Education | Nashville Public Radio


It's graduation season for Middle Tennessee's colleges and universities, with special traditions at each one. Over the past few years, it's become a custom for Belmont University president Bob Fisher to deliver the commencement address.

He keeps it short and, in a nod to Belmont's music program and his own love of music, Fisher constructs it almost entirely out of song titles and lyrics.

Here's the speech from last year:

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Nashville’s public schools have a record number of National Merit Scholars this year with four students receiving the distinction and its $2,500 scholarship. Three of them are from one school.

Emily Siner / WPLN (File photo)

Nearly 7,500 Tennessee adults have applied for free technical college under a program called Tennessee Reconnect. This means Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology are expecting more students than ever before.

TCAT Nashville, for example, currently has 1,000 students enrolled, says director Mark Lenz. The number who have applied there for the fall through Tennessee Reconnect is more than 1,600, according to the governor's office.

Parents of Tennessee children with certain disabilities will likely have a new option next year. A bill headed to the governor’s desk would give 18,000 families access to the state and local money allocated for educating their child in public school.  

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A new statewide program called Tennessee Reconnect will let anyone attend one of the state’s 27 technical colleges for free — but the state is facing obstacles getting the word out.

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Common Core legislation is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam's desk.

Tennessee senators voted 27-1 Tuesday afternoon to approve House Bill 1035, which sets up a new committee that will oversee efforts to rewrite the controversial education standards.

The move appears to mark the final chapter in a long-running debate over Common Core. The standards have become a lightning rod for criticism of the federal government's involvement in public education.

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN

The state Senate has turned back a last-ditch effort to save the Tennessee Virtual Academy, a decision that likely sounds the death knell for the struggling online school.

State education officials have ordered the virtual school, which is run by the for-profit company K12 Inc., to close this summer. They cite test scores that have ranked the school among the worst in the state each year since opening in 2011.

A plan presented Tuesday by state Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) would have given the school one final chance to improve. 

Stephen Jerkins / WPLN

A proposal to create as many as 20,000 vouchers for private school tuition was withdrawn yesterday, after backers determined they didn't have enough votes in the state House of Representatives to get it passed.

Several voucher proposals have made it through the state Senate in recent years, only to founder in the House, where teachers and school administrators tend to have more clout.

State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) says it'll take an assertive push to break through to lawmakers.

Sarah McGee / WPLN

Jesse Register delivered his final “state of the schools” address as Metro Schools superintendent Wednesday, and Mayor Karl Dean gave the introduction with an uncharacteristic flare.

“I really do believe – it’s sort of like Joni Mitchell said – you don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone," Dean said. "We had something really good here.”

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The University of Tennessee says it wants to create an inclusive environment for students — but still has some work to do to get there.

The university system is holding a statewide diversity summit for its employees Wednesday, with the hopes of making diversity a higher priority.