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Few voucher opportunities in Memphis, researcher says

A small number of private schools in Memphis are willing to accept students with school vouchers, and those that are don't have many extra seats, says an education researcher at Vanderbilt. WPLN has the story.

Apr 7, 2014 12:00 PM

The end is near

The AP with the story of the legislature aiming for the end.

Apr 7, 2014 10:51 AM

Beer and a burger

Tennessee requires bars to sell food...for now.

Apr 7, 2014 7:08 AM

The latest on ballot access

Minor parties are trying to get the signature requirement lowered for ballot access. So far? Not so good:

Senate Bill 1091 would have slashed the number of signatures minor parties need to be recognized from about 40,000 to just 2,500. Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle filed the bill after a series of lawsuits by minor parties and argued it was time to settle the matter.

But Republican members of the committee balked, effectively bottling up the legislation in committee. That means Libertarians probably will have to run as "independents" again this fall.

But last month a Nashville judge ruled in a suit by the Green and Constitution parties that the state's signature was too high. Unless that ruling is overturned, they'll have a spot in November. State officials plan to appeal.



Apr 7, 2014 7:07 AM

Dems try to shake Clayton

He's not first on the ballot alphabetically this time around, so they shouldn't have anything to worry about, but the Tennessee Democratic Party is working to have Mark Clayton removed from the Senate primary ballot anyway.


Apr 7, 2014 7:03 AM

Should Nashville Democrats get excited?

Get jazzed says Steven Hale:

For a party desperate for any signs that it has a future in Tennessee, the list of young, new faces who have entered the fray might bring some optimism.

On the Senate side, Mary Mancini and Jeff Yarbro (either of which will give Democrats some sign of life in the ever-reddening Senate — are facing off to replace Sen. Doug Henry. Yesterday, we learned that former TNDP spokesman Brandon Puttbrese has qualified to challenge Democratic Sen. Thelma Harper in District 19. Defeating one of your own doesn't gain you any votes in the legislature, but Democrats have been chit chatting about challenging Harper for a while now.

On the House side, it's a little trickier. Along with the aforementioned challenges to Mitchell, Jernigan, and Powell, there's no doubt that losing Rep. Mike Turner is a blow. At the same time, the prospect of an open seat brought out a long list of potential Democratic candidates that could give the party some hope even if most of them opted out of running this time around. Three of them have qualified to run for Turner's seat in District 51 — attorney Bill Beck, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition executive director Stephen Fotopulos, and former TNDP executive director Jennifer Buck Wallace.

In District 55, attorney John Ray Clemmons has qualified to challenge Gary Odom in the Democratic primary.

Apr 4, 2014 11:15 AM

Who's in

Some familiar names are on the ballot(s) in the Senate and gubernatorial primaries. Mark Clayton, Coonrippy, Basil Marceaux. The gang's all here.

Apr 4, 2014 6:53 AM

Bivins gets a promotion

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeff Bivins wins Gov. Bill Haslam's appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Apr 3, 2014 4:41 PM

House leadership to beef up mild anti-Common Core bill

The details are still up in the air, but House Speaker Beth Harwell said she wants to weave any changes to the new statewide student exam into their administration-approved Common Core bill.

The move would give leadership more control over what a possible rollback of the exam would look like given rancor from rank-and-file members who teamed up with Democrats last month to hijack a bill to delay further implementation of Common Core education standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers for two years.

The Haslam administration has consistently said they are unwilling to budge on Common Core and believe its associated PARCC test is the best aligned with the state’s new standards teachers have been using in the classroom. The uprising went against both the administration’s and speakers’ wishes by digging deeper into the new standards and new test to be used in 2015 than they were willing to go.

“I think what we need to be examining now as a body is the testing,” she told reporters Thursday. “When I talk to most teachers and most concerned constituents, they’re worried about the PARCC testing and I think we have an opportunity now to address that.”

Harwell said members of her chamber are meeting with the administration now to understand what they can do and what the costs are. Harwell said her plan is to put any changes to PARCC into HB1549, a bill that currently builds in transparency for how student data can be used and reiterates that the state sets its own education standards, not the federal government.

Any PARCC changes would be added in conference committee, she said, a meeting between select members from both chambers to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Members of the committee can insert changes not in either bill to reach a compromise, but both chambers still need to approve identical versions of the bill for it to pass.

Apr 3, 2014 2:56 PM

Harwell kills for-profit charter bill

House Calendar and Rules, following urging from the speaker, killed the for-profit charter bill today. Said Harwell: "We still are in our infancy in public charters in this state."

The speaker [...] quoted a letter from Nashville Mayor Karl Dean which highlighted successful non-profit charter management groups are already on the scene in the education reform community and said “there is no need to open up our charter market to entities with a profit motive.”

Apr 3, 2014 11:27 AM