Tennessee Promise approval a landmark decision
May 25, 2014 | 966 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Editor’s Note: State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, and state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, have submitted a comprehensive recap of actions taken by the Tennessee House of Representatives during the recently completed second half of the 108th General Assembly. It is being published as a five-part series in the Sunday editions of the Cleveland Daily Banner. Today’s installment is Part 3.)

Legislation proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam earlier this year to ensure every student in the state can attend two years of community college or a college of applied technology absolutely free passed the full House of Representatives with bipartisan support from state lawmakers.

Passage of the proposal makes Tennessee the first state in the entire nation to offer such a program.

Following two years of free schooling, if a student then chooses to go on to a four-year school, the state's transfer pathways program makes it possible for that student to start as a junior. By getting their first two years free, the cost of a four-year degree is cut in half.

In addition, the cost of the Tennessee Promise program itself will be paid for through a strategic transfer from the lottery reserve fund into an endowment fund with absolutely no cost to the state or taxpayers.

The plan also alters the current $4,000 per year Hope scholarship college students are currently eligible to receive, changing the total to $3,500 for each of the freshman and sophomore years of college, and increasing the amount to $4,500 during the junior and senior years. The result will still be a total of $16,000 in Hope grants over four years, with proponents agreeing the change will better incentivize students to retain good grades in order to continue receiving the newly established higher scholarship award amount.

Legislation aiding teacher

licenses wins unanimous

support by House members

Legislation stating a teacher’s license cannot be revoked based on student test scores passed the full House of Representatives with unanimous support from state lawmakers.

The bill was filed in response to a decision by the Tennessee State Board of Education that fundamentally changed the rules of teacher licensure procedures in Tennessee.

Recently, the state board eliminated teacher licenses based on college degrees and professional training, using instead a statistical estimate of student test scores known as the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System.

Since being approved, the change has been met with fierce opposition from teachers, parents and school administrators from across the state.

As noted by proponents of the legislation, TVAAS scores can and often do change years after students have left teachers’ classrooms, additionally citing that scores can fluctuate wildly for certain grades and subjects. The reason for the deep quirks is because TVAAS is not an absolute score, but a statistical estimate with a standard error built right in.

House lawmakers score

major victory with U.S.

history legislation

Landmark legislation designed to ensure Tennessee schools are teaching students American history and the nation’s heritage as recorded through our country’s historical documents passed overwhelmingly after being debated on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The bill requires that American history, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other historical American documents be taught in Tennessee public schools. In addition, the bill requires the Department of Education to report the progress of the legislation’s implementation back to the state Legislature on a yearly basis.

The legislation ensures Tennessee students learn about our country’s origins and the amazing sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers in creating the world we live in today. The bill spells out that students will be taught about the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, as well as the nation’s achievements that have contributed to making our state and country the greatest in the world.

The full text of the legislation can be found by visiting:


House of Representatives

passes Cursive Writing Bill

Earlier this year, House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a measure calling for children in schools across Tennessee to learn the ability to read and write in cursive.

House Bill 1697, which was approved 85-6, would add handwriting instruction to the state learning standards.

The bill is meant to prevent a decline in the ability of students to read handwritten notes and sign their own names, as well as interpret historical documents in their original form, like the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.

The motivation for the legislation came after parents complained to state lawmakers that their children were unable to read handwritten assignments. Upon further investigation, it was also found that a significant percentage of high school juniors and seniors could not read cursive writing assignments written by teachers on classroom chalkboards.

Tennessee is one of at least six states with lawmakers urging the teaching of cursive. Five other states — North Carolina, California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Virginia — already have laws in place to make sure students learn to read and write using cursive in school.

Pro-Military Bill passes

House unanimously

A pro-military bill backed by lawmakers from across the state passed the House of Representatives with unanimous support from both parties.

The bill, aimed at helping Tennessee students who enlist in the military while still in school, now awaits a signature from Gov. Bill Haslam before officially becoming law.

The legislation specifies that if a high school student enlists in the United States military or National Guard program and completes basic training before graduation, that student is eligible to receive school credit toward graduation. The credit may be used to meet the state’s physical education and wellness requirement plus credit for another elective course, or used for credit in two elective courses of the student’s choosing.

The goal of the legislation is to reward those hardworking young patriots who have completed basic training in our nation’s military while still in high school.

The bill passed the House, 98-0.

Veterans academic support

bill wins state approval

Legislation allowing veterans who relocate to the state after military service to receive in-state tuition rates at Tennessee higher education institutions garnered full support from House members this year as the bill passed the full legislative body.

The Veterans Education Transition Support Act encourages enrollment of veterans at Tennessee public colleges and removes many of the burdensome hurdles associated with veterans reentering the academic world after serving in our nation’s military.

Currently, discharged veterans who choose to relocate back to Tennessee after service must pay out-of-state tuition rates until residency is formally established. Under the VETS legislation, veterans enrolling within 24 months of discharge immediately receive Tennessee’s in-state college tuition rate.

The Act also creates a “VETS Campus” designation to recognize and promote schools that make veteran enrollment a priority. Higher education institutions that satisfy veteran-friendly criteria, such as specialized orientation and the availability of mentoring programs, can receive the designation.