Tennessee would receive $64.3 million in federal funds – to be matched with $6.4 million in state dollars – to provide pre-kindergarten classes to another 7,861 children under President Obama’s “Preschool for All” program, according to a White House estimate released Wednesday.
A spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam says the governor will review the proposal, but is waiting for a Vanderbilt University study of pre-k effectiveness before making a final decision. The study, launched in 2009, will not complete its first stage until next year.
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, a leading critic of pre-k programs in the state Legislature, said Wednesday the state should ignore the federal offer. He also voiced skepticism about the Vanderbilt study.
Tennessee now has a voluntary pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch because of low-family income. It will provide $85 million in funding for the current year to fund 935 pre-k classes enrolling about 18,000 students statewide, according to state Department of Education figures.
Obama’s proposal calls for providing $75 billion nationwide over a 10-year period to expand pre-k enrollment with new funding to come from an increase in federal cigarette taxes.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposal that would create a special panel to authorize charter schools in several Tennessee counties passed a key legislative committee on Wednesday and is headed for a full House vote after the bill was amended to provide oversight of the entity.
The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark White of Memphis was approved on a voice vote in the House Finance Committee and will now be scheduled for a vote on the House floor.
The panel would oversee five of the state’s lowest-performing counties: Davidson, Hamilton, Hardeman, Knox and Shelby.
Charter schools are public schools that are funded with state and local tax dollars. But they don’t have to meet some of the state regulations that traditional public schools do as they try to find different ways to improve student learning.
Currently, local school boards decide whether to authorize a charter application. There are 48 charter schools in Tennessee.
President Obama may want to rid the federal government of TVA, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
The president’s fiscal 2014 budget request, released today, includes a section called “Reform TVA.” It describes in detail the Tennessee Valley Authority’s “impact to the federal deficit.”
“Reducing or eliminating the federal government’s role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives and no longer require federal participation, can help put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path,” reads the passage.
Mentioning TVA’s debt constraints, the administration appears poised to undertake a thorough review of the federally owned utility’s finances.
That includes “the possible divestiture of TVA, in part or as a whole,” according to the budget.
— Note: Sen. Lamar Alexander rushed out a news release on the subject. It’s below.
The White House on Sunday released a state-by=state listing of impact of the sequester. Here is the Tennessee press release, sent with the headline, “Impact of March 1st Cuts on Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security: Tennessee.” White House Press release
Unless Congress acts by March 1st, a series of automatic cuts–called the sequester–will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors,people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform. There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but the President believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies on. Already, the President has worked with Congress to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, but there’s more to do. ThePresident has put forward a balanced plan to not only avoid the harmful effects of the sequester but also to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion in total. The President’s plan meets Republicans more than halfway and includes twice as many spending cuts as it does tax revenue from the wealthy…..
Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe. By not asking the wealthy to pay a little more, Republicans are forcing our children, seniors, troops, military families and the entire middle class to bear the burden of deficit reduction. The President is determined to cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way, but he won’t stick the middle class with the bill. The President is willing to compromise, but on behalf the middle class he cannot accept a deal that undercuts their economic security. Our economy is continuing to strengthen but we cannot afford a self-inflicted wound fromnWashington. Republicans should compromise and meet the President in the middle. We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable, cuts-only approach, Tennessee risks paying the price. TENNESSEE IMPACTS
If sequestration were to take effect, some examples of the impacts on Tennessee this year alone are:
A bill to create a state charter authorizer has been delayed, reports WPLN, and the sponsor now says he’s listening to critics, who say the legislation unfairly singles out Nashville and Memphis. As written, the bill would give privately run, publicly financed schools a way to open in Tennessee’s two largest urban areas without asking the school board – officially known as the local education authority or LEA.
Rep. Mark White is the sponsor and says he could be on-board with a true statewide charter authorizer if local school boards do the initial vetting.
“If we go back to the LEAs – letting them have first input on this – this will be a statewide application.”
At that point, there would be little difference in a statewide authorizer and the current appeals process. White says he just wants to reinforce that the state has the final say-so. Opponents packed a committee hearing in which the bill was ultimately put off.
Metro school board member Amy Frogge calls it a state power grab. She says opponents like herself will return.
“We’re going to be here for every hearing that comes up, so I don’t think it’s a question of waiting until we’re gone.”
In addition to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag, an official “Salute to the Tennessee flag” is now part of the state Senate’s opening ceremony at the start of a day’s meeting.
The first recitation came Thursday in compliance with a Senate Rules Committee proposal adopted earlier by the full Senate.
Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, the Legislature’s senior member, had proposed the recitation and led colleagues on the first occasion. The salute goes like this: “Three white stars on a field of blue
God keep them strong and ever true.
It is with pride and love that we
Salute the flag of Tennessee.”
During a committee meeting, Henry acknowledged that some senators were not familiar with the salute yet. He quoted Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, jokingly suggesting a variation: “Three starts upon a field of blue. I don’t know the rest and neither do you.”
A bill allowing charter school applicants to apply directly to the state passed its first hurdle in Nashville Tuesday, potentially setting up a way for Memphis suburbs to have charter schools outside the control of the Unified Shelby County School Board, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The bill would allow charter school operators in Shelby and Davidson counties freedom to apply to the state to approve their charter applications instead of the local school board. The caveat is that if the state denied the application, there would be no appeal.
Under the current protocol, charter applicants that are denied by the school board may appeal the decision to the state Board of Education. The charter schools would report to the state Board of Education, and their test scores would be separate from the local school districts.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark White, R-Germantown, passed 6-3 in the House Education subcommittee. The bill has no fiscal note; it now goes to the full House for further discussion.
See also The Tennessean and Andrea Zelinski’s report, HERE.
Roane County native Nancy-Ann DeParle, who helped craft President Barack Obama’s health-reform law, has left the White House, reports Michael Collins. A White House spokesman confirmed that DeParle had departed this week from her position as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff.
The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, announced recently DeParle will join the organization as a guest scholar in economic studies. Shealso plans to lecture at Harvard Law School.
DeParle, who grew up in Roane County, was hired as director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform shortly after Obama took office in 2009. Often called the president’s health reform “czar,” she helped write the administration’s sweeping health reform law. Obama considered her input so pivotal he hailed her as one of the “unsung heroes” of his health reform team.
DeParle was promoted in January 2011 to assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff.A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she previously worked in the White House budget office under former President Bill Clinton and was involved in the administration’s attempt at health-care reform in the early 1990s.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
The Tennessee legal community is mourning the loss today of Chancellor Billy Joe White, who died November 20, 2012 after a short illness.
“Chancellor Billy Joe White served the state in the great tradition of country judges – full of common sense, wise counsel and fair dealing. While his many friends among the bench and bar mourn his loss, we also cherish our memories of this good man. The prayers of the entire judiciary go out to the family and the people of his district,” said Chief Justice Gary R. Wade.
Chancellor White was on the bench for 35 years. He was chancellor in the 8th Judicial District, which serves Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott and Union counties. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Virginia Abernathy, an 80-year-old retired Vanderbilt professor, is the focus of a Tennessean story on her role as “an emerging leader of the white supremacist movement.”
Abernethy appears on the Tennessee ballot as running mate to Gatlinburg-area filmmaker Merlin Miller, who is running for president of the United States. They are listed as independent candidates on the Tennesee ballot, but represent the American Third Position Party, or A3P.. The whites-only political party was formed “to represent the interests of White Americans,” according to its website. It has run a handful of candidates for offices as varied as the Mesa, Ariz., City Council and the New Hampshire governor’s office. Republicans in New Hampshire called A3P the party of “despicable racists.”
Abernethy calls all the attention misguided but amusing.
“I think it’s hilarious,” said Abernethy, speaking from the corner office on the Vanderbilt campus that is hers for life as a professor emerita of anthropology and psychiatry. “I’m 104 pounds exactly. I’m punching above my weight, to hear the SPLC tell it.”
She politely would like to set the record straight.
She is not a white supremacist, Abernethy said.
She’s an environmentalist and a scientist. She opposes most immigration. She’s a feminist who helped put an end to Vanderbilt professors calling female medical students “girls.” She’s a Christian and a European-American.
She is also, she said, an “ethnic separatist.”
“Separatism says, ‘Birds of a feather flock together,'” Abernethy said. “I say, ‘Let them.’ What I see is rampant racial discrimination against European-Americans. And I am not in favor of discrimination.
“I see African-American groups and Asian-American groups and I feel that we should respect our identity as European-Americans as well.
“I do not see anything whatever wrong with that.”