Legislative Week Ahead for Education Committees

Here is a look at the legislative week ahead for the Education Committees.

Tuesday – 12:30pm – LP 16 – House Education Committee

The House Education Committee will hear from Brent Easley of StudentsFirst. Brent Easley is a former Senior Research and Policy Analyst for the House Republican Caucus who recently took the post of State Director for StudentsFirst.

The committee will take up House Joint Resolution 10 (Deberry), which designates January 27-February 2, 2013, as “School Choice Week” in Tennessee.

Wednesday – 2:00pm – LP 12 – Senate Education Committee

The committee will take up three items.

1. SJR17- Gresham- Recognizes importance of neurological or brain science in the training of teacher candidates and encourages such training in teacher prep programs in state universities.

2. SB18 -Gresham – As introduced, prohibits an LEA or school from adopting an attendance policy that exempts students who have been absent less than a specified number of days from taking examinations or tests required of other students.

3. SB59 -Gresham- As introduced, authorizes and encourages teacher training programs at public institutions of higher education to offer coursework on neurological or brain science research.

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John Deberry and the Parent Trigger Bill

State Representative John DeBerry (D-Mempis) has filed the first parent trigger bill of the session. DeBerry, who survived his primary challenge thanks to over $112,000 from StudentsFirst, rewrites the current parent trigger laws in his bill (Yes, we already have trigger laws on the books). House Bill 77* lowers the threshold, from 60 percent to 51 percent, for how many signatures the parents must have before the school can be turned over to a charter. The bill is only for eligible public schools that are in the bottom twenty percent of the state in student academic performance. This bill is exactly what StudentsFirst wants to happen in Tennessee. StudentsFirst recently held a screening for the movie “Won’t Back Down” in Nashville. The movie, which is about two women who want to convert their failing inner city school over to a charter school, was attended by many political figures.  Huffington Post reported that “Won’t Back Down” set the record for worst opening of a film that released in over 2,500 theaters.

While StudentsFirst wants Tennessee to make it easier to “pull the trigger”, The Nashville City Paper reported that the current law has only “been in play” two times since the law was put on the books in 2002. The first in Memphis in 2007 when a school was turned over to a charter and is currently taking place in Knoxville, where a charter school is trying to take over a school after the charter was denied by the school board. Deberry is trying to change the law that has rarely been used.

Deberry has also filed a resolution to designate January 26 – February 2013 as “School Choice Week” in Tennessee.

*Senator Reginald Tate (D-Mempis) has filed the companion bill, SB483. Senator Tate is the 1st Vice-Chair for the Senate Education Committee.