Rise & Shine: New Tennessee education commissioner Penny Schwinn starts today

Good morning,

Tennessee's new education commissioner, Penny Schwinn, starts on the job today. A former teacher and administrator in Texas, Delaware, California, and Maryland, Schwinn told us that one of her first orders of business will be addressing problems with TNReady ahead of spring testing. Also, read our latest fact sheet about her.

Schwinn arrives as department spokeswoman Sara Gast leaves her job as director of communications. Gast announced Friday that she will join Candice McQueen beginning this week at the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, a nonprofit group that the former education commissioner now leads.

— Jacinthia Jones, bureau chief

DECISION APPEALED Shelby County Schools plans to appeal TSSAA’s ruling banning three of its schools from postseason play following fights at boys basketball games, according to a statement released from the district Saturday. Daily Memphian, WHBQ, WMC-TV

GETTING INVOLVED Shelby County Commissioner Michael Whaley is leading the charge for the County Commission to be more involved in education beyond voting on budget proposals for Shelby County Schools and the six suburban school districts each fiscal year. Daily Memphian

HIGH HONOR A Shelby County Schools student with a disability was voted to represent her senior class on the school’s homecoming court. Local Memphis

LAWSUIT FILED A mother is suing Metro Nashville Public Schools after she claims her mentally disabled daughter was left unsupervised at school and had an accident that will leave her paralyzed for the rest of her life. WSMV

NO-BID CONTRACTS Metro Nashville Public Schools steered $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to a software company with whom Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph had done business in the past, violating state purchasing laws, according to a news investigation. WTVF

LISTENING TOUR Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson will kick off another round of listening sessions across the district this month to gather feedback and hear from Hamilton County students, parents, community members and staff. Chattanooga Times Free Press

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS The Maury County school board has approved more than $4 million in facility improvements to 12 of the school district’s 21 academic campuses. Columbia Daily Herald

UNLICENSED CHILDCARE With a high demand for childcare in Knoxville, some websites are promoting unlicensed providers. Knoxville News Sentinel

Extra Credit

PHOTO: Tikeila Rucker
Members and supporters of United Education Association of Shelby County are joined by interim superintendent Joris Ray in a #RedForEdDay of Action to raise awareness about inequities in public education.