Friday, February 09, 2007

Education legislation

The state legislature is making some progress toward making information more accessible to mere citizens. They've still got a ways to go before catching up with some other states but I'm thankful for forward progress. I'd like to see the companion bills listed together. I'd also like to see an e-mail subscription service that would automatically e-mail a citizen when a bill is filed (or action is scheduled or taken) that is on their 'watch' list.

For our purposes here bills filled that touch on education issues can be scanned from this web page. It sure beats the heck out of reading through the summaries of some 1500 bills filed each of the last several years. This format will make it much easier for moms and dads to scan and discover where they may want to impact the system. The more eyes that look at these and discuss the back stories and connections the better off we'll all be. So when you've got a few minutes and a warm cup of your favorite beverage scroll through these. Also be mindful that the summaries may not be completely accurate and you may want to actually review the legislation.

Scanning this page it looks like BEP is going to be a hot topic and this bill from Rep. Mike Turner (D- Nashville) catches my eye:

*HB0052 by *Turner M.

Education - Deletes provisions for value added testing and performance education. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 1.

The Abstract summarizes *HB0052 as introduced.

I consider Value Added information essential to knowing how well public education is doing. Tennessee had a healthy jump on the NCLB requirements because we had value added already up and running. What we need is access to more of the Value Added information, specifically teacher scores, not less. And this from a man who wanted homeschoolers to be tested.

And elected superintendents of schools, a perennial favorite is back again:

*SB0589 by *Burks. (HB0661 by *Hill, *Ford.)

Education - Permits election of director of schools and outlines specifications. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 2, Part 3 and Section 49-2-203.

HB0948 by *Winningham. (*SB0578 by *Burks.)

Local Education Agency - Permits election of director of schools and outlines qualifications. - Amends TCA Section 49-2-203 and Title 49, Chapter 2, Part 3.

This is a curious one:

*SB0198 by *Harper.

Local Education Agency - Authorizes legislative body of Davidson County to appoint a certified teacher as a non-voting member of the Davidson County school board. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 2, Part 2.

It's not like Jayme Merrit, MNEA President, hasn't already put the school board on notice that she wants three minutes to speak at every BOE meeting, or that there haven't been enough 'former' educators on the Board already. If the Metro Council wants to appoint someone to be their eyes and ears at the BOE they are free to do so outside of the state legislation. And what's the purpose of making sure it's a certified teacher?

And I'm wondering why partnering with the local police department is insufficient:

*SB1451 by *Tate.

Education - Requires department of education to study allowing LEAs to create school district police departments. - Amends TCA Title 49.

And here the LEA gets to skim money off the top of a charter school's budget:

*SB1447 by *Tate.

Local Education Agency - Authorizes the LEA to retain, as an administrative fee, 5 percent of the state and local education funds that otherwise would be allocated to a charter school for processing information required by the state department of education with respect to such school, including reporting student enrollment data, teacher certification data, insurance and retirement data, and budgetary information. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 13, Part 1.

and more on charters:

*SB1865 by *Johnson.

Schools, Private and Charter - Removes the prohibitions on converting a cyber-based school to a public charter school and on creating a cyber-based public charter school. - Amends TCA Section 49-13-106.

This has to happen. We're very far behind this education innovation in other states. I know that one homeschooling organization is going to be afraid that this will 'lure' homeschoolers back to public education and is concerned that parents may not understand that their children will be 'public schoolers' and not homeschoolers but we need to focus on the needs of children. It's past time for Tennessee to offer this. They are certainly cheaper to operate than a brick and mortar school and provide some alternatives that can benefit many families and their children. This could be a legitimate alternative for some of our students expelled as a result of zero tolerance for starters.

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