Watson says lawmakers are receptive

On January 13, 2010, in News 2010, by Mark Norris

David Davis, Managing Editor, Cleveland Daily Banner
January 13, 2010

State Rep. Eric Watson said this morning the Legislature is looking forward to the special education session called by the governor as he reveals more details of his plan to strengthen the state’s application for federal “Race to the Top” funds.

Watson said the Tennessee General Assembly will have a “laser-like focus on K-12 education and meaningful reform. We do not yet have a full picture of specifics, but many of these things I have supported for years.”

Watson said Tennessee is light years ahead of many states in terms of compiling data and some of these proposals include utilizing that data more than ever.

“I look forward to hearing these proposals and hammering out the details to improve education for all Tennessee students,” he said. “Tennessee students are not just competing with students from other communities and other states, they are competing with students from other countries. In this global economy, we owe it to our students to give them the best education we can.”

Below are comments by other legislators compiled by the Associated Press:

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“The community college emphasis, the technical schools, we’ve been needing to do that for many, many years. I’m worried about the federal hook, about federal overreaching and encroachment. But he acknowledged that tonight, and I think he’s willing to work with us to avoid those entanglements.” — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville

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“I believe that everyone wants to work together on this particular proposal. I hear a lot of positive comments about it, and I believe we’re going to have a good vote when the final tally comes.” — Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis

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“I got the answers that I wanted, and I got the reasoning behind it. This just came so sudden that it was a shock to our teachers. Once we get into it, and they realize what we’re trying to do in Tennessee, I think they’ll be OK with it.” — House Speaker Kent Williams, R-Elizabethton

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“There are parts of our state that have many failing schools. This is an opportunity to help them rise to the top. … We can’t let this proposal get watered down and play politics with it. We must stick to the goals.” — House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol

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“It’s an opportunity for the state of Tennessee to be very bold in moving students forward and making sure that they’re prepared for this global economy. It’s an exciting concept, both in K-12 education and higher ed.” — Sen. Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville

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“We are all continuing to negotiate what those numbers need to look like, but we’re on the same sheet as to wanting to make sure we are competitive and that we do make the kinds of changes that have a lasting effect regardless of Race to the Top.” — Education Commissioner Tim Webb

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“I’m all for accountability, but accountability means being responsible for your own actions. And I’m afraid that the federal emphasis on test scores is trying to make teachers responsible for the actions of others, their students who are taking tests.” — Rep. Henry Fincher, D-Cookeville

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“We’re working hard to get to something we can all agree on to move this process forward,” Tennessee Education Association lobbyist Jerry Winters

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“We just don’t want this to be in any way punitive toward teachers, I want to make this positive. You could see a situation where if teachers feel this is a punitive situation, there are eight states around us and they could go teach somewhere else. And we certainly don’t want that to happen.” — House Finance Chairman Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley

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“The governor’s on the right track by trying to make at least some of the decisions based on whether you can actually teach. I think 100 percent should be based on that. But it’s a big jump from zero.” — Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains

 

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