Tennessee: Governor calls for special session on education

Tennessee: Governor calls for special session on education

December 15th, 2009 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

NASHVILLE - Gov. Phil Bredesen today said he is calling for a special session to address K-12 issues including tying teacher tenure to student performance and also to address changes in higher education funding.

State officials face a Jan. 19, 2010, deadline for submission of paperwork to try to draw down federal dollars in the Race to the Top program. That program is part of the federal stimulus funds expected to reward states that have made major changes in K-12 education.

Lawmakers' regular session is expected to start Jan. 12.

House Finance Committee Chairman Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said issue the special session will deal with include a requirement that states use student performance in the evaluation of teachers.

Rep. Fitzhugh also said the special session would deal with making substantial changes to the state's higher education system, changes that have been the subject of ongoing discussions among the governor and key lawmakers.

Those changes include changing the current higher education funding formula from a needs-based formula fueled primarily by enrollment to include performance measures, primarily the record of institutions to graduate more students.

Another provision that would be discussed in the special session, Rep. Fitzhugh said, is a more prominent role for community colleges.

Rep. Fitzhugh said he thinks there would be support for the special session, which would allow lawmakers to zero in on the education issues.

There was no immediate comment from the governor's office.