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Rise & Shine: Tennessee literacy initiative in jeopardy as funding dries up

Good morning!

Just over three years ago, then-Gov. Bill Haslam joined his wife, Chrissy, and his education commissioner, Candice McQueen, to kick off a major reading initiative amid much fanfare. Read to be Ready was the state's response to the sad fact that — according to national tests — only a third of Tennessee's fourth-graders were considered proficient readers. Local educators embraced the idea, with most districts signing on to take advantage of a new statewide literacy coaching network for teachers and summer reading camps for kids. But now, those same educators are incensed that programs that appear to be making a difference were not prioritized this spring in the budget proposed by Gov. Bill Lee and approved by the legislature. Today's featured story explains.

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—Marta W. Aldrich, statehouse correspondent

READ TO BE READY  Tennessee’s statewide network of literacy coaches is being dismantled this month after funding for that program was not renewed in the budget proposed by Gov. Bill Lee and approved by the legislature. And the future of popular summer reading camps started four years ago under Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is uncertain after a federal grant falls out. Chalkbeat

PAID LEAVE  The director of early childhood programs for Shelby County Schools is off the job pending an investigation into an undisclosed matter. WREG

THE COST OF TEACHING  Here are the Tennessee cities where teachers pay the most and least for rent compared to their salaries. The Tennessean

SEX EDUCATION  A group of Knox County parents and former students circulates a petition seeking changes to how sex education is taught, charging that the curriculum has harmful stereotypes and misinformation. Knoxville News Sentinel

ONLINE TOOL  A Chattanooga research organization unveils a digital calculator designed to help residents understand the personal impact of a proposed $34 million increase in funding for Hamilton County Schools. Times Free Press

SECESSION DENIED  The school board for Franklin Special School District votes against letting a neighborhood leave its zoning to join Williamson County Schools. The Tennessean

K COUNT  A drastic drop in kindergarten enrollment could mean layoffs within Hawkins County Schools. Kingsport Times-News

CAFETERIA FOOD  Tyson Foods recalls more than 190,000 pounds of potentially contaminated chicken fritters sent to food service customers including schools in Tennessee. CNN

The new food-services director for Seattle Public Schools — who once worked in Chattanooga — talks about what’s on his plate. Seattle Times

TASSLE UP  This graduation season, many of those receiving a diploma are using their mortarboards as a canvas to express themselves. The New York Times

OPINION: EDUCATION ISN’T ENOUGH  Like many rich Americans, Nick Hanhauer used to think educational investment could heal the country’s ills — but he now says that’s wrong. Fighting inequality must come first, he says. The Atlantic