Press Release from the State of Tennessee, March 28, 2019:

Link: https://www.tn.gov/workforce/general-resources/news/2019/3/28/unemployment-rates-drop-in-every-county-across-tennessee.html

NASHVILLE– The unemployment rate for each of Tennessee’s counties improved in February according to new information released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).

Eighty of Tennessee’s 95 counties have an unemployment rate less than 5 percent, a marked improvement from January’s jobless numbers.

“It is encouraging when unemployment rates drop in every county across the state,” said TDLWD Commissioner Jeff McCord.

Williamson County leads the state with the lowest unemployment in February. The county’s 2.2 percent rate is 0.2 of a percentage point lower than the previous month.

Both Davidson and Rutherford counties have the second lowest unemployment rates at 2.3 percent. That marks a 0.3 of a percentage point drop for Davidson County, while Rutherford County is down 0.4 percent of a percentage point when compared to January.

With a rate of 5.9 percent, Lake County has the state’s highest rate of unemployment for February. The latest statistic represents a decrease of 3.4 percentage points from the previous month’s rate.

Hancock County recorded the second highest unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, which is a 1.5 percentage point drop from its January rate.

“It is heartening to see unemployment rates in some of Tennessee’s rural counties rebound from last month,” McCord said. “We will continue to align our efforts with the state’s rural counties to support economic growth.”

Tennessee’s seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate reached an all-time low of 3.2 percent in February. That figure bested the previous record low of 3.3 percent, which was the state’s unemployment rate between October and January.

Nationally, unemployment dropped to 3.8 percent, a 0.2 of a percentage point decrease from January’s revised rate of 4 percent.

A complete analysis of Tennessee’s county unemployment data for February 2019 can be found here.

Tennesseans searching for new or better employment opportunities can access more than 150,000 current job openings, as well as other job search tools on the state’s workforce development website, Jobs4TN.gov.

The state of Tennessee will release statewide unemployment data for March 2019, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. CT.

In wake of the blockbuster news that Robert Mueller’s two-year collusion investigation turned up no proof that Donald Trump illegally coordinated or improperly communicated with the Russian government during the 2016 election, a pair of Republican Tennessee congressional lawmakers took the opportunity to take a swipe at one of Congress’s most visible and vocal proselytizers of the conspiracy theory.

Freshmen Reps. Mark Green of Clarksville and Tim Burchett of Knoxville collaborated this week on a video lampoon jeering California Rep. Adam Schiff, an unremitting and unapologetic Trump-Russia collusion-monger.

D.C.-based political website TheHill.com picked up the social media send up:

In a video posted by Rep. Mark Green, the congressman and fellow Tennessee GOP Rep. Tim Burchett pretended to unveil an exclusive copy of the “Schiff report,” or the evidence that Schiff has asserted exists to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. “I got the Schiff report!” Burchett, dressed in a brown overcoat, tells a grinning Green in the video before handing over a manilla envelope marked as such.

“Holy cow, he’s got the Schiff report,” Green exclaims in response. “There’s gotta be proof of collusion, evidence in here, right?”

The two then open the envelope, revealing it to be empty.

House Republicans have been calling this week for Schiff to step down from his post as chairman of the chamber’s intelligence committee.

“The findings of the special counsel conclusively refute your past and present assertions and have exposed you as having abused your position to knowingly promote false information, having damaged the integrity of this Committee, and undermined faith in U.S. government institutions,” the nine Republican members of Schiff’s committee wrote to him in a letter delivered March 24.

They concluded, “we have no faith in your ability to discharge your duties in a manner consistent with your constitutional responsibility and urge your immediate resignation as chairman of this committee.”

Schiff maintains he’s done nothing discreditable, and that when Mueller’s full report is made public it will substantiate accusations of wrongdoing against Trump and his family.

Democrats hold a 13-9 majority on the House Intelligence Committee.

The Republican letter calling on Chairman Schiff to step down followed a notice to Congress from U.S. Attorney General William Barr declaring that Mueller’s “special counsel investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.”

Press Release from the Office of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-TN-05, March 28, 2019:

Link: https://cooper.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cooper-slams-state-voter-registration-bill

WASHINGTON U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) blasted a bill that advanced in the Tennessee General Assembly yesterday, which would restrict the ability of civic, religious, and campus groups to help Tennesseans register to vote.

HB1079/SB0971, sponsored by State Representative Tim Rudd and State Senator Ed Jackson, would require individuals and organizations that are attempting to register 100 or more people to vote to adhere to new guidelines.

The House version passed the Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee yesterday and will move on to the Local Committee next week. The Senate version is expected to be heard in the State and Local Government Committee next week as well.

“As a state that has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, we shouldn’t make voter registration more complicated. If paper forms are too difficult, we should offer more digital options, such as same-day registration and automatic voter registration. Or we should fix our confusing forms,” Rep. Cooper said.

The bill would subject people involved in voter registration drives to civil or criminal penalties up to $10,000 if they are out of compliance with new voter registration requirements, including a deadline by which applications must be submitted and required training through the coordinator of elections.

“More training is good, but what if the training is only offered in certain areas of the state and only on limited days?”

Cooper also criticized conflicting voter registration information that can be confusing to voters, and the lack of training of some election officials.

Cooper noted that punishing people who are trying to help Tennesseans do their civic duty is terrible policy, and Tennessee would be the only state in the nation to subject individuals to civil and criminal penalties.

“It’s like a new poll tax. How many jelly beans are in the jar? We have seen this movie before. This is a blatant attempt to suppress the vote further in Tennessee.”

Press Release from United States Rep. John Rose, R-TN06, March 26, 2019:

Link: https://johnrose.house.gov/media/press-releases/rose-reaffirms-president-s-authority-build-wall

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Rose voted again today to support President Trump’s efforts to build a wall. Rose’s support of the President’s authority came as he voted against House Democrats’ efforts to override the President’s veto of a bill intended to block the President’s emergency declaration to secure the border.

“In order to protect the funding for the border wall that President Trump secured by declaring a national emergency at our southern border, I voted against Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest attempt to terminate President Trump’s ability to declare such an emergency. I support the President’s authority to declare a national emergency to resolve the crisis at our nation’s border. This emergency declaration is fully within the President’s lawful powers, and I stand with the people of Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District in our shared desire to fully secure our border.”

The President, following recommendations by national security officials, requested $5.7 billion to secure our southern border. Democrats refused to meet the President’s funding requests, allocating only $1.3 billion. Following this, the President declared a national emergency on February 15 invoking powers granted to the President under federal statute.

The House Democratic Majority responded by bringing legislation to the House Floor on February 26 to terminate the President’s emergency declaration, which Congressman Rose voted against. The bill passed the House over Congressman Rose’s opposition and then passed the Senate, but was vetoed by President Trump on March 15.

Today, Congressman Rose’s vote against Speaker Pelosi’s failed attempt to override the President’s veto (requiring a two-thirds majority vote) reaffirmed his support for President Trump and the emergency funding for a wall to secure our southern border.

Congressman John Rose represents Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District and resides in Cookeville with his wife, Chelsea, and their son, Guy. The Sixth District includes Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, White, and Wilson counties as well as portions of Cheatham and Van Buren counties.

Press Release from the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association, March 26, 2019:

Cookeville, TN – The Upper Cumberland Wine Trail wineries will hold their 2019 Upper Cumberland Wine Festival on April 13, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm at the Pioneer Village in Historic Granville.

The UC Wine Trail wineries come together only once or twice a year for a tasting festival. Wines will be available for purchase during the event. Wine Festival tickets are $15 available in advance on line www.uppercumberlandwinetrail.com. This year we added special group tickets for 5+ at $12 per person. Day of the festival the tickets are $20 per person at the gate.

Until Friday, April 12 close of business, advance tickets are also available at Sutton Store, Cellar 53, DelMonaco, Northfield and Chestnut Hill wineries. Photo ID required for entry – no exceptions. Tickets are non-refundable. Event will take place, rain or shine. No coolers or outside food/drinks allowed.

The festival ticket will include a souvenir wine glass and coupon for 10% off purchases at Sutton General Store, Granville Gifts, and Granville Antiques & Gifts.

The Upper Cumberland Wine Trail wineries at the festival include Brush Creek’s Cellar 53, Crossville’s Chestnut Hill, Baxter’s DelMonaco, Jamestown’s Highland Manor, Livingston’s Holly Ridge, Sparta’s Northfield Vineyards, and Cookeville’s new Paris Winery.

This is a day the whole family can enjoy. To participate in the wine tasting you must be 21 years or older. Visit the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail’s website uppercumberlandwinetrail.com or Face Book site for updates.

The festival will coincide with the launch of Historic Granville’s 2019 Summer Season, presenting special exhibits at the Homestead and Museum with the 1960’s Mayberry Decade. Granville’s Genealogy Festival will feature the Carver and Fox families.

Guests will have the opportunity to step back into time as they stroll through Historic Granville to visit the Antique Car Show, Sutton Homestead, General Store and Granville Museum. Several gift & antiques stores will be open for some shopping. Granville is nestled on the banks of the Cumberland River. This peaceful sleepy town comes alive for the yearly festivals. It’s a perfect day to dress in 60’s attire with your friends, or plan a group ride to Granville, group discounts are available for the Wine Fest.

Plan now to stay for dinner and a show as a special Blue Grass Dinner Show featuring the Bilbrey’s is scheduled at the Sutton General Store. This dinner will offer attendees their famous family style southern cooking. Dinner is served at 5 p.m. The 11th Anniversary of Sutton Ole Time Music Hour & Radio show begins at 6 p.m. Make reservations soon at 931-653-4151 as this will be a sold out show.

For more information about the festival, go to www.uppercumberlandwinetrail.com or https://www.facebook.com/UpperCumberlandWineTrail. For more information about Historic Granville, go to http://www.granvilletn.com.

Stiffer fines, more jail time soon likely for illegally flying remote controlled aircraft over ‘critical infrastructure’

A measure that will significantly increase the penalty for flying drones in off-limits airspace has passed both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Senate Bill 306 cleared the House of Representatives last week on a 95-1 vote. It passed the Senate 30-0 on Feb. 25. The bill now awaits a signature from Republican Gov. Bill Lee.

The legislation is sponsored by a pair of East Tennessee Republicans — Sen. Jon Lundberg of Bristol and Rep. Bud Hulsey of Kingsport.

Hulsey said SB306 “enhances the penalty for flying a drone over critical infrastructure from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class E felony.”

A Class C misdemeanor carries a possible 30-day sentence and a $50 fine. Conviction of a Class E felony may result in a 1-6 year prison sentence and up to a $3,0000 fine.

Under current Tennessee law, a person who “knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft within 250 feet of the perimeter of any critical infrastructure facility for the purpose of conducting surveillance of, gathering evidence or collecting information about, or photographically or electronically recording critical infrastructure data” is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor, a legislative background analysis of the proposed measure reported.

According to Tennessee’s Administrative Office of the Courts, no one has ever actually been convicted of flying a drone in restricted airspace under the state’s existing law.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Mike Bell remarked during a February committee hearing that, because the Class C misdemeanor penalty is relatively insubstantial, it has “not been worth it to the sheriffs or the DAs to prosecute.”

Sen. Lundberg said he decided to propose a punishment increase after hearing complaints about unauthorized drones “from a number of industries across the state.”

“The reason for the change is, candididly, there is a proliferation obviously of drones.” Lundberg told the Judiciary Committee.

“With that proliferation, we need more of an impediment for folks who are flying these over critical infrastructure,” he said. “A Class C misdemeanor does not provide that.”

Man fished out of lake after landing in troubled waters

A Williamson County angler got himself and his boat into what could have become a life-ending predicament on Center Hill Lake this week were it not for quick and competent action by marina workers in the vicinity.

Smithville radio station WJLE reported that the fisherman got too close to the moving water near the dam gates on Friday and lost control of his boat.

According to WJLE:

The current pulled his boat up against one of the spill gates causing it to turn up on its side in the water. The man, who was not wearing a life jacket, fell into the lake but he was able to grab onto the boat and managed to pull himself up and stand on the side of the vessel with it partly submerged until help arrived.

A passing boater spotted him and went nearby to the marina at Edgar Evins State Park to get help. Workers from the boat dock boarded a pontoon boat and rescued the man. He was brought back to the marina uninjured.

WJLE reported that the boat was salvaged and towed to the marina with assistance from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers.

Center Hill Lake, Dale Hollow, Percy Priest and Lake Cumberland in Kentucky have for nearly a month been discharging vast quantities of water in wake of record February rainfall in the region, making for deceptive and dangerous currents near dam release gates.

“It will take several months to reduce these lake levels to more seasonal levels,” Anthony Rodino, a Nashville-based Army Corps of Engineers water management specialist, predicted at the beginning of March.

A new study from the state comptroller’s office reveals a pervasive connection between underperforming teachers and lower-than-optimal student test scores.

Tennessee’s Office of Research and Education Accountability released a report this week seeking to assess the negative impacts that underachieving teachers may have on student performance and academic success.

The report determined that students’ performance demonstrably suffers when they’re taught by a subpar-rated teacher for two consecutive years.

Graphic Source: Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (March 2019)

A press release from the office of Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, who oversees OREA, indicated that the study’s results show that students who endure “ineffective teachers” for consecutive years “were less likely than their peers to be proficient or advanced on the state’s assessments.”

“Student achievement also suffered with the largest effects found for the highest and lowest performing students,” the press release stated. “These results are consistent with other research indicating that ineffective teachers have negative academic impacts on students.”

OREA’s research into the issue — which was conducted at the request of Tennessee Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville — showed that between 2013 and 2015 more than 8,000 students in Tennessee were taught in consecutive years by teachers with low evaluation scores in math or English or both.

Students in need of special education efforts or enrolled in “high poverty” school were much more likely to receive instruction from underperforming teachers, the report found.

The OREA report suggests that altering education policy in Tennessee to ensure an “increase equitable access to effective teachers for all students” is something for the Legislature to consider. The report also recommends that policymakers contemplate establishing provisions to ensure students are not assigned to classrooms run by ineffective teachers in consecutive years, and that the Tennessee Department of Education be required to track the problem and report back to lawmakers on it annually.

Executive Order from President Donald J. Trump:

Link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-improving-free-inquiry-transparency-accountability-colleges-universities/

Executive Order on Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities

Issued on: March 21, 2019

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Purpose. The purpose of this order is to enhance the quality of postsecondary education by making it more affordable, more transparent, and more accountable. Institutions of higher education (institutions) should be accountable both for student outcomes and for student life on campus.

In particular, my Administration seeks to promote free and open debate on college and university campuses. Free inquiry is an essential feature of our Nation’s democracy, and it promotes learning, scientific discovery, and economic prosperity. We must encourage institutions to appropriately account for this bedrock principle in their administration of student life and to avoid creating environments that stifle competing perspectives, thereby potentially impeding beneficial research and undermining learning.

The financial burden of higher education on students and their families is also a national problem that needs immediate attention. Over the past 30 years, college tuition and fees have grown at more than twice the rate of the Consumer Price Index. Rising student loan debt, coupled with low repayment rates, threatens the financial health of both individuals and families as well as of Federal student loan programs. In addition, too many programs of study fail to prepare students for success in today’s job market.

The Federal Government can take meaningful steps to address these problems. Selecting an institution and course of study are important decisions for prospective students and significantly affect long-term earnings. Institutions should be transparent about the average earnings and loan repayment rates of former students who received Federal student aid. Additionally, the Federal Government should make this information readily accessible to the public and to prospective students and their families, in particular.

This order will promote greater access to critical information regarding the prices and outcomes of postsecondary education, thereby furthering the goals of the National Council for the American Worker established by Executive Order 13845 of July 19, 2018 (Establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker). Increased information disclosure will help ensure that individuals make educational choices suited to their needs, interests, and circumstances. Access to this information will also increase institutional accountability and encourage institutions to take into account likely future earnings when establishing the cost of their educational programs.

Sec. 2. Policy. It is the policy of the Federal Government to:

(a) encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions;

(b) help students (including workers seeking additional training) and their families understand, through better data and career counseling, that not all institutions, degrees, or fields of study provide similar returns on their investment, and consider that their educational decisions should account for the opportunity cost of enrolling in a program;

(c) align the incentives of institutions with those of students and taxpayers to ensure that institutions share the financial risk associated with Federal student loan programs;

(d) help borrowers avoid defaulting on their Federal student loans by educating them about risks, repayment obligations, and repayment options; and

(e) supplement efforts by States and institutions by disseminating information to assist students in completing their degrees faster and at lower cost.

Sec. 3. Improving Free Inquiry on Campus. (a) To advance the policy described in subsection 2(a) of this order, the heads of covered agencies shall, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, take appropriate steps, in a manner consistent with applicable law, including the First Amendment, to ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.

(b) “Covered agencies” for purposes of this section are the Departments of Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, and Education; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Science Foundation; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

(c) “Federal research or education grants” for purposes of this section include all funding provided by a covered agency directly to an institution but do not include funding associated with Federal student aid programs that cover tuition, fees, or stipends.

Sec. 4. Improving Transparency and Accountability on Campus. (a) To advance the policy described in subsections 2(b)-(e) of this order, the Secretary of Education (Secretary) shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law:

(i) make available, by January 1, 2020, through the Office of Federal Student Aid, a secure and confidential website and mobile application that informs Federal student loan borrowers of how much they owe, how much their monthly payment will be when they enter repayment, available repayment options, how long each repayment option will take, and how to enroll in the repayment option that best serves their needs;

(ii) expand and update annually the College Scorecard, or any successor, with the following program-level data for each certificate, degree, graduate, and professional program, for former students who received Federal student aid:

(A) estimated median earnings;

(B) median Stafford loan debt;

(C) median Graduate PLUS loan debt (if applicable);

(D) median Parent PLUS loan debt; and

(E) student loan default rate and repayment rate; and

(iii) expand and update annually the College Scorecard, or any successor, with the following institution-level data, providing the aggregate for all certificate, degree, graduate, and professional programs, for former students who received Federal student aid:

(A) student loan default rate and repayment rate;

(B) Graduate PLUS default rate and repayment rate; and

(C) Parent PLUS default rate and repayment rate.

(b) For the purpose of implementing subsection (a)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of the Treasury shall, upon the request of the Secretary, provide in a timely manner appropriate statistical studies and compilations regarding program-level earnings, consistent with section 6108(b) of title 26, United States Code, other applicable laws, and available data regarding programs attended by former students who received Federal student aid.

Sec. 5. Reporting Requirements. (a) By January 1, 2020, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, a report identifying and analyzing policy options for sharing the risk associated with Federal student loan debt among the Federal Government, institutions, and other entities.
(b) By January 1, 2020, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, policy recommendations for reforming the collections process for Federal student loans in default.

(c) Beginning July 1, 2019, the Secretary shall provide an annual update on the Secretary’s progress in implementing the policies set forth in subsections 2(b)-(e) of this order to the National Council for the American Worker at meetings of the Council.

(d) Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary shall compile information about successful State and institutional efforts to promote students’ timely and affordable completion of a postsecondary program of study. Based on that information, the Secretary shall publish a compilation of research results that addresses:

(i) how some States and institutions have better facilitated successful transfer of credits and degree completion by transfer students;

(ii) how States and institutions can increase access to dual enrollment programs; and

(iii) other strategies for increasing student success, especially among students at high risk of not completing a postsecondary program of study.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 21, 2019.

Press Release from the Office of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, March 21, 2019:

Praise for education savings accounts, charter schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s charter school bill passed in both the Tennessee General Assembly House and Senate education committees just one day after Gov. Lee’s education savings account proposal advanced from the House curriculum subcommittee.

“With the legislature’s hard work, school choice has momentum and we are working together to put students first and strengthen our public education system,” said Lee. “Low-income students deserve the same opportunities and we have a bold plan that levels the playing field while also focusing improvement on the lowest-performing school districts.”

Parents, legislators, educators and advocates from across the state praised Gov. Lee’s efforts to focus on students and expand educational opportunity.

Support for Gov. Lee’s School Choice Agenda:

“Gov. Lee’s full education agenda is exceptional for students in Memphis and across our state. By investing $71 million in teacher pay raises and an additional $5 million into improving student and teacher support in our priority schools, he is making clear he is willing to do whatever it takes for Tennessee’s students. While I’ve always been against vouchers, Governor Lee’s comprehensive approach to giving more freedom and flexibility to students and families through Education Savings Accounts and further investment in our schools is the bold and innovative reform our state needs to ensure every child has access to a quality education.” – Cato Johnson, former Chairman of Tennessee Higher Education Commission and former member of the State Board of Education, Shelby County

“I support Gov. Lee’s bold plan to introduce a better way to educate children in Tennessee. As a mother and grandmother, I believed that we must create a better way especially for minority children. Charter schools and ESAs will continue to open doors for students that have been marginalized by educational opportunities.” – Latonya Bell, concerned Nashville parent

“As a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and native Tennessean, I know firsthand the power of education, and the tremendous impact it has on generations of Tennesseans. I believe we can not only rebuild a stronger foundation for our youth by creating new pathways for education, such as utilizing educational savings accounts; we can deliver innovative regional solutions that meet the specific needs of students and parents across all of Tennessee. By supporting the ESA program, we can provide an essential piece to the puzzle and empower parents to provide customized solutions for their children’s future.” – Tessa Eades, concerned Nashville parent and advocate

“I am grateful for Gov. Lee’s efforts to provide alternatives for students who might otherwise be denied an opportunity for a great education. As Senate Majority Leader, I am the proud and enthusiastic sponsor of this important legislation.” – Sen. Jack Johnson, Senate Majority Leader, District 23

“I fully support the governor’s initiatives on expanding educational opportunities for children and look forward to our continued collaboration going forward.” – Rep. William Lamberth, House Majority Leader, District 44

“Having been on the education committee for seven years, I appreciate that Gov. Lee is focused on ensuring Tennessee’s education system is serving every student in our state. His bold agenda supporting students, teachers, families, and education leaders will help Tennessee lead the nation with a strong educated workforce and a stronger economy.” – Rep. Mark White, House Education Committee Chair, District 83

“I’m excited that the opportunity for families to have a choice in securing the best education for their child is moving forward.” – Rep. Bill Dunn, District 16

“I applaud Gov. Lee’s bold education agenda to invest in our state’s students, teachers and families. From pay raises for teachers, support for rural school leaders, investment in CTE and STEM, more choice for families with accountable charter schools and education savings accounts, Gov. Lee is spurring innovation so that all our schools improve in preparing every student for the jobs of tomorrow.” – Marlon King, educator, leader and parent

“I have a really hard time telling parents that their money shouldn’t be used for their students, their children. I have a hard time explaining to them why they have to continue to leave their child in a school that has been failing for the past 30 years.” – Rhonda Thurman, Hamilton County School Board Member

“I support any move Gov. Lee can make toward giving more parents more choices in the educational process for their children. Parents have had too few choices for too long. We need significant change for there to be significant progress in results for our children across our state. I fully support Gov. Lee’s Tennessee Education Savings Accounts.” – Dan Chord, Board Member of Independent School in Bradley County

“Tennessee students are so lucky that Gov. Lee is taking a ‘by any means necessary’ approach to ensuring that all children will have access to great schools. His charter school authorization legislation will accelerate the creation of highly effective schools across the state, just as our charter school program has done in Nashville. And for those students still without excellent options, Education Savings Accounts will empower our most economically disadvantaged families with the means to secure good schooling for their children, just as more affluent parents already do. Both proposals make it clear that Gov. Lee is applying as much concern for the state’s children as he has for his own children and grandchildren. We can’t ask for more than that.” – David Fox, Former Chairman of Metro Nashville Public Schools

“According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s report card, only 35.8 percent are college ready. That number is cut in half when you look at black, Hispanic and Native American students and students who are economically disadvantaged. Gov. Lee’s approach in using ESAs will reach those regardless of zip code.” – Tommy Vallejos, community activist and pastor, Clarksville

“This charter school proposal by Gov. Lee would take the politics out of the process and put the focus back on kids. We have seen our local district deny applications for charter schools we believe would work for our students. The bottom line is we need more great schools.” – Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of The Memphis Lift

“As educators, we should be driven by what is best for students. The ESA bill is 100% student-centered. It allows parents the choice to help their children get a better education at a school that is the best fit for their child.” – Sean Corcoran, Head of School at Brainerd Baptist School in Chattanooga

“Giving parents greater access to additional quality options for their child’s education is always beneficial. Making education savings accounts a reality for families in Memphis and across the State would be a good thing. We must do everything we can to help all students succeed.” – Tom Marino, Executive Director at Poplar Foundation

“At the Tennessee Charter School Center, we believe that establishing a high quality independent statewide appellate authorizer, founded on best practices, will ensure that decisions to open charter schools in Tennessee are based on what is best for students, not politics.” – Maya Bugg, CEO of Tennessee Charter School Center

“Tennessee’s public charter schools are spurring innovation that is helping to drive greater achievement and success for thousands of Tennessee students. Gov. Lee’s initiative that would create the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission would help expand great public school options that have proven to be effective for students and continue the fast student achievement growth we have seen since 2011.” – David Mansouri, President & CEO, SCORE