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Tennessee Department of Education:

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    School districts in Tennessee can now apply for Innovative School Model Grants that focus on job training for students. “Through reimagining the middle or high school experience, students will have a variety of opportunities to gain real-world experience, explore various industries and available jobs, and choose a pathway best suited to their skillset,” said Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I thank Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly who passed this historic opportunity, all districts interested in applying for this funding, and those who helped us celebrate throughout the month.” The state plans to give out $500 million in grants to schools that apply and are accepted into the program, which was piloted last year. “In May 2021, the department awarded 21 school district Innovative High School Model grants, which included an initial investment of $30 million to foster local community partnerships that boost student readiness,” according to a TDOE release. These partnerships have already shown an incredible impact on students’ experiences and readiness for the workforce and postsecondary opportunities. Innovative School Models are meant to prepare Tennessee’s students to...
    The Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) is seeking public comment by August 2 on rules that govern Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) funding for kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) public schools. In a tweet amplifying a previous request for public input, TNDOE said, “Informed by input from a variety of stakeholders, all Tennesseans are encouraged to submit public comment on the proposed rules on the TISA public school funding formula by 8/2.” Comments should be e-mailed to [email protected] or mailed to the following address: Tennessee Department of Education, Andrew Johnson Tower, 9th Floor 710 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN  37243 ATTN: TISA Rules The draft rules can be found on the TDOE website. “Thanks to thousands of Tennesseans being involved in the public funding review engagement process and the dedication of Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, our districts, schools, educators, and most importantly, students, now have an updated public school funding formula that will meet each of their needs,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. “We hope all Tennesseans will remain engaged and submit comments on the proposed rules as we prepare...
    The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) released new resources on the “Grow Your Own” educator initiative on Tuesday. New resources released include a new webpage, one-sheets, and videos to support anyone interested in participating in an initiative. “Tennessee was the first state in the country to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs between school districts and Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs), and Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship model aligns leading practices in teacher preparation and development with the rigors of the nationally registered apprenticeship process,” TDOE said in a statement. “As a part of the department’s Best for All strategic plan, the Grow Your Own initiative aims to provide all Tennessee students with access to a high-quality education and an effective teacher to support learning in every classroom,” continued the statement. “Tennessee’s Grow Your Own work is a game-changer – and a lasting one, for educators, students, and our nation,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This investment in quality of programming will pay off for years and ultimately ensure a permanent, sustainable source of effective teachers that our students need and deserve. We hope this...
    The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced its Accelerating TN 2022 Tour, a statewide bus tour that will cover 50 school districts over the course of three weeks to highlight summer learning opportunities for students. TDOE said department members, elected officials, and other education partners will have the opportunity to join the various events to learn more about how schools are “accelerating student achievement.” Legislators passed the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act, General Assembly’s 2021 special legislative session, “which set forward a path for all districts’ current and future summer programming opportunities to benefit students and accelerate achievement.” This year, the General Assembly additionally passed the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) Act during this year’s legislative session. The TISA Act updates the way the Tennessee funds public education and, according to TDOE, “prioritizes the needs of each individual student.” TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn, as well as department staff, state and local elected officials, and other community partners will be visiting 50 of the state’s school districts this summer to connect directly with the public. On June...
    Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed TN-5 Republican candidate Beth Harwell to the newsmaker line to discuss her commitment, if elected, to a maximum 6-year term and slowly dismantling the Department of Education, bringing money back to local governments in the state. Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line with a new breaking story. Former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell. Good morning, Beth. Harwell: Good morning. Good to be with you all this morning. Leahy: So you have just released a statement that you have endorsed the U.S. term limits amendment and you pledge to serve if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, a maximum of three terms. Tell us about that. Harwell: Right. I served in the Tennessee Legislature, which is indeed a citizen legislature. It’s a part-time job. You can’t make a living serving in the state legislature, which means you have to find...
    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. “Tennesseans will have access to a livestream presentation that breaks down key aspects of the legislation and funding proposal,” according to the statement. “Details about the presentation will be announced next week.” Lee and Schwinn said that, for the first time in more than 30 years, the TISA will move to a student-based funding formula, including the following components: • Student-based funding starts with a base funding amount for every public-school student. • Additional funding may then be allocated based on weights to address individual student needs. • Direct funding is another opportunity for students to receive additional funding allocations to support specific programs, like tutoring. • Outcome incentives are awarded based on student achievement to empower schools to help all students reach their full potential. The local officials who lead public schools throughout Tennessee said in a...
                 The Tennessee Department of Education announced the approval of all 147 school districts on their required ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) plans. Through ESSER, the schools have more than $3.5 billion through federal COVID-19 relief funding to benefit K-12 public school students in their districts. Following the U.S. Department of Education guidelines, all districts were “required to develop plans that outlined their local spending strategies for their portion of the historic amount of federal funding.” “Tennessee’s education leaders recognize the opportunity and responsibility our state has with these historic funds to benefit Tennessee’s students,” said Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We’re incredibly proud of the hard work both districts and the department have committed to building smart, strategically aligned plans to ensure the greatest impact for students’ outcomes and the future of our state. The importance of community engagement, surveying local needs, and planning for the future were key components of this process, and we are committed to supporting the great work ahead for our schools and systems.” According to the statement, Tennessee received over 4.5 billion in...
                 Over 1,300 public comments from “hundreds of parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state” have been posted in response to a potential new school funding formula, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) said in a Wednesday statement. “Tennesseans recognize what a historic moment in time this is for education in our state, and I want to thank those who submitted public comments as part of our engagement process on a potential new funding formula for Tennessee’s public schools,” TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. She added, “As has been shared in subcommittee meetings, at town halls, on social media, and at local meetings, a new public education funding formula for Tennessee must be centered around our students so that we can ensure our children can thrive in the classroom and be successful after high school.” Earlier this month, the Department of Education released a draft of the new funding formula “informed by input of thousands of Tennesseans.” The new funding plan said it had to be “Strategic for all students (student-based;...
                 The Metro Nashville School District and the State Department of Education is set to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday night at 6:30pm. Parents, students, teachers, and community members are encouraged to share their thoughts on state education funding. The meeting is scheduled to last an hour. The town hall will take place at In the MNPS boardroom at 2601 Bransford Ave, with parking available at the Berry Road entrance. The announcement for the town hall on the MNPS website states: State education leaders will join MNPS Board of Education members for the town hall, which is part of Gov. Bill Lee’s review of the state funding formula for education. Community members are encouraged to share their thoughts on the funding needed for Tennessee public schools to ensure student success. Each speaker will have up to two minutes to share their thoughts focused on student funding. Community members will have the opportunity to sign up to speak while at the event. The funding town hall will also be streamed on the Metro Nashville Network. Gov. Lee and Commissioner...
              more   The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) has launched a dashboard aimed at transparency and information about the goings on in the state’s public school districts. “This interactive dashboard filters data from the Tennessee Department of Education’s Annual Statistical Report (ASR) to provide information about Tennessee public education at the state and district levels,” the state comptroller’s website says. The new dashboard allows users to filter by school district, and see metrics like annual teacher salary increases over time, percent change in average salary over time, and number of licensed personnel by school district over time. A second dashboard keeps track of demographics in each school district, including the race of the students by percentage, and what it calls “special populations” –  students with physical disabilities, financial hardships, and limited English proficiency. It also measures student enrollment, which is steadily increasing statewide. A third dashboard provides information on taxpayer funding for schools in each district. That dashboard shows that taxpayer funding for Tennessee’s schools has skyrocketed over the past decade. Still, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn has been on a whirlwind...
              more   After a new bill was signed into law prohibiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Tennessee Schools, an activist group’s complaint against the Williamson County Schools was tossed out by the head of the Tennessee Department of Education (DOE). A letter signed by Robin E. Steenman, Chairman of the Williamson County chapter of Moms for Liberty and addressed to DOE Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn accuses the school district of teaching the tenets of CRT to seven and eight-year-olds, in violation of the new law. Specifically, it cites texts, including “Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington,” by Frances Ruffin, “Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story,” by Ruby Bridges, “The Story of Ruby Bridges” by Robert Coles, and “Separate is Never Equal” by Duncan Tonatiuh. It also cites the teacher’s manuals that go along with those texts. “The classroom books and teacher manuals reveal both explicit and implicit Anti-American, Anti-White, and Anti-Mexican teaching,” the letter says. “Additionally, it implies to second grade children that people of color continue to be oppressed by an...
                        Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Laurie Cardoza-Moore from Proclaiming Justice to the Nations to the newsmaker line to weigh in on progressive new hire Rachael Maves and the implementation of a liberal K-12 curriculum in Tennessee. Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line now by our good friend Laurie Cardoza-Moore, head of the Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and also a member of the Tennessee Textbook and Instruction Materials Quality Commission. Laurie, you have a problem with a new hire at the Tennessee Department of Education. I’ve read about her, and I think you have a reason to have a problem with her. Cardoza-Moore: Absolutely. And thank you for having me back on the program. And Tennesseeans have a problem with this appointment. We just saw a nationwide referendum on Tuesday, and we’ve been involved in 90 school...
                        A member of Tennessee’s Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission Laurie Cardoza-Moore has sounded an alarm on a new Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) official and her reported advocacy of math equity. Math Equity is the concept that working to answer a question correctly constitutes racism and white supremacy. The TDOE official, Chief of Preparation and Performance Rachael Maves, said Wednesday, however, that she does not believe math is racist. Moore said in an emailed press release that members of the Tennessee General Assembly’s House and Senate Education Committees must investigate how and why TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn hired Maves. “Rachael Maves comes to Tennessee with a controversial history of being a key proponent of California’s racist ‘Math Framework’ overhaul, a concept that holds students back regardless of talent or ability in favor of ‘equity,’ rather than individual excellence,” Cardoza-Moore said. “The model stems from the belief that math is racist and perpetuates white privilege. Her philosophy of education reflects the tenets of Common Core Standards, as well...
                        A high-ranking official with the Tennessee Department of Education — who is new to the job and previously worked in California — has a resume that includes pushing for math equity. This, according to Breitbart.com. Math Equity is the concept that working to answer a question correctly constitutes racism and white supremacy. This woman, Rachael Maves, reportedly began working for the Tennessee Department of Education in September. Maves previously served as deputy superintendent for instruction and measurement for the California Department of Education. “During her time in California, Maves promoted that state’s controversial revision of its mathematics framework, one that seeks to train K-12 math teachers that ‘white supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,’” Breitbart reported. “The San Francisco Chronicle reported in May, Maves supported the California department’s recommendation to push Algebra 1 out of middle school and delay access to that course until high school, which would eliminate the tracking of students into accelerated math programs in middle school.” Officials within the State of Virginia government announced this year that they would...
                        HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee – The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday night to discuss a student-centered public school funding strategy. Of the estimated 65 people in attendance, the majority of the attendees that spoke – 22 in all – were either current or former teachers, along with a few parents. Commissioner Penny Schwinn spoke at the event and said that she was happy to see so many people and students at the meeting. “We want to make sure that everyone is heard. Whether you can come out here in person, whether you’re live streaming, whether you want to submit something on your phone,” Schwinn said. “This is really about a needs assessment. What do we want to be true for public education in this state?” Before the meeting began, a representative from the TDOE told the audience, “Conversations on this topic are not intended to replace the current BEP funding formula. The current BEP funding formula will remain in place until a new funding...
                        Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower this week released a report warning Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) officials to take additional steps to make sure they can recover assessment tests that students take online. But TDOE officials told The Tennessee Star on Tuesday that they have already addressed the Comptrollers’ concerns. “The delay in recovering test results was a problem noted several years ago using a different online testing platform,” said TDOE spokesman Brian Blackley, in an email to The Tennessee Star. “This is no longer a problem with the new testing platform, which we have now tested extensively and found no evidence this problem exists.” The Comptrollers’ audit said certain Tennessee school districts did not recover their students’ tests in a timely manner in the event of an outage. State officials have since hired a new vendor to oversee the process, but they have not yet tested the process to see if it works, the audit said. The current vendor currently conducts paper-based assessments, but they plan to return...
                        The Tennessee mask mandate opt-out for school children might violate federal laws, the Department of Education says. Governor Bill Lee (R) signed an executive order that allowed parents the right to opt their children out of mask mandates in schools. Executive Order 84, which was signed by Gov. Lee Monday, states, “a student’s parent or guardian shall have the right to opt out of any order or requirement for a student in kindergarten through twelfth-grade to wear a face covering at school, on a school bus, or at school functions.” The United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona wrote a letter to Gov. Lee and Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, saying that the executive order “may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by Federal law.” Cardona wrote that the executive order was an “action against science-based strategies” that would prevent the spread of COVID. “This State level action against...
                        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. ED Secretary Miguel Cardona said that this plan was satisfactory to the Biden Administration for the reopening and advancement of schools after the pandemic. Cardona added that the plan meshes with President Joe Biden’s goal of building back better, a reference to the president’s campaign slogan and sweeping $7 trillion plan. “I am excited to announce the approval of Tennessee’s plan,” said Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the way in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to...
                        Tennessee’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) is offering grants to educate Hamilton County immigrants in English literacy and civics. However, TDLWD confirmed with The Tennessee Star that it won’t be requiring proof of legal status for participation. TDLWD hasn’t required proof for nearly two years. The department explained that its Adult Education Division made the change to align with federal regulations concerning the program. The only requirements for immigrants who participate in the program are that they are over 16 years old, not enrolled in secondary school, and classified as an English language learner. Hamilton County drew significant attention over the last few months after it was discovered that the Biden Administration was driving and flying unaccompanied migrant children into Chattanooga. Several weeks ago, followup reports emerged that these children were potentially enduring abuse at their holding facilities. Around the same time, one teenage boy went missing from the Chattanooga facility. TDLWD published the request for proposal (RFP) for Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (IELCE) services on Friday, according to...
    Tennessee’s charter schools can apply for a share of $5 million in grant funds offered through the Tennessee Department of Education for support and expansion. The grants, dubbed the Charter School Support and Expansion grant, are funded by federal COVID-19 relief. The aim of the grant program is to expand the number of charter school seats available to students in Tennessee. "The Tennessee Department of Education is grateful to Gov. Bill Lee for making education funding for all schools a top priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said. Tennessee received $63.6 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funds in the first round of pandemic relief passed last spring. Lee allocated $10 million of the governor’s discretionary funds for charter schools. "Tennessee's charter sector provides many families across the state with the opportunity to make the best choice for their child’s education – an opportunity they would not otherwise have,” Lee said in a statement. The Department of Education has announced that every charter school would receive a per-pupil grant based on 2020...
              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. “[T]he reason Into Reading Tennessee did not pass the re-review process for third grade is because the process was flawed,” claimed the suit. HMH noted that TDOE suggested...
              U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) plan to introduce legislation to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Representatives for both congressmen said they will put the legislation forward, but they would not say precisely when. Massie spokesman John Kennedy told The Tennessee Star this week that he will introduce the legislation “later in the session.” But Burchett spokesman William Bensur, in an email this week, said Burchett and Massie plan to introduce the legislation “in the coming weeks.” Burchett, in an email of his own, said his background is in education. “Both my parents were career educators and I received an education degree from the University of Tennessee. And I can tell you not once has a D.C. bureaucrat taught one of our kids how to read,” Burchett said. “What works for educators in Los Angeles County doesn’t work for educators in Grainger County. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Money for the Department of Education should go to the states so they can decide what to do with...
              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. TDE Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced in a press release that TDE officials would give money to the network, which already, in part, accepts government funding. “In collaboration with Tennessee teachers and districts, the department created an at-home learning series with over 300 instructional classroom video lessons for first-through eighth-grade students airing across all six Tennessee PBS stations since the spring,” the press release said. TDE officials said in the press release that they obtained this $1 million from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) through the CARES Act. “This winter, families and students have had the opportunity to utilize the Winter Foundations Bootcamp, which focuses on literacy and math foundational skills for Pre-K through Second-grade students with additional content on science,” the press release said. “These lessons are airing on all six Tennessee PBS stations weekdays from 9 a.m.–11...
    Gov. Bill Lee's administration unveiled details of a $100 million literacy initiative Monday to provide optional reading resources and support to Tennessee students, teachers and school districts, with the goal of helping students to read on grade level by third grade. Before COVID-19 pandemic school closures last year, about 36% of third-graders in Tennessee could read on grade level. State officials estimated last fall Tennessee third-graders will experience 50% learning loss in reading proficiency because of pandemic-related school closures. Lee has called the Tennessee Legislature to a special session later this month to take up education issues, including literacy and learning loss, but the Tennessee Department of Education already is working to address the state’s literacy crisis. The new initiative, Reading 360, will provide an array of supports to districts, teachers and families, including opt-in training and coaching in literacy instruction for teachers, regional networks focused on literacy and an online platform for video lessons for teachers and families at home. The initiative also will fund more than 13,000 microgrants for literacy tutoring for students...
            by Vivian Jones  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. “This press release really caught a lot of us off guard,” Henry County Schools Superintendent Leah Watkins told The Center Square. “I feel like this was a smack in the face of my educators, of my team, who have given up summer break to have had to change everything they do to make it work for a dual environment – virtual and in person. It just feels like an affront to the work that my team does.” Schwinn did not give superintendents notice of the learning loss announcement on a regular conference call Wednesday morning before the...
    Under the leadership of Commissioner Penny Schwinn, Tennessee’s Department of Education and its affiliates have experienced turnover of one-third of its employees, department data shows. Since Schwinn took office as commissioner in February 2019, a total of 405 employees, or roughly 33 percent, have left the department. The vast majority of employees leaving the department have resigned – about two-thirds of the total number. Since last February, 116 employees have resigned from the department’s central office, 19 have retired and 26 were terminated. As of this month, 391 employees remain in the department’s central offices. A total of 244 employees left the departments' subsidiaries, including the Achievement School District, State Board of Education, the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative, School Support Services program and the Tennessee Early Intervention System. In the first nine months of Schwinn’s leadership, the turnover rate at the agency was about 18 percent, an increase from previous administrations, Chalkbeat reported last November. In the first nine months of his tenure, former Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman saw a turnover rate of 9.4 percent, and...
            by Vivian Jones  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. In response to concerns over the initiative’s application to all children in the state – birth to age 18 – the state repeatedly has claimed the guidance document did not accurately portray the intent of the program. The guidance “has nothing to do with children who are homeschooled or enrolled in independent schools,” an official statement sent to The Center Square by Gov. Bill Lee’s office and the Department of Education read. In a letter sent Aug. 14 to members of the General Assembly, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn wrote the...
              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: Schwinn mocked and ridiculed Gov. Bill Lee, her boss, at a staff meeting last year. Schwinn gave government records to a reporter that she knew contained false information. Schwinn lied to Lee to avoid appearing in public with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The Tennessee Star contacted Lee’s public information officers for comment about this story last Wednesday and hoped they would answer. By Tuesday of this week, no one in that office would respond. We also contacted Schwinn’s public information officers on the same day last week. They too chose not to speak with us. Two of the three sources said they witnessed Schwinn disparage Lee at a staff meeting last year. TDOE assistant commissioners and other higher-ups attended...
              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. The department earmarked $1 million in COVID-19 funds to set up regional overseers to work with districts, which are encouraged to apply. A grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will give funding for eight regional staff members to work across the state. In response, Ogles posted on his official Facebook page, “NO!!! I will NOT stand for this, neither as your Mayor nor as a Father!  … Governor Bill Lee initiating wellbeing checks for EVERY child in TN.” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in trying to sell the idea, said, “Since we know many children have experienced adversity due to the pandemic, child...
    Every public school district in Tennessee will be able to nominate at least one teacher to receive training in special education, the Tennessee Department of Education announced. Virtual training will be funded by a new $1 million grant awarded by DOE and will be provided at no additional cost to school districts. The training is paid for with discretionary funds from the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. “In Tipton County, we are grateful for the opportunity to have a local educator participate in this program, free of charge, and address a critical need of serving our special population students,” said Dr. John Combs, director of Tipton County Schools. Nearly 200 teachers will be able to take part in the virtual training. Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the training will help address special education vacancies. “This grant will help fill a need we have heard from districts across the state by ensuring more teachers can earn a special education certificate and help serve all students, particularly our most vulnerable populations, in the midst of the...
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