Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Rep. Mark White of Memphis to the newsmakers line to weigh in on the Department of Education’s usurpation of power and federal grants used to push critical race theory in states public education.Read More
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.Read More
Legislators are looking to standardize Black history curriculum in grades 5 and 8, and have the state provide additional resources by 2025. The bill in question specified that fifth and eighth-grade students would learn about Black heritage, culture, experience, and the “ultimate destiny of all social, ethnic, gender and national groups and individuals, and that such are represented as interdependent, interactive, and complementary.” It also specified that the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) would provide internet resources and materials for K-12 instruction in the subject.
State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) first introduced the bill, followed with a companion bill filed by State Representative Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga). Senate committees recommended the bill for passage with amendments. Although senators applauded the basis for the idea, they expressed concern over the fiscal impact of the bill. They also questioned the reality of schools’ ability to craft a new curriculum of that magnitude by this fall, as the bill required originally.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Tennessee’s graduation rate among public school students has declined for the first time since 2015, according to data on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.
A total of just 89.6 percent of the state’s high school students graduated in 2020, the TDOE’s website reported.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education launched a new dashboard Wednesday to report COVID-19 case data on a school district level.
A majority of school districts have submitted information for the dashboard, but it does not reflect full reporting across all districts. The department said it expects data from every school district to be reported and included on the dashboard by Sept. 22. Data will be updated on a weekly basis.Read More
Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn interned for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) almost 20 years ago, according to a resume that Schwinn posted online.
Schwinn posted that resume to a document more than 10 years ago.Read More
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.Read More
Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles to the show to discuss the Tennessee Department of Education’s new “wellness liaisons” that can check up on children at schools and at their homes.Read More
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.Read More
Tennessee’s Department of Education has announced $15 million in matching grants to help school districts provide MiFi devices and data coverage for 100,000 student households without internet access. MiFi devices access the internet over the cellular network using a procedure commonly referred to as “tethering.”
Funds will go to school districts as a matching grant to provide an estimated 100,000 households with internet access for distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. Priority will be given to households most in need.Read More
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.Read More
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is pushing to launch his school voucher program a year early, in the 2020-2021 school year, education blog Chalkbeat said. The General Assembly had set a deadline of the 2021-2022 school year, the blog said. Lee told the Tennessee Department of Education to work with…Read More
A new Tennessee law requires the state’s high school students not only take but pass a high school civics test. As Chalkbeat.org reported, Tennessee high school students previously only had to take the test to graduate. Now, they must also pass the exam. No one at the Tennessee Department…Read More
Students attending K-12 public schools in Tennessee are struggling to perform above average on national standardized tests. Partially adopted in 2010 and fully implemented by the 2013-14 school year, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) failed to produce the academic results expected. The Tennessee Department of Education and Governor Bill…Read More
On Friday’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 – the team discussed how Williamson County Schools failed to follow Tennessee State law by submitting a calendar for the academic year instead…Read More
On Wednesday’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 held a special discussion after Mark Levin featured the WCS boards in service training modules on…Read More
By Tennessee law, the Williamson County School Board is required to approve In-service training plans for teachers. As reported, this year’s In-service training of Williamson County Schools teachers for the academic year 2018-2019 includes a “Cultural Competency” video series that preached “white privilege.” At present, there is no evidence that…Read More
On Tuesday’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 discussed the legal implications of Williamson County schools Superintendent Mike Looney who has allegedly gone rogue and…Read More
By Tennessee law, members of the Williamson County School Board must adopt the In-Service training for teachers before Superintendent Mike Looney files it with the Tennessee Department of Education. Again, it’s state law. The Tennessee Department of Education’s (TDOE) website says so. Here is exactly what Tennessee Code Annotated Section 49-6-3004,…Read More
A Williamson County Schools teacher who was forced to sit through the Williamson County Schools Competency Training Series video on “white privilege” contacted The Tennessee Star on Wednesday and delivered a searing critique of the in-service training created and mandated by Williamson County Schools superintendent Mike Looney. “Please investigate this as…Read More
The Williamson County School System is serious about prioritizing its In-Service teacher training, so much so administrators spent 22 percent more on it for this 2018-19 school year versus the prior one. According to the school system’s budget, administrators spent $689,989 on their In-Service/Staff Development training this school year. For…Read More
Williamson County officials had the ultimate power to approve an In-service “white privilege” training curriculum for their teachers last month, said a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education Wednesday. But that’s inconsistent with the TDOE’s standards and practices on In-service teacher training, as specified on that department’s website. Tennessee’s…Read More
Tupac Shakur said, “Behind every sweet smile, there is a bitter sadness that no one can ever see and feel.” I spent time with Commissioner McQueen as more than a casual observer. Her heart and passion were always for the children and teachers in Tennessee. She fought battles which nobody knew about and which, despite the lofty title in front of her name, she had little control.Read More
Public education is not “broken.” Public education policy is “broken,” and neighborhood public schools are suffering the consequences. Here are nine of the most critical and challenging issues in public education we should address in 2019 in Tennessee.Read More
Public schools nationwide might use federal money to arm teachers in class, but don’t look for Tennessee to participate. “With very few exceptions, it is unlawful for anyone in Tennessee – educator or otherwise – to possess a firearm on school grounds,” said Sarah Gast, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department…Read More
“If you don’t understand — from the school district to the superintendents — that we want our teachers held harmless, then I’m sorry, you’re tone-deaf.” —-State Representative Eddie Smith (Knoxville). That message was heard and understood statewide, right? Apparently not. We are receiving reports from across the state that some districts are denying their teachers their justified and earned bonuses, which harms the educator.Read More
Before he packs up and vacates the Tennessee governor’s mansion early next year, Bill Haslam wants a dialogue with you about ways to improve TNReady. Haslam, at the state capitol Tuesday, announced what he described as a listening tour to do just that. The current governor and a team of…Read More
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill was flabbergasted on Monday’s edition of The Gill Report – broadcast on Knoxville’s 92.3 FM WETR – regarding the repeated incompetence displayed at the Tennessee Department of Education. Gill commented, “The Tennessee Department of Education has stepped in it again.” He continued: One of…Read More
The risk of misidentifying and mislabeling teacher performance based on test scores is too high for it to be the major indicator of teacher performance, especially when you look at issues such as student demographic characteristics. A number of states, including Michigan, have since taken steps to lessen the impact test scores have on teacher evaluations, repeatedly mentioning factors outside an educator’s control which can influence a student’s academic performance.Read More
Students improved most in early grades reading, narrowed achievement gaps; show need for deeper, more sustained work to support improvement. Professional Educators of Tennessee added comments and concerns.Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education announced at a noon press conference on Thursday several changes to the state TNReady test that teachers, administrators and superintendents have been asking the state to make, the Professional Educators said in a statement released on Thursday. “Among the changes include rebidding the testing contract,…Read More
“If you don’t understand — from the school district to the superintendents — that we want our teachers held harmless, then I’m sorry, you’re tone-deaf,” said State Representative Eddie Smith.Read More
After months of preparing for the annual year-end assessments, many Tennessee students struggled to log on to the TNReady testing platform Monday morning. The Department of Education says the problem was quickly fixed by the vendor, and over 20,000 students took the test after the problems were resolved. “We share…Read More
After three years and little success, the Tennessee Department of Education remains riddled with problems implementing statewide online testing platforms, TNReady. According to an email blast from Chief Information Officer for the Tennessee Department of Education Cliff Lloyd on March 6, the state’s online testing platform experienced more technical difficulties…Read More
House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) is calling for state legislative hearings on problems with TNReady scoring. “We have made great strides over the last several years in education, and we must be diligent in ensuring we continue these gains,” Harwell said on Facebook Tuesday. “We know that accountability has been a…Read More
Tennessee teachers surveyed this past spring reported frustration with statewide standardized exams, while administrators surveyed showed more confidence in them. A majority of teachers disagreed with the statement, “Overall, information received from statewide standardized exams is worth the investment of time and effort.” Sixty-five percent disagreed, while only 35…Read More
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Education commissioner Candice McQueen on Thursday outlined progress K-12 public schools have made toward meeting the goals of Tennessee Succeeds. McQueen spoke at the annual joint meeting of the State Board of Education and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission held in downtown Nashville. The Tennessee Succeeds…Read More
On Thursday, the Tennessee Department of Education released the results of the latest round of student testing, which showed that “Tennessee high school students improved across all subject areas – English, math, science, and U.S. history – on the 2016-17 TNReady end-of-course exams.” “This growth is encouraging, and it shows…Read More
The Tennessee Department of Education has hit yet another snag in getting spring standardized test results to school districts. Questar, the vendor for TNReady tests, is having problems with its scanning software used to grade paper exams. The state was already having problems with delivering raw scores, partly because some…Read More
All children in Tennessee deserve an exceptional education. School improvement is only possible when accompanied within a framework of collaboration and support.Read More
A delay in getting standardized test results is frustrating school officials across Tennessee as they get ready to send out report cards and wrap up the year. As a result, many districts are opting not to factor in TNReady test scores for final grades. The problems come a year…Read More
Tennessee is scrambling to come up with ways to find and keep quality teachers in the classroom. The state Department of Education released a report last week that details the problem and outlines proposed solutions that focus especially on strengthening ties with teacher education programs in the state’s postsecondary schools. “More…Read More
Today, with inclusion being the norm, a teacher is given the unenviable task of teaching all students with individualized lessons appropriate for them. In some schools, there may be support from teacher aides or education specialists, but society demands (and rightly so) that each student be given the same opportunities.Read More
Metro Nashville Public Schools hopes to spend $4.7 million on adding numerous new positions next year to meet the needs of students who have a native language other than English. In the district’s proposed budget for the 2017-2018 school year, MNPS plans to add 31 English Learner (EL) teachers to…Read More