Getting schooled

Lawmakers setting Tennessee education policy get first homework assignment

PHOTO: Grace Tatter
Rep. Roger Kane of Knoxville is the House sponsor of the proposal to expand Tennessee's Individualized Education Act.

A former teacher, Rep. Roger Kane has experience assigning homework. But this year marks the first time he’s assigned it to his fellow Tennessee lawmakers.

Members of the House Education Instruction and Programs subcommittee walked away from their first meeting on Wednesday with the panel’s first-ever homework assignment: a 26-page case study from the Harvard Business Review about a Maryland charter school gone awry.

The Knoxville Republican, who chairs the subcommittee, gave the lawmakers a week to read the study and answer questions about whether the school should be closed.

“I want to know what questions we should be asking,” said Kane, now an insurance broker who still teaches finance to adults. “I want us to understand what we’re asking others to do.”

Kane, who has served in the legislature since 2012, said he did the assignment himself while learning about minority student achievement at an Education Pioneers conference, which he attended in hopes of broadening his perspective.

“Ninety-seven percent of my district is white,” he said. “I don’t know the problems (facing minority communities) today as well as I should.”

Kane said the case study — detailing a Massachusetts charter school’s challenges with buildings, teachers and academic achievement — was “eye-opening.”

“It was stunning to me that a state would allow this,” he said.

The instruction subcommittee is one of four panels focused on education in the Tennessee House and meets each Wednesday. The full Instruction committee meets on Tuesdays.

Kane said the homework assignment will not be graded.

#GovTest

Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.

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What would you ask Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker about education?

Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

Use the form below to submit questions for the conversations, which will air back-to-back on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.