With state-level elective offices firmly in its control, the state Republican Party is now ready to move on to local-level offices with a new “Red to the Roots” program, says Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney.
The idea is to encourage county Republican parties to designate nominees for city and county elective offices where they can. Currently, most cities and counties have nonpartisan elections for local office, though state law generally allows county parties to designate party nominees if they wish — exceptions including cases in which a city or county charter specifies bipartisan elections.
“We’ve had a lot of success with our state-level candidates,” Devaney said, referring to the GOP supermajority in the Legislature and Republicans holding the governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats and seven of nine U.S. House seats. “Now, we’re ready to look at the local offices — county mayors, sheriffs and maybe a few judgeships.”
“These are places where Democrats still have a hold,” he said. “It’s their bench” for candidates who could in the future seek a state-level office. With local-level partisan campaigns he said, “We can build our bench.”
Tennessee spends tens of millions of dollars on professional development for its 63,000 public school teachers but has little idea if it makes a difference or even exactly what it costs, according to the Commercial Appeal. The state budgeted $148.2 million of its $500 million in Race to the Top funds for teacher training, $2,352 per teacher over four years. Researchers say there is not enough data to show the effect on student learning or to even evaluate the content, according to a legislative brief from the state Offices of Research and Education Accountability in the Comptroller’s office.
One of the biggest issues is that more than half of the money — $80 million — is managed by local districts for their own training programs.
“It’s very difficult to determine what is going to professional development and other programs,” said Rebecca Wright, a legislative research analyst who wrote the 14-page report.
“These are local-level issues. Unless you get it at the local level, you aren’t going to find a lot of information,” she said.
The report offers no recommendations. It is the second briefing this year from OREA on professional development for teachers. The first described laws and policies and how the training was structured before Race to the Top.
Tennessee Right To Life’s political action committee gave incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley a 100 percent grade on its 2012 scorecard but did not endorse him in his 2nd House District re-election bid. Further from Hank Hayes:
TRL’s PAC, the pro-life group’s political action arm, endorsed no one in the Aug. 2 Republican primary race between GOP challenger Ben Mallicote and Shipley, R-Kingsport.
In an e-mail, TRL President Brian Harris said the lack of an endorsement should not be interpreted as opposing Shipley’s re-election but simply a position of neutrality.
Harris explained by pointing out a strategic priority for Planned Parenthood nationally has been mainstreaming the practice of dispensing RU-486 pills via telemedicine.
“Planned Parenthood’s intent is to make chemical abortions more available, especially in ‘underserved’ rural communities,” Harris said.
Last year, Shipley introduced a House resolution promoting the use of telemedicine in Tennessee. TRL, said Harris, expressed “profound concern” at the possibility Planned Parenthood would seize the opportunity to expand the prescription of RU-486 in rural areas of Tennessee.
Tennessee Right to Life, the state’s largest organization devoted to opposing abortion, endorses mostly incumbents and mostly Republicans in a list of candidates for the state Legislature that was released recently.
The list includes only two Democrats – Reps. Charles Curtiss of Sparta and John Mark Windle of Livingston. Neither has an opponent in the primary, but both will have Republican opponents in November. (Full list HERE)
There is no endorsement of any candidate opposing a sitting Republican legislator, though more than a score of incumbent Republicans face opposition in the Aug. 2 primary. There are endorsements in GOP primaries for seats where there is no Republican.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is meeting most of its goals for implementing educational reforms tied to a $500 million federal Race to the Top award, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education.
It found the state’s major challenge during the 2010-2011 school year was a delay in hiring management and support staff for several key programs.
At least in part, that was because of turnover that occurred with the election of Gov. Bill Haslam and his appointment of new education commissioner Kevin Huffman.
“Although the new Governor collaborated with (Tennessee Department of Education) staff prior to taking office, and both he and his new Commissioner are committed to education reform, the transition to new leadership was not seamless,” the report states.
News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE — Nine school districts and two nonprofit organizations today were awarded a total of $686,820 in Race to the Top funds by the Tennessee College Access and Success Network in its inaugural grant competition.
The network aims to establish a college-going culture in communities across the state by removing barriers to higher education, promoting college persistence, and increasing postsecondary completion rates for all Tennesseans. Driven by this mission, the network held its first grant competition to create new and expand existing college access and success programs. Schools and nonprofit organizations applied for three different grant opportunities: Seed Grant, Model Program Grant, and Catalyst Grant. The network received 66 grant applications from across the state, and the nine winning project proposals will serve more than 11,300 students and families across the state. School systems and nonprofits have proposed projects such as offering students ACT tutoring, taking them on college visits and paying for their college application fees.
County government leaders have decided not to contract with the local Planned Parenthood organization to provide family planning services for low-income people, reports the Commercial Appeal. Instead, Christ Community Health Services has been chosen for the $397,900 contract, Shelby County Health Department director Yvonne Madlock confirmed Tuesday.
“The bid was awarded, and it was not Planned Parenthood,” Madlock said, adding that this ends any local contracts with that organization.
The contract must still be approved by the County Commission. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell hopes to have it before that board by the end of September.
Tennessee Right to Life, not surprisingly, has hailed this development via news release. It’s below