Greetings Fabulous Fortieth District,
With the Primary Elections now behind us, Mike and I would like to thank those of you in the Fortieth House District who voted for me. I am humbled by your confidence to keep me as your voice and inspired to work even harder for you.
The race for the Fortieth House District was an exciting yet exhausting one for Team Weaver.
Hopefully all the candidates who put their name in to run in local, state, and federal races and their hardworking teams are taking some time to rest. One thing for sure is that roadways are cleaner and the scenery more at peace with all of the gazillion candidate signs gone. Which by the way, if you see one of our Weaver signs, please feel free to collect it and contact me and we will be happy to take it off of your hands. Soon, signs of candidates with opponents for the General Election will be popping up as we approach the November 6th Election Day. Your representative is unopposed in the General Election, but I may put a few signs up throughout the district just as a reminder to please vote on November 6th.
Last week the Education Committee met in Nashville concerning legislation that was scheduled for “Summer Study.” HB 2149 concerning programs for deaf children, HB1685 concerning RTI Implementation, BEP discussion from the Comptroller’s office and discussions on the Mandatory Fees at Public Institutions of Higher Ed. This joint education committee heard various stakeholders presenting their case. Then members of the Education Administration & Planning Committee and the Education Instruction & Programs Committee were given a time to ask questions. In the next legislative session, the above bills will have more understanding in the event a member carries that legislation when the 111th General Assembly convenes in January 2019.
Also, on my agenda sheet for discussion was the apparent mishap with the kindergarten portfolio and the TNReady Testing debacle that took place just two days before the 110th Legislature concluded back in May. I am still at odds with the Department about some mysterious hack that created all that TNReady chaos in April. As many of you know it was the members of the House who refused any further business until our teachers were cleared of any blame with the TDOE and the “bugs” were worked out. In other words, “we ain’t shuttin down” until our students and teachers are taken care of. The TDOE must hold Quastar accountable for their lack of preparedness and their mistakes. And this is not the first time Quastar has goofed at the expense of taxpayers. We ended up with a bill that reads if the scores help teachers, they may use those scores. If not, schools can discard the scores. None of the scores or evaluations are seen, nor can compensation or employment be a deciding factor due to those evaluations.
The 2018 - 2019 school year has kicked off and our Kindergarten teachers are required to submit portfolios for each child, (up to 40 hours of extra administrative work, which robs teaching time) for yet another incident from the vendor. Because you contacted your representative, the members on the committee has put much pressure on the department on your behalf. Representing over 28 schools in District 40, I heard you and voiced your frustrations in the committee meeting last week. Though some of you expressed the portfolios were of value to you, still the grievances should not be at the teachers’ expense (time) but reviewed by the TDOE and corrected accordingly. Local Superintendents throughout the state will be meeting with the Department of Education to review. Pressure works, and your voice was heard.
Where your money goes is a good indication of what your priorities are. The largest portion of our state’s budget is spent in three areas: 1) Health and Social Services 2) Education and 3) Transportation. Tennessee ’s education budget is 10.7 Billion! We were informed in the committee hearings our kids are the most improved in the nation BUT when I am told that only 1/3 of 3rd graders are proficient in reading, I am flabbergasted. That is unacceptable! That budget takes care of fully funding the BEP plus $200 M in new funding for K-12, $55M for teacher pay raises (which is most deserved I might add. After spending more in education than ever before, it is unacceptable that our children cannot read! The old saying is true, “If you cannot read, you cannot achieve!” There are numerous dynamics at play that prevent a child from learning but clearly the content and the emphasis that is put on testing needs to be reevaluated. But no matter how much is spent on education, we will never see more than dismal results if parents don’t do their part at home preparing and helping their children to succeed. We all must do our part or the proverbial “bucket with a hole in it” will never be filled.
Believe it or not, serving on the education committee was not a choice of mine. I sometimes joke that somebody had it out for me when I was originally assigned onto the education committee years ago. But I can tell you this, it has become one of my greatest passions. As one who tours each and every school in the district every two years since I was elected to serve in 2009, I can tell you that I sincerely care about the students, the teachers, principals and yes, the taxpayers who pay for the tab and have learned so much more about how it feels to be in their shoes than I could’ve ever imagined. Someone has to be the “rub” and for that I am honored to serve.
There is no doubt that government has messed up education. Period. The Federal Department of Education could go “bye, bye” in my humble opinion and let the States handle education on their own accord without the control from the Bureaucrats in D.C. We don’t need curriculum and testing contracts. What we actually need is to include educators in the conversation about what needs to be taught and how students learn best. Because let’s be honest, they are the experts. We need to encourage respectful relationships between parents, students and teachers. We are so controlled by federal dollars, you cannot even suspend a “bad” student for fear of a law suit! Under Bredesen as Governor in 2009, $500M was put toward “Race to the Top.” Well, it is obviously not the stuff that is going to teach our kids what they need to succeed.
There is a whole lot of fixin’ to do in education. For starters just let the teachers do what they do best; teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Then perhaps all of Tennessee’s third graders would be proficient readers. It is something to think about.
Remember Coffee Conversations are postponed till further notice. I am working on some new venues to meet.
Please do not hesitate to call on my office: 615-741-2192 and ask for Grace.
Again, thank you for your trust and confidence to serve you as your State Representative.
Because He Lives,
Terri Lynn Weaver
Tennessee's Constitutional Officers perform so many and varied functions, I'd like to share three that might be of particular help and interest to you:
The Office of the Secretary of State, Division of Elections, is a one-stop spot for your Voter Registration Information Lookup. You can review your registration information; obtain information regarding the EARLY VOTING schedule, now through July 28 for the August 2 election; and locate your Election Day polling place,
click here https://tnmap.tn.gov/voterlook
Do YOU have unclaimed property? Unclaimed property is money that has been turned over to the State by businesses and organizations who cannot locate the rightful owners. Every year, millions of missing dollars are turned over, and the Tennessee Treasury Department, Unclaimed Property Division, works to get that money back to whom it belongs. You can visit http://www.ClaimItTN.gov to search for your name, and file your claim online. Treasury recommends searching for common misspellings of your name, and addresses, as well. In the words of State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr.: "Treasury works every day to protect the financial lives of Tennesseans."
The mission of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury is to make government work better. In support of that, the Comptroller's Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) produces objective and accurate research, evaluations, and analyses to inform public policy discussions and decisions in the Tennessee General Assembly. OREA has issued reports covering numerous policy areas, including K-12 education, higher education, law enforcement, healthcare, and transportation. Their reports have "informed policy debates within the state legislature, led to changes in state law, and sparked the creation of state initiatives to address critical needs." Designed as a research center for legislators and their staff, OREA hopes that media, students, research organizations' staff, and the general public will utilize their website, which can be found here: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/Inde
These are just a few of the "tools in the toolbox" of the Tennessee state government, to assist the citizens of House District 40 and beyond--the more you know!
THE FOLLOWING FILES ARE IN PDF FORMAT.
Past Loop Reports