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Bill Lee Selects Texas Reform Advocate Penny Schwinn For State’s Next Education Commissioner

A top official in Texas has been tapped to lead Tennessee's Department of Education. Gov.-elect Bill Lee announced today that Penny Schwinn, the chief deputy commissioner of academics for the Texas Education Agency, will be the state's next education commissioner.

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Screenshot of tennesseepromise.gov

In just a few weeks, students who applied for free community college — and almost every high school senior in the state did — will have their first mandatory Tennessee Promise meeting.

This will give a better indicator of how many students are serious about enrolling in community college next fall, but it won’t give a prediction of how many students will end up graduating.

The Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History

A team of historians and scientists from Middle Tennessee hope to soon welcome home the remains of soldiers who died on foreign soil nearly 170 years ago.

Construction workers in Monterrey, Mexico unearthed the bones of more than a dozen men several years ago: US soldiers who died in in the Mexican-American war. Because of their location, where the 1st Tennessee Regiment fought and later set up camp in the 1846 Battle of Monterrey, historian Tim Johnson believes it’s likely they were volunteers from the midstate.

TN Photo Services

The agency charged with turning around Tennessee’s lowest performing schools has to find new funding. The Achievement School District was born in 2010 out of the Race to the Top program. All of that prize money will be gone next year.

Bobby Allyn / WPLN

The deal Gov. Bill Haslam struck with the Tennessee Hospital Association as part of his push to expand Medicaid in Tennessee is being closely followed by state leaders and hospital executives in other states that have resisted expanding coverage as part of the president's healthcare law.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

Bluegrass fans lined up on a bitterly cold fall night outside the speakeasy-style door of the Station Inn, a tiny, decades-old club in Nashville’s hyper-developing Gulch neighborhood.

Nineteen-year-old Caleb Montgomery took his place near the front. A guitarist, Montgomery already had visited at least a half dozen times since moving to Nashville for college a little over a year ago.

The energy, he said, is incomparable.

“This is a great venue for hearing bluegrass. Best in town, by far,” Montgomery said. “There’s such a small amount of people in there and you’re so close to the performers.”

 

TNGOP

Despite Republicans’ overwhelming majority in the state legislature, Rep. Sheila Butt feels like her party could be vulnerable. The potential culprit, she says, could come from Democrats infiltrating Republican primaries. She says this scenario recently played out in a local mayor’s race in Maury County, and she wants to know if it’s more widespread.

“In our family, at home, our family made our decisions,” she said. “I think it might be time in the state of Tennessee for our Republican family and Democratic family to make those decisions.”

Bobby Allyn / WPLN

Governor Bill Haslam says there’s no way around hiking the state’s gas tax some time in the future. The tax, which hasn’t increased since 1989, is not keeping up with the rising cost of building and maintaining Tennessee’s roads and bridges.

Improved fuel efficiency standards and the rise of hybrid and electric cars are a boon to the environment, but the governor says they hurt gas taxes. What’s more, Haslam says federal transportation funding is always uncertain, noting that Congress’ temporary fixes on the federal highway fund make it tricky to plan long-term projects.

Michael Noirot via Flickr

Thomm Jutz, a Nashville songwriter from Germany (who is now a U.S. citizen), has put out a three-part album about one of America’s thorniest periods — the Civil War. Volume 3 of The 1861 Project, which features singers including Kim Richey and Bobby Bare, focuses on the Battle of Franklin. Take a listen to how Jutz crafted the folk music album.

Emily Siner / WPLN

Nashville’s Music City Center has had 750,000 visitors since it opened about a year and a half ago — and a lot of them have probably gotten lost. 

The convention center spans 1.2 million square feet over several floors. To help people find their way, the MCC released a smartphone app, called Music City Center. I tried it out after the official launch event Wednesday morning.

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The Moth StorySLAM in Nashville: Tuesday, Jan. 15

Join us at The Basement East. The night's theme will be "best-laid plans." Come tell a story about To do lists, apologies, New Years resolutions. Or just come enjoy the show.

The Latest from 91Classical

While we didn't have a glass armonica in Studio C, we did hear music written for one. Roger Wiesmeyer and friends from Mozart in Nashville brought a preview of their annual Mozart Birthday Concert.

A selection of events from our Arts Calendar that caught our eye this week.

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

Each day on 91Classical, amidst the variety of the day's playlist, we offer a handful of featured selections at set times. Breakfast Baroque gets your day off to a light start, the Lunchtime Local features composers and performers from right here in the Midstate, the 5:00 Waltz celebrates the end of the workday, and our evening features take a different tack each night, from music that carries you to a specific spot on the globe to orchestral music first heard in the movie theater. Here's what's coming up this week: 

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