Here are highlights from the past week of the Special Session of the Tennessee State Senate. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about matters being considered by the General Assembly. You can also get information about the General Assembly, including the text of bills and floor and committee calendars, by accessing the legislative web site at www.capitol.tn.gov. Please bear in mind this update is principally related to actions of the State Senate.
The Tennessee General Assembly returned to Capitol Hill this week in Special Session to consider bold initiatives designed to transform education and place the state in position to be a top competitor to receive up to $485 million in federal funds. The legislation, entitled the Tennessee First to the Top Act of 2010, is the result of the collaborative efforts of lawmakers, governor, and numerous education stakeholders, including an education reform panel headed by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist.
The governor called the Special Session after recognizing Tennessee has an opportunity to receive a large portion of the $4.3 billion federal “Race to the Top” dollars if the General Assembly acted promptly with certain education reforms. Although legislators are concerned about utilization of stimulus funds, most see the Race to the Top competition as a catalyst for passage of education reform proposals that have been discussed for several years.
Race to the Top is authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and is a competitive grant program to encourage and reward states which are implementing significant reforms in four education areas: enhancing standards and assessments; improving the collection and use of data; increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution; and, turning around struggling schools.
These goals are also in line with recommendations from the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), headed by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. First and a group of key public officials and education and business leaders from across the state held numerous public meetings last year seeking real, meaningful improvements in Tennessee’s education system. Their work has served as a compass for the General Assembly to understand the substantive changes needed to boost student achievement. Seven of the panel’s key recommendations were included in the innovative legislation passed by Tennessee lawmakers, making up a large portion of the bill.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.