Tennessee

Rise & Shine: Casada texting scandal broke too late to derail voucher bill

Good morning!

Glen Casada's tenure as Tennessee's House speaker will be short-lived, but he's likely to leave a lasting legacy through the state's new education voucher program. The embattled lawmaker announced yesterday that he'll resign as speaker in the coming weeks over a texting scandal involving his former chief of staff. Casada's fall from grace comes after less than five months as speaker, where his biggest impact was helping to secure passage of Gov. Bill Lee's education savings account plan. But that controversial legislation was approved before the scandal broke. For today's featured story, we asked lawmakers about the timing, Casada's role, and the other voucher advocate who will succeed him for now.

Also, as the school year winds down, please consider becoming a sustaining Chalkbeat member. We rely on readers to help support our reporting on schools and the communities they serve. If you donate by May 28, every dollar will be matched up to $5,000. Double your impact here.

—Marta W. Aldrich, statehouse correspondent

 

TIMING  A voucher plan that squeaked through Tennessee’s legislature this spring probably would not have passed if a texting scandal involving the House speaker had broken just days or weeks earlier, says one Republican House leader. Chalkbeat

AGAINST THE ODDS  A Memphis high school graduate receives more than $3 million in college scholarship offers and gets accepted in 40-plus schools — all while being homeless. Essence, WZTV, The Commercial Appeal

BUDGET SEASON  In a plea to Nashville’s elected officials, community leaders urge Metro’s council to support a “moral budget” that funds school and employee raises. The Tennessean

Maury County commissioners approve a sales tax referendum to ask voters to reduce debt associated with local schools. Columbia Daily Herald

SUPERINTENDENT CHURN  The retiring superintendent of Collierville Schools reflects on nearly 40 years in public education, including several years as the leader of Legacy Shelby County Schools. WMC

After a tumultuous year of leading Williamson County Schools, Mike Looney says he’s ready for a new chapter as superintendent of Fulton County Schools, a larger, more diverse district in Atlanta. The Tennessean

Williamson County’s school board opts to forego a formal search for Looney’s successor and to instead begin negotiations with its deputy superintendent. The Tennessean

SEE ROCK CITY  A popular Chattanooga-area tourist attraction makes a five-year, $250,000 pledge to support a Hamilton County high school’s hospitality career readiness program. Times Free Press

DRESS CODE  Maryville’s school board adopts the district’s first-ever guidelines for what students can wear to school. Knoxville News Sentinel

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE  A mother waiting for a lung transplant at a Nashville hospital is able to watch her daughter graduate from a Clarksville high school, thanks to the creativity of hospital and school officials. WTVF

VIRTUAL LEARNING  New research finds that online courses help high school students graduate — but raises big questions about whether the approach actually helps students to learn. Chalkbeat

DOUBLE FAULT  A Detroit charter school is shutting down amid financial woes brought on by its lease agreement with an investment fund headed by tennis star Andre Agassi. Chalkbeat

Extra Credit: It’s Spring Fling Season

Emmanuel Bynum, a runner on Whitehaven High School’s track team in Memphis, is arguably one of the fastest sprinters in the state of Tennessee. He’s among the hundreds of high school athletes competing this week in Murfreesboro as part of Tennessee’s annual Spring Fling, the Olympic-style festival that features five spring sports sanctioned by the TSSAA. You can follow the results here. (Photo courtesy of Daily Memphian/Houston Cofield)