The same leaders and mostly the same faces are returning to the Tennessee legislature’s education committees this year, offering some hints to how education policy might shake out this session.
Sen. Dolores Gresham, a Republican from Somerville, will return as chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, whose membership remains unchanged from the previous General Assembly.
The House will maintain two education panels for the second consecutive General Assembly. Rep. Harry Brooks, a Republican from Knoxville, will again chair the chamber’s education administration and planning committee, while Rep. John Forgety will return as leader of the committee on education instruction and programs.
Committee appointments were announced Thursday in Nashville by House Speaker Beth Harwell and newly elected Lt. Gov. Randy McNally during the first week of the 110th General Assembly.
Here are four education issues to watch as Tennessee’s legislature kicks off
While it’s a new session, the education committees are expected to face familiar questions about the state’s testing system, the Achievement School District, and tuition vouchers. And with few new members, it will take changing minds to proffer different results on issues like vouchers, which sailed easily through House committees last session, only to stall on the House floor.
All four of House’s new education committee members have served in the legislature in the past, on other committees.
Rep. Mike Stewart, a Democrat from Nashville, has strong feelings about testing, having opted out his own child from taking the state’s new TNReady assessment last year.
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, a Republican from Lancaster, filed a bill last session to repeal the Common Core State Standards. Her proposal was unsuccessful, though separate legislation eventually resulted in the standards being revised.
Rep. Jay Reedy, a Republican from Erin, writes on his website that he does not believe in “one-size-fits-all education ideas from the federal government.”
And Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican from Dresden, identifies as a strong proponent of school choice.
Here’s the full list of committee appointments. (Members who are new to the panels are identified with an asterisk.)
Chairwoman: Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville)
Vice-chairmen: Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)
Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City)
Sen. Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville)
Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown)
Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville)
Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)
Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald)
House Education, Administration and Planning
Chairman: Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville)
Vice-chairman: Rep. Eddie Smith (R-Knoxville)
Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis)
Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis)
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (R-Ripley)
Rep. Roger Kane (R-Knoxville)
Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett)
Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City)*
Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington)
Rep. Johnnie Turner (D-Memphis)
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster)*
Rep. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro)
Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis)
House- Education, Instruction and Programs
Chairman: Rep. John Forgety (R)
Vice chairman: Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro)
Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia)
Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville)
Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden)*
Rep. Roger Kane (R-Knoxville)
Rep. Sabi “Doc” Kumar (R-Springfield)
Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville)
Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville)
Rep. Jay Reedy (R- Erin)*
Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville)*
Rep. Joe Towns (D-Memphis)