Image Credit: TN Dept of Education / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Over the last few weeks, Governor Bill Lee has signed a number of laws recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly regarding schools and education.
The focus of this new legislation ranged from using corporal punishment for students with disabilities to implementing additional safety measures in schools.
With educational issues such as the third-grade retention law and school vouchers being widely discussed recently, other bills have slipped through without as much notice. Below is a run-down of some legislation affecting education that may not be as well-known.
School safety has been a hot topic in recent weeks, and the legislature passed several laws dealing with an increase in safety measures in Tennessee’s schools.
House Bill 0322 – This bill serves as an amendment to the already established Schools Against Violence Act. The original act set up safety procedures at the school level; the new legislation provides additional resources to those teams. This was sponsored by Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44). Legislation was sponsored by Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin-District 27) in the Senate.
House Bill 0041 – This legislation from Representative Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga-District 28) addresses additional safety measures in the area of school sports. It mandates background checks for all coaches and also establishes a requirement that coaches receive safety training regarding concussions, cardiac arrest, and CPR. Legislation was sponsored by Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield-District 23) in the Senate.
House Bill 1456 – New laws in education were not established just for public schools. HB1456, sponsored by Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby-District 11) allows local law enforcement agencies to enter into a contract with private schools in order to provide them with school resource officers. Legislation was sponsored by Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains-District 8) in the Senate.
Senate Bill 0190 – Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol-District 4) sponsored this legislation that expands on current laws regarding zero tolerance offenses. Students will now be expelled for a minimum of one calendar year for threats of mass violence on school grounds or at school-related events. The law does allow superintendents to make exceptions on an individual basis. Legislation was sponsored by Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka-District 11) in the House.
Other legislation addresses the need for changes to funding and training for teachers.
House Bill 0432 – Under this legislation, the Tennessee Future Teacher Scholarship Act was created to provide money for future teachers in the state. $900,800 has been pledged by the state for each of the five years of the pilot program, sponsored by Representative Mark White (R-Memphis-District 83). Legislation was sponsored by Senator Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro-District 13) in the Senate.
House Bill 0158 – This legislation from Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville-District 14) prevents teachers from being forced to participate in implicit bias training and keeps schools and universities from being able to retaliate against teachers who choose not to complete such programs. Legislation was sponsored by Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-District 10) in the Senate.
House Bill 1232 – Representative Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville-District 59) sponsored this legislation to allow school districts to partner with accredited universities to provide a training school to allow future teachers to receive training in grades Pre-k through 12. Legislation was sponsored by Senator Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro-District 13) in the Senate.
In addition to the highly debated legislation surrounding literacy initiatives and third-grade retention, legislation also touched on the need for improved preschool programs to target students at an earlier age.
House Bill 1150 – This bill, also sponsored by Representative Mark White (R-Memphis-District 83), mandates that the Tennessee Department of Education analyze statewide needs in pre-k education and create a plan for improvement. A pilot program will also be created that will award five districts with grant money for high-quality preschool programming. Legislation was sponsored by Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin-District 18) in the Senate.
Additional legislation provides for additional supports for families with deaf or blind students and creates additional guidelines restricting the use of corporal punishment for students with disabilities.
Other new laws change paperwork requirements for homeschool students, add more financial literacy requirements for students, and provide more virtual learning options.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com