Education | Nashville Public Radio


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Tennessee's top education official sent a message to teachers Tuesday: thanks for another year of hard work, have a great summer break, and here's some summer reading for you.

Emily Siner / WPLN (File photo)

More than 9,000 Tennessee adults have signed up for free technical college under Tennessee Reconnect, a new statewide grant that covers tuition at any of the state’s 27 colleges of applied technology. State officials are calling it a marketing success.

Students at technical colleges, or TCATs, earn certificates and degrees in fields including welding, cosmetology or information technology. The schools don't have big advertising budgets, says associate vice-chancellor Carol Puryear, and instead rely mostly on word-of-mouth recruiting. 

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The board that oversees most of the colleges in the state is again discussing how it charges students for classes. The Tennessee Board of Regents wants to encourage students to take more credit hours— without reverting a decision it made in 2009. 

Back then, students only paid up to 12 credit hours — about four classes. Any additional classes would be free.

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.

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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.