Tennessee

Rise & Shine: State eduction chief begins restructuring and Memphis considers paying college debt of new teachers

Good morning!

State education chief Penny Schwinn has begun restructuring the department with a mix of Tennessee folks and outside hires. On the job since January, she's not wasting time getting her team in place.  Among a dozen top-level jobs currently posted, Schwinn says her priority is a new chief academic officer who will help execute her vision for education in the state.

Meanwhile, Sharon Griffin, who oversees the state-run Achievement School District, is making changes of her own. On Thursday, she fired Bobby White, chief of external affairs. White had been the face of the turnaround district, serving as the point person for parents, community members, and charter school organizations. Griffin was hired last summer to take over the district; White joined the district in 2016.

In other news, Shelby County Schools is considering a plan to offer student loan assistance instead of retiree medical benefits to new teacher hires. District staff said the move would attract millennials saddled with loan debt and help the district stem the cost of medical benefits for retirees. The district's estimated future retiree costs total almost a billion dollars.

And in non-education news, we're setting up our Chalkbeat Tennessee booth Saturday at the 2nd Annual Binghampton International Festival.
We'll be there from noon to 3 p.m. to connect with folks in the Binghampton community and we want to hear from you!  Office Hours are an informal time to meet us, learn about what we do, and give us your feedback and story ideas. We hope to see you Saturday.

— Jacinthia Jones, bureau chief

TEACHER BENEFITS New Shelby County Schools employees would be eligible for student loan assistance next summer instead of retiree medical benefits, under a district proposal. Chalkbeat

JOB CHANGES Less than three months into the job, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn has filled six of her nine cabinet positions with a mix of new hires, retentions, and promotions as she begins to restructure one of the state’s highest-profile departments. Chalkbeat

MORE JOB CHANGES A senior official in Tennessee’s Achievement School District was ousted Thursday morning – the first major shakeup the district has seen under leader Sharon Griffin. Chalkbeat

JOB FAIR Shelby County Schools Interim Superintendent Joris Ray met with prospective educators at the University of Memphis campus with a plea to stay in the city. The Daily Memphian

CHARTER SCHOOLS The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Thursday carried by state Sen. Brian Kelsey establishing a charter commission with authority to overrule local school boards and run charter schools. The Daily Memphian,  Chalkbeat

MUSIC AWARD A  Franklin Special School District music teacher will be honored by the County Music Association Foundation for her outstanding work in music education. The Tennessean

TNREADY CONFIDENCE Hamilton County school district officials and board members are encouraged and enthusiastic going into this year’s TNReady testing season, thanks to data from benchmark tests the district has conducted throughout the school year. Chattanooga Times Free Press

OPINION As the highly tumultuous period of leadership for the city’s first African-American Director of Schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools comes to a shameful end, Dr. Shawn Joseph showed class all the way while the city will have to watch and see if the Board of Education will claw the new black Director of Schools. The Tennessee Tribune