Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s been learning from both sides about a so-called “ag gag bill” since it was passed by the Legislature two weeks ago, but it hasn’t reached his desk yet and he hasn’t decided whether or not a veto is in order.
The bill has generated thousands of emails, telephone calls and letters to the governor’s office – more than on any legislation that has come up during Haslam’s term as governor – and most have been calling for a veto, a gubernatorial spokesman says.
The Humane Society of the United States has organized a campaign against the bill, including TV ads urging people to contact Haslam and urge a veto. Celebrities including TV host Ellen DeGeneres and country music singer Carrie Underwood have also pushed a veto.
Haslam said he would not simply “tally results” before making his decision.
“Obviously, we value everyone’s opinion. But we’re trying to go beyond that and find the argument,” he said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Open your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer.
Five states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.
The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year or both.
A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state’s existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools.
Having signed a deal with Union County schools to operate an online education program, K12 Inc. is now soliciting parents across the state to sign up for the program, the Commercial Appeal reports. Several of the parents who attended K12 meetings in Memphis and Nashville said they homeschool their children.
That will amount to at least $5,387 in state tax dollars for every student enrolled in the program, according to the state Department of Education. A legislative fiscal analysis concluded there is no way to determine how many students would enroll.
For (Memphis parent Denita) Alhammadi, the last straw was when Memphis school leaders classified her son as having attention deficit hyperactive disorder.
“My son is an advanced learner. Of course he’s going to be bored if he finishes way ahead of everyone else and has to just sit there,” she said.
She was among about 40 parents who showed up at the Orange Mound Community Center for the K12 meeting. Most stayed the entire two hours, learning about the boxes and boxes of taxpayer-funded books and supplies that will be delivered to their homes – including computers and high-speed Internet access for those who qualify – and the ways in which they can take charge of their children’s learning.
“We have principals and teachers on the ground,” said Heidi Higgins, K12’s sales rep in Tennessee. “We will provide the lessons, all the books, materials and supplies you can ever imagine.
Higgins emphasized that parents who “can turn on a computer and open up a browser” should have no trouble.
And, she said, “We are not going to penalize a child for being swift” and buzzing through a lesson. Conversely, a child who needs to slow down, she said, will be right at home with K12.
“Of course, you have already paid for this. This is a visible sign of your tax dollars at work,” she said.
…Wayne Goforth, director of the Union County school system, isn’t surprised at the interest. “I can tell you, from the figures I have seen, that there is very, very big need in (the) state of Tennessee for this program.
“I can see it appealing to people who have done homeschooling. I can see it being interesting to people paying a lot for private school and for families who, for some reason, are not wanting to send their child to the public schools in their community.”
As the fiscal agent, Union County is responsible for administering the details, including overseeing special education services.
If other districts are upset that they may be losing enrollment and state funding to Union County, Goforth is not sympathetic.