Tag Archives: issues

‘Parent Trigger’ Bill Joins Vouchers, Etc., in Push for Education Legislation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Legislation that would allow parents to decide the fate of a struggling school is among several education-related proposals lawmakers are likely to discuss during the 108th Tennessee General Assembly that convenes Tuesday.
Officials have made reforming education a top priority since Tennessee became one of two states to first receive federal Race to the Top funding about three years ago. Lawmakers expect to take up more proposals this year, including so-called parent trigger legislation, creation of school vouchers, reshaping online schools and boosting community colleges.
The parent trigger measure has drawn national attention since parents in California stepped in to turn around a failing school there and the state’s Supreme Court upheld their actions.
Brent Easley, state director for the Tennessee chapter of StudentsFirst, a national grassroots movement to reform school systems across the country, said a sponsor is being sought to introduce Tennessee legislation that’s similar to California’s proposal. (Note: StudentsFirst’s PAC made about $427,000 in donations to Tennessee campaigns last year, by the Commercial Appeal’s count.)
Under the proposal, if 51 percent of parents at a school in the bottom 20 percent of failing schools believe that a drastic change is needed, they can then select from several “turnaround models.” For instance, they may want to convert it to a charter school, change the administrators or just close the school.

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On House District 59: Jones vs. Duvall (or women’s issues vs. jobs?)

Rep. Sherry Jones, a Democrat, has made women’s and children’s issues the centerpiece of her 18 years in the legislature, reports The Tennessean in a review of the House District 59 contest..
Her opponent, Robert Duvall, the Metro councilman and Republican nominee for the race, said he is focused on bringing jobs and retail back to the district — and he is characteristically blunt about making his priorities clear, even in a year in which the “gender gap” has been an obsession of political analysts nationwide.
“What is more important right now? Women’s issues or putting people back to work?” said Duvall, who has been a councilman since 2006.
And that, as much as anything, explains the clear contrast in priorities between the candidates running to represent State House District 59.
“My number one priority has been children, healthcare and abuse issues,” Jones said. “Nobody else is as deeply invested in this issue.” The politicians are running to represent a somewhat economically depressed district in southeast Davidson County, including much of Antioch.

Poll Finds Obama-Romeny in Tight TN Race (if you count people who don’t vote)

President Barack Obama has pulled into a virtual tie with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in traditionally conservative Tennessee, according to a new Vanderbilt University pol..
The poll also found that Tennesseans weren’t thrilled with the Republican-led General Assembly’s frequent focus on social, cultural and religious issues this year. But Republican Gov. Bill Haslam managed to remain above the fray, winning approval from 61 percent of poll participants.
“Tennessee is clearly a red state,” said John Geer, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt. “But these data show that the public is much more moderate than our state legislature.”
The poll of 1,002 Tennessee residents who are 18 and older found 42 percent would vote for Romney and 41 percent for Obama if the election were held now….Geer cautioned that the registered voters among the poll participants favored Romney by a larger margin, with 47 percent saying they would vote for the former Massachusetts governor and 40 percent for Obama. He said that’s a more likely outcome in November.
“It’s not that close a race,” Geer said, predicting Romney would prevail with little trouble. “I suspect a lot of hard-core conservatives are still getting used to the idea of Romney as the nominee, and by the time the general election comes along, they’ll be in lock step with Romney. But right now there’s a small chunk that are still being cautious.”
Three of every four poll participants said they were registered to vote.
…Just 15 percent said lawmakers “spent the appropriate amount of time addressing social, cultural or religious issues” during this year’s session, and 22 percent said they didn’t spend enough time on them. A larger number, 42 percent, said lawmakers spent too much time on such matters.
…Just 22 percent of the people surveyed said it was more important to protect the rights of handgun owners to carry their weapons into any commercial establishment than it was to protect the rights of business owners to set their own rules. More than 7 in 10 said the opposite.

GOP Pushing Social Issues to Back Burner?

Social issues are taking a back seat in the state legislature this year, as Republican moderates have so far kept issues such as guns, abortion and states’ rights from overshadowing their program on education and business matters, observes Chas Sisk.
GOP leaders, especially those in the state House, have avoided controversies over nullification of federal laws and President Barack Obama’s birth certificate this session, quietly voting down bills that deal with those topics in subcommittees. Meanwhile, Republicans have moved to cast many of their most controversial positions on social issues, such as the teaching of evolution and gay rights, as economic or education issues.
Republicans say they have not intentionally tried to avoid social issues. But three months into the session, activists from across the political spectrum say the strategy is becoming apparent, and with time winding down, the odds of hot-button issues rising to the top of the agenda are dwindling.