Rise & Shine: Teachers are ‘ready to fight,’ says new Tennessee coalition

Good morning!

Tennessee's last teacher strike happened in 1978, when 3,700 teachers walked out of Memphis schools over disputes about pay, class size, evaluations, and student discipline issues. Those same issues are still with us today, but the ability to strike is supposedly off the table, thanks to a 40-year-old state law that makes it illegal for teachers to engage in a strike. Now a new coalition of teachers is exploring options for collective action out of growing frustrations about school funding, testing, and evaluations, as well as the prospect of vouchers and charter expansion under a new governor. We've got the latest on the group calling itself TN Teachers United.

Also today, we take a closer look at a state-run charter school in Memphis that has cut its suspension rate in half this school year — and how it's accomplishing that.

—Marta W. Aldrich, statehouse correspondent


#REDforED  Weary of standardized testing and underfunded schools, and alarmed by the prospect of education vouchers and charter expansion in Tennessee, a group of teacher leaders organize a new statewide coalition. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal

DISCIPLINE DATA  As Tennessee’s turnaround district tries to reduce suspensions, here’s how one Memphis middle school is rethinking discipline. Chalkbeat

CHARTER SCHOOLS  Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to create a new independent state entity to authorize charter schools clears its first legislative hurdle despite reservations among fellow Republicans. Times Free Press, Daily Memphian

ALL ABOUT VOUCHERS  Here’s what you need to know about Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to create education savings accounts in Tennessee. The Tennessean, Chalkbeat

EDUCATOR SURVEY  Tennessee’s public educators are asked to participate in an annual survey distributed by the state education department and its research partner at Vanderbilt University. Johnson City Press

GIFTS FROM AMAZON  Amazon hasn’t yet opened its new operations center in Nashville, but the retail giant is making an early contribution to organizations that serve the city’s schools and individuals newly released from prison. The Tennessean

CHARTER CLOSURE  Should parents of a just-closed Nashville charter school have been notified earlier about problems at New Vision Academy? The Tennessean

REVISED AUDIT  Metro Nashville’s auditor says the city’s school district committed numerous violations relating to proper purchasing procedures. Nashville Public Radio, The Tennessean

LEFT OUT  Following a vote of Williamson County commissioners, Franklin’s school district won’t receive additional revenue from a sales tax hike that was billed as a means to fund school building projects in the county. The Tennessean

SCHOOL SECURITY  A visitor management systems is in place at all 22 Sullivan County schools, a system also used in neighboring school systems in Kingsport and Johnson City. Kingsport Times-News

ON AIR  A Rutherford County teacher takes to the airwaves in a weekly radio broadcast aimed at combating teen violence. WSMV

REZONING  Dickson County’s school board approves a rezoning plan necessitated by construction of a new middle school. The Tennessean

CURRICULUM QUESTION New research suggests that different curriculum materials might not matter much — at least when it comes to elementary math test scores. Chalkbeat

HOMELESS CRISIS  Student homelessness is on the rise across the country, according to one study. Education Week

Extra Credit

High school students participate in the Student Congress on Policies in Education, sponsored by the Tennessee School Boards Association. The March 5 event drew 349 students and took place on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. Student Congress is designed to give students a voice about public education issues that affect them. (Photo courtesy of TSBA)