Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn as a Member, Issues Statement Supporting Joe Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Chiefs for Change, an educational advocacy group, has come out in support of President Joe Biden’s new executive order on vaccine mandates. Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, Penny Schwinn, is a part of the group.

In a statement on Thursday, the group applauded the President’s executive order, saying, “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective – and they are what will finally end this pandemic. We commend the Biden Administration for requiring staff at all Head Start programs, Department of Defense schools, and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools to get vaccinated, and we echo the president’s request that states require vaccines for their K-12 employees.”

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Tennessee Department of Education Awarded $830 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded Tennessee $830 million in funds to reopen and secure schools. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) earned these funds based on their American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan (ESSER). All states may submit an ARP ESSER plan. So far, ED reports that 40 states have submitted one.

According to the ED press release, this latest funding brings Tennessee’s total ARP funds to nearly $2.5 billion.

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Tennessee Education Commissioner $8 Million Contract with Company Where Husband Works Has CEO That Supports Critical Race Theory, ‘Anti-Racist’ Teaching

DAN WEISBERG

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn awarded an $8.06 million contract to a company whose CEO supports Critical Race Theory and anti-racism in classrooms. As The Tennessee Star reported previously, Schwinn’s husband works at The New Teacher Project (TNTP) as well.

TNTP CEO Dan Weisberg has posted frequently about his support for critical race theory and anti-racist teaching. Weisberg tweeted articles showing his support for the two ideologies five times in the last month, as of this publication.

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Another No-Bid Contract Under Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn

Tennessee’s Education Commissioner, Penny Schwinn, wants to award another no-bid contract – this time, $7.5 million in federal funds over 3 years for a variety of services from NCS Pearson. These services would entail a K-3 Early Grade Universal Screening and Monitoring System (EGUSMS), which would include universal screening for literacy and math, dyslexia screening, mental health screening, progress monitoring, and data organization. Pearson’s EGUSMS would also provide the online reporting tools, training resources, and technical support for educators implementing the EGUSMS tools. If all options to renew are exercised for a 5-year term, then the cost would total $12.5 million.

Schwinn justified the decision to make NCS Pearson the sole source by claiming that none of the other vendors met the state’s minimum requirements. Schwinn added that the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) hadn’t put forth a complete request for proposal (RFP) out due to the short notice and prompt need for schools to obtain these services.

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Andy Ogles on Critical Race Theory: ‘Once You Capture the Minds of the Children, You’re Changing the Next Generation’

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles to the studio to weigh in on Nashville’s educrats that claim critical race theory is a suggestion and questioned the continued employment of Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn.

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Commentary: Connecting the Dots on ‘Wit and Wisdom’

Williamson County parents are upset about the recently adopted Wit & Wisdom curriculum being used with their children. On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, about 350 parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens settled into their seats at the Moonshine Harley-Davidson in Franklin, Tennessee to listen to Robin Steenman and her Moms For Liberty-Willamson County discuss how the concerning curriculum snuck its way into our school district. In a mostly Republican, conservative, community on the outskirts of Nashville, residents were shocked.

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Tennessee Education Commissioner to Publish Guidance on Critical Race Theory Ban Compliance by August 1

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn promised to publish educator guidance on the state’s critical race theory ban by August 1. The ban was first proposed in the Tennessee General Assembly by State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge). The law itself doesn’t mention critical race theory by name, but it does address the theory’s tenets and practices at length.

Schwinn revealed the plan to issue guidance in an exclusive interview with Chalkbeat on Wednesday. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) guidance will also address the question of how the commissioner would uphold the ban, including a complaint evaluation process and financial penalty system. Ragan’s amendment noted that the commissioner would determine how much state funding to withhold for violations.

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Crom Carmichael Illustrates Why School Choice Is Important Now More Than Ever as Critical Race Theory Continues

Empty classroom

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in studio to explain why school choice is becoming more important why parents need to stand up against critical race theory despite limited resources.

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Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Gave $8 Million Contract to Company That Employs Her Husband

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s husband works for the company that benefited from an $8.06 million reading initiative contract.

Apparently, Commissioner Schwinn keeps it all in the family. As The Tennessee Star reported last fall, sources claimed that Schwinn imported former colleagues from Texas when she assumed her role within TDOE. They also claimed that they were subjected to hiring freezes and pressure to slash budgets, though Schwinn had no problem with maintaining the six-figure salaries for her imports.

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Tennessee Department of Education Faced Lawsuit over Textbook Bias Allegedly Perpetrated by Commissioner Penny Schwinn

A lawsuit alleged that Commissioner Penny Schwinn favored certain textbook vendors without merit at the expense of more qualified vendors. Textbook and educational materials publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) filed the suit against the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) in November of 2019. Consequently, HMH noted that the sale of all other grade levels of reading materials offered by HMH were jeopardized, since they are designed to be implemented together from K-12 curriculum.

The Tennessee State Board of Education acted on the recommendation of an advisory panel appointed by the Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission to not adopt HMH’s third grade reading material. HMH claimed that the advisory panel’s process was disrupted after Schwinn appointed Dr. Lisa Coons as TDOE Assistant Commissioner for Standards and Materials. Thereafter, HMH claimed that the panel re-reviewed and failed HMH’s material, while TDOE adopted programs offered by competitors that also received failing grades.

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Tennessee Department of Education Gives $1 Million to Left-Leaning PBS

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Education announced late last week that they will give $1 million of taxpayer money to Tennessee’s six PBS stations to help educate students throughout the state. As reported last year, several organizations, including the Family Research Council, have faulted PBS’ educational materials for what they call a left-leaning bias.

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Tennessee Stands Announces New Plans to Help Conservative Candidates Across the State

Tennessee Stands, based out of Williamson County, announced new initiatives Friday, including new partnerships and a new initiative to recruit right-leaning candidates for county commission and school board seats across the state.

This, according to an emailed press release that Tennessee Stands speaker Gary Humble emailed Friday.

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COVID-19, Spending Cuts Focus of Tennessee Education Budget Discussions

Teacher raises, vacant positions and funding for school districts with decreased enrollment this school year were some of the topics discussed Tuesday as the chiefs of Tennessee’s education agencies presented their proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

Gov. Bill Lee is hearing budget presentations from each of his state agencies over the course of the week, preparing to put together a state budget proposal Lee will present to the Tennessee Legislature in his State of the State address next year.

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Lawmakers, Superintendents Blindsided by Tennessee Department of Education Learning Loss Projections

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s announcement of COVID-19-related learning loss projections for Tennessee students took state lawmakers and school superintendents by surprise.

In a joint news conference with Gov. Bill Lee last week, Schwinn announced Tennessee students are expected to face learning loss of 50% in English and 65% in math, stressing the importance of in-person learning. Projections were based on national research and early results of beginning-of-year student checkpoint assessments in Tennessee.

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Tennessee Projects 65 Percent Learning Loss in Math, 50 Percent Loss in Third Grade Reading After COVID-19 Closures

Reading proficiency among Tennessee third-graders is projected to drop by 50%, and math proficiency is projected to drop by 65% because of COVID-19-related school closures, according to preliminary projections released by the Department of Education.

Gov. Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced the projected learning loss during a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

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Tennessee State Rep. Bruce Griffey Wants No Confidence Vote on Penny Schwinn

State Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) on Tuesday announced he wants members of the General Assembly to issue a vote of no confidence in Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

Griffey announced this through an emailed press release as well as a statement he published on his Facebook page.

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Former TDOE Employees Warn That Penny Schwinn Jeopardizes Tennessee’s Public Schools As Well As Bill Lee’s Reelection Chances

Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s leadership problems could trickle down to the state’s public schools, and parents are right to worry.

Additionally, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who appointed Schwinn, should worry that she could cost him reelection in 2022.

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Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Has Created ‘a Fairly Abysmal’ Work Environment, Former Employees Allege

Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn and her leadership skills have created a toxic work environment and driven too many talented state workers away and into the private sector, said three former TDOE employees.

These are the same three sources who criticized Schwinn in an article that The Tennessee Star published Wednesday. Those sources spoke on condition of anonymity. They said the problems within the department started when Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee appointed Schwinn. And the sources also said the difficulties began not despite Schwinn — but because of her.

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Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Formally Asks Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to Fire Penny Schwinn

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner (TDEC) Penny Schwinn must leave, said Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles on Wednesday.

Ogles posted on his Facebook page that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee must remove Schwinn. Ogles said he formally called on Lee to do this only hours after he read Wednesday’s Tennessee Star article that quoted three former TDEC higher-ups. Those former employees, speaking anonymously, denounced Schwinn and her alleged on-the-job behavior. They said she falsified government records, ridiculed Lee at TDEC staff meetings, and lied to avoid appearing in public alongside U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

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Documents Show Tennessee Department of Education Misrepresented Intended Scope of Child Well-Being Checks

While the Tennessee Department of Education has said temporarily withdrawn guidance on child well-being checks was not intended to apply to every child, internal documents and emails sent in development of the guidance show officials have misrepresented the intended scope of the initiative in response to public outrage.

A guidance toolkit outlining statewide Child Wellbeing Checks was developed by the COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force and released Aug. 11. Within three days, the department had withdrawn the program after uproar over perceived big-brother style government overreach.

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Former Tennessee Department of Education Higher-Ups Criticize Commissioner Penny Schwinn

Three former high-level Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) officials who left the department voluntarily criticized their former boss, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in exclusive interviews with The Tennessee Star.

The former officials spoke with The Star on the condition of anonymity.

Their criticisms of Schwinn are withering, and include the following allegations.

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Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s Leadership Polarizing Many, According to Some Educators

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn may have lost the confidence of some influential people in Tennessee, at least according to a new editorial that the Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET) published this week.

The Nashville-based PET is a statewide professional association of educators, according to its website.

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Tennessee Group Says Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn Wants Too Great of a Role Nurturing Children

Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn is a leftist and a statist who wants the government to have too great of a role developing public school students, according to a video one organization released this week.

Gary Humble, speaking for Tennessee Stands, criticized Schwinn and the TDOE for proposing that state officials go to people’s homes to perform wellness checks on children.

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People Speak Out Against Big Brother Style Child Wellbeing Check Run by Tennessee Department of Education

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles says, “NO!!!” to Gov. Bill Lee’s Big Brother-style child wellbeing program that plans to send government officials to families’ homes to do welfare checks of children.

The Tennessee Department of Education says it released a toolkit on child wellbeing checks to ensure the needs of children are being met during and after extended periods away from school. It is promoted as protecting children.

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Gov. Lee Shares His ‘Child Wellbeing Plan’ With First Lady Melania Trump

Gov. Bill Lee spoke by phone Wednesday with First Lady Melania Trump on a new task force to address children’s mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House said Penny Schwinn, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education, also participated.

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Left-Wing PBS to Instruct Tennessee Children During Coronavirus Outbreak

The Tennessee Department of Education has secured a partnership with the state’s PBS stations to deliver daily educational content to public school students as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to keep them out of school.

Several organizations, including the Family Research Council, have, in the past, faulted PBS’s educational materials for what they call a left-leaning bias.

TDOE spokeswoman Victoria Robinson on Thursday said she could not describe the PBS content in detail or whether state officials are making sure it has no political biases.

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JC Bowman Commentary: Grow Your Own Teachers

Tennessee is a unique state, not only because we have the greatest citizens, but because of our geography.  We border eight states.  That can be an advantage and a disadvantage at times.  When economic times are good, people want to relocate to our state.  When economic times are difficult, it allows residents to move to a neighboring state and pursue more money in their chosen occupation.  In education, we lose teachers to our border states on a regular basis.

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Gov. Lee to Provide Grants to Schools That Teach American History, Civic Values

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the launch of the Governor’s Civics Seal and mini-grant program to provide support and recognize schools and districts that prioritize teaching the nation’s history and civic values.

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The Tennessee Star Report: Gill and Leahy Discuss WCS Video Series and the Forced Education of Global Citizenship

On Monday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy talked in depth about the Williamson County school districts “Cultural Competency” video training series that have been…

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JC Bowman Commentary: State of the State Expectations 2019

The State of the State will signal to the state the administration’s priorities for the immediate future. It is where campaign promises, either become realities or go to die.

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Governor Bill Lee Delivers Inspiring Inaugural Address Short on Specifics

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Republican Bill Lee took the oath as governor on Saturday and then delivered a broadly inspiring, almost pastoral, inaugural address in a 15-minute speech that did not provide much in the way of the specifics of his agenda. The inauguration was held indoors at War Memorial Auditorium due to…

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Bill Lee Names UC Berkeley Grad Penny Schwinn, Who Began Career at Teach for America, as Education Commissioner

On Thursday Governor-Elect Bill Lee named 36-year-old Penny Schwinn, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, who began her career in education working as a teacher for Teach for America, as Tennessee’s new Commissioner of Education. Kevin Huffman, who served as Commissioner of Education during the Haslam administration…

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