Core Support

The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) released a letter yesterday urging the General Assembly to support the Common Core State Standards as they are rather than delaying their full implementation and developing new standards.

Legislation has been filed that would lead to the creation of new Tennessee Standards and delay testing aligned to those standards until the 2017-2018 academic year.

Here’s the text of the news release from TOSS and a list of the signers:

The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) today released a letter to all members of the General Assembly signed by 114 Tennessee superintendents and school district directors who are asking lawmakers not to change the state’s academic standards during this legislative session.
The leaders who signed the letter represent school districts that are educating more than 850,000 students, or nearly 86 percent of public school students in Tennessee. The letter points out that in the past seven years Tennessee’s K12 education system has undergone significant changes that have led to unprecedented progress in the quality of education that students receive.

Another major change will occur in the spring of 2016, when TNready, a new
statewide assessment aligned to Tennessee’s State Standards, is introduced.
“This work is paying off,” said TOSS Board Chairman Randy Frazier, Director of Weakley County Schools. “Tennessee has received national attention for historic gains in student achievement. That’s why we say to the
General Assembly, please do not derail this momentum. We are asking the members to make no adjustments to Tennessee’s State Standards before we have the results of the public review process set up by the Governor and the
State Board of Education. We also are asking that the implementation of TNready be allowed to proceed with no delays.”
The public review process allows Tennessee residents to review each standard for math and English language arts, to recommend whether the standard should be retained or changed, and to explain why.
“There has been unprecedented participation in the review process, especially by Tennessee teachers,” the TOSS letter says. “We ask that their input be valued and that we move forward with efforts to improve and enhance our
current standards and truly make them our own, while also giving educators and students the stability they desire and deserve.”
“The superintendents who signed these letters believe the input from those closest to the classroom should be valued and more of it should be gathered through the online review,” Kingsport City Schools Superintendent Dr.
Lyle Ailshie said. “We also believe that our teachers, principals, and students deserve some much-needed stability. For those reasons, we urge the General Assembly to allow the review to continue and to refrain from passing
legislation this year that disrupts standards or assessment.”
TOSS represents the state’s superintendents and directors of schools and is the leading advocate organization for public education in the state of Tennessee. The TOSS mission encompasses advancing public education, promoting
the work and interest of the superintendency, gathering and circulating information on general school matters, and providing pertinent information on sound education legislation to the General Assembly. TOSS also proposes and analyzes legislation that impacts local school systems.
These school district leaders signed the letter to the General Assembly:

Brian Bell, Alcoa City Schools
Larry Foster, Anderson County Schools
Robert Greene, Athens City Schools
Don Embry, Bedford County Schools
Mark Florence, Benton County Schools
Jennifer Terry, Bledsoe County Schools
Rob Britt, Blount County Schools
Dan Black, Bradford Special District
Gary Lilly, Bristol City Schools
Barbara Parker, Cannon County Schools
Johnny McAdams, Carroll County Schools
Kevin Ward, Carter County Schools
Stan Curtis, Cheatham County Schools
Troy Kilzer, Chester County Schools
Connie Holdway, Claiborne County Schools
B.J. Worthington, Clarksville-Montgomery
County Schools
Jerry Strong, Clay County Schools
Martin Ringstaff, Cleveland City Schools
Vicki Violette, Clinton City Schools
Manney Moore, Cocke County Schools
LaDonna McFall, Coffee County Schools
Robert Mullins, Crockett County Schools
Donald Andrews, Cumberland County
Schools
Mike Latham, Dayton City Schools
Mark Willoughby, DeKalb County Schools
Danny Weeks, Dickson County Schools
Dwight L. Hedge, Dyer County Schools
Neel Durbin, Dyersburg City Schools
Cory Gardenhour, Elizabethton City Schools
James Teague, Fayette County Schools
Janine Wilson, Fayetteville City Schools
Mike Jones, Fentress County Schools
Rebecca Sharber, Franklin County Schools
David L. Snowden, Franklin Special School
District
Eddie Pruett, Gibson County Special District
J.B. Smith, Giles County Schools
Edwin Jarnagin, Grainger County Schools
Vicki Kirk, Greene County Schools
Linda Stroud, Greeneville City Schools
David Dickerson, Grundy County Schools
Dale P. Lynch, Hamblen County Schools
Rick Smith, Hamilton County Schools
Troy Seal, Hancock County Schools
Warner Ross, Hardeman County Schools
Michael Davis, Hardin County Schools
Steve Starnes, Hawkins County Schools

Teresa Russell, Haywood County Schools
Steve Wilkinson, Henderson County Schools
Sam Miles, Henry County Schools
Jerry W. Nash, Hickman County Schools
Cathy Harvey, Houston County Schools
Versie Ray Hamlett, Humboldt City Schools
James L. (Jimmy) Long, Humphreys County
Schools
Pat Dillahunty, Huntingdon Special District
Joe Barlow, Jackson County Schools
Verna Ruffin, Jackson-Madison Co. Schools
Charles Edmonds, Jefferson County Schools
Mischelle Simcox, Johnson County Schools
Lyle Ailshie, Kingsport City Schools
James McIntyre, Knox County Schools
Sherry Darnell, Lake County Schools
Shawn Kimble, Lauderdale County Schools
Bill Heath, Lawrence County Schools
Scott Benson, Lebanon Special District
Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City Schools
Susan Bunch, Lexington City Schools
Wanda Shelton, Lincoln County Schools
Jason Vance, Loudon County Schools
Mark Griffith, Marion County Schools
Mike Winstead, Maryville City Schools
Edward (Eddie) Hickman, Maury County
Schools
Lynn Watkins, McKenzie Special District
Mickey Blevins, McMinn County Schools
John Prince, McNairy County Schools
Don Roberts, Meigs County Schools
Jesse Register, Metropolitan Nashville Public
Schools
Mary Reel, Milan Special School District
Tim Blankenship, Monroe County Schools
Chad Moorehead, Moore County Schools
Edd Diden, Morgan County Schools
Linda Arms Gilbert, Murfreesboro City
Schools
Steve Thompson, Newport City Schools
Bruce Borchers, Oak Ridge City Schools
Russ Davis, Obion County Schools
Ann Sexton, Oneida Special School District
Mike Brown, Paris Special School District
Eric Lomax, Perry County Schools
Diane Elder, Pickett County Schools
Jerry Boyd, Putnam County Schools
Jerry Levengood, Rhea County Schools
Cindy Blevins, Richard City Special District

Gary Aytes, Roane County Schools
Mike Davis, Robertson County Schools
Rebecca C. Isaacs, Rogersville City Schools
Don Odom, Rutherford County Schools
Bill Hall, Scott County Schools
Johnny G. Cordell, Sequatchie County
Schools
Jack A. (Jackie) Parton, Sevier County Schools
Dorsey Hopson, Shelby Unified County
Schools
Tony Tucker, South Carroll Special District
Jubal Yennie, Sullivan County Schools
Beth Litz, Sweetwater City Schools

Sandra Harper, Trenton Special School
District
Clint Satterfield, Trousdale County Schools
Denise H. Brown, Unicoi County Schools
Jimmy Carter, Union County Schools
Cheryl Cole, Van Buren County Schools
John R. (Bobby) Cox, Warren County Schools
Ron Dykes, Washington County Schools
Gailand Grinder, Wayne County Schools
Randy Frazier, Weakley County Schools
Eric D. Williams, West Carroll Special District
Sandra Crouch,White County Schools
Donna Wright, Wilson County Schools

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Heyburn Named to Lead State Board of Ed

From a News Release:

The Tennessee State Board of Education announced Friday morning that Sara Heyburn will become the board’s executive director upon the retirement of current executive director Gary Nixon.

Nixon, set to retire at the end of this year, was recognized at Friday’s board meeting for his decades of service to Tennessee students.

“Dr. Nixon provided excellent leadership over the last decade, and we believe that Dr. Heyburn is the right person to follow in his footsteps,” Fielding Rolston, chairman of the state board, said. “The board was impressed with Dr. Heyburn’s leadership in key areas over the past years. We also have been impressed with her ability to build consensus among different education groups and her willingness to meet with and listen to all stakeholders.”

Heyburn has served as the assistant commissioner for teachers and leaders at the Tennessee Department of Education since 2011, where she leads the state’s efforts related to increasing teacher and leader effectiveness. Prior to that, she served as an education policy adviser for the state and also worked for Vanderbilt University as a policy analyst at the National Center on Performance Incentives. Heyburn holds a B.A. in English and a master’s degree in teaching, both from the University of Virginia, and she earned an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2010. She began her work in education as a high school English teacher in Jefferson County Schools in Kentucky and Williamson County Schools in Tennessee.

“I am humbled by the board’s decision,” Heyburn said.  “It is an honor to work on critical issues affecting Tennessee children, and I will work diligently to ensure that the board continues to pursue student-centered policies.”

Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), added, “Dr. Heyburn has always been very easy to work with and open to the ideas that TOSS brings to the table. I look forward to many opportunities to collaborate with her and the state board as we continue to improve the academic experience for all of Tennessee students.”

Heyburn will assume the role early next year.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

The Education Agenda

What’s the best way to move Tennessee schools forward? It seems lots of people have opinions about this.  And some organized groups (teachers, superintendents, parents) are familiar faces around the General Assembly as education legislation is discussed, debated, and voted on.

Here, I attempt to break down the education agenda according to various groups attempting to influence the debate at the General Assembly this session.

Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET)

This group of teachers is the smaller of the two organizations in the state representing teachers (the other being the Tennessee Education Association).

We’ve written about PET’s 2014 agenda before.

Essentially, they are focusing on teacher licensure (and the use of TVAAS to determine continuation), protection of student and teacher data, and testing.

Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE)

We reported last week on the launch of this new group. They appear to stand in opposition to much of the current reform agenda in Nashville (state charter authorizer, vouchers, etc.). They also support full funding of BEP 2.0.

Tennessee Education Association (TEA)

TEA is the state’s oldest and largest association of teachers.  The TEA has historically opposed the expansion of charter schools and the use of public dollars for private schools (vouchers). They have a fairly wide-ranging legislative agenda. Additionally, they are currently undertaking a “road trip” to expose flaws in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).

Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA)

As its name implies, this group represents school boards across the state.  Though a few systems are not members, most in Tennessee are.  Here’s their complete agenda.  The organization opposes vouchers and opposes revoking a teacher’s license based solely on TVAAS data.

Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS)

The statewide organization representing school superintendents.  Their full legislative agenda can be found here. TOSS opposes vouchers, a statewide charter authorizer, and the revocation of a teacher’s license based on TVAAS data.

Statewide Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)

SCORE is headed-up by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.  The organization is comprised of many education stakeholders and aims to provide information to policymakers as they make decisions that impact schools.  They have been supportive of the new teacher evaluation model and are the leading organization in Tennessee in support of the Common Core State Standards.  More on SCORE here.

Stand for Children

This organization has been active in Tennessee since 1999.  For the sake of full disclosure, I worked for Stand in TN from 2007-2009. The organization made its mark in Tennessee advocating for expanded access to Pre-K.  According to a recent email from new Executive Director Betty Anderson, the organization plans to focus this year’s legislative efforts on maintaining the Common Core State Standards.  They are also supportive of expanded access to Pre-K and to improvements to the BEP.

StudentsFirst

This is the Tennessee affiliate of Michelle Rhee’s nationwide StudentsFirst organization. Here’s the group’s official issue agenda.  They have been supportive of vouchers, a statewide charter authorizer, and teacher merit pay.

Tennessee Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

The Tennessee PTA is comprised of parents organized at the local school level. While these groups typically support their specific school, the PTA also supports schools and students in the community and state. Their complete legislative agenda can be found here. The PTA includes in its agenda support for the inclusion of parent and student feedback in teacher evaluation and the use of “strategic compensation” for teachers.  They also support the Coordinated School Health program and changes to the BEP that would provide funding for additional nurses. The PTA opposes vouchers.

School Choice Now

This group is a joint project of the Tennessee Federation for Children and the Beacon Center of TN.  Their focus is on a statewide school voucher program, which they call “opportunity scholarships.”

Those are the major groups I’m aware of attempting to influence education policy in Tennessee. There are likely others.  But this is a starting point to understanding what’s going on at the Legislative Plaza regarding education policy and who is pushing for what policies.

For more on Tennessee education politics and policy, follow us @TNEdReport