Tennessee education commissioner accused of misleading about learning loss

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – Educators and lawmakers from across the state are criticizing the Tennessee Department of Education for data it released, showing Tennessee students were experiencing a “significant” learning loss due to schools being closed from COVID-19.

a person in a suit standing in front of a building: Tennessee education commissioner accused of misleading about learning loss

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Tennessee education commissioner accused of misleading about learning loss

But it turns out much of that data was based on testing done before the pandemic, according to Chalkbeat Tennessee, a non-profit news organization focused on education issues.

It was an announcement that got everyone’s attention.

Tennessee education commissioner Penny Schwinn released data to show the impact prolonged school closures were having on Tennessee students.

“Because of some of these building closures and because of the impacts of COVID-19, we are seeing a significant decrease in the proficiency of students entering school this fall,” said Schwinn.

Schwinn said data showed a 50 percent decrease

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More than 1,000 positions open in Tennessee


The company is celebrating the ‘topping out’ of Amazon’s first of two towers for its ‘Operations Center of Excellence’ in downtown Nashville.

Nashville Tennessean

More than 500 jobs in Nashville will be up for grabs at Amazon’s annual Career Day on September 16.

This year, the event will be held virtually. The company has more than 30,000 jobs open nationwide, including 1,128 in Tennessee. 

Jobs start at $15 per hour and include health insurance, up to 20 weeks of parental leave and training opportunities. 

Pre-registration for the three-hour event is available at amazon.jobs/careerday. Amazon recruiters will also provide 20,000 individual career coaching sessions that participants can sign up for at registration. 

Throngs of job seekers fill the Cannery at Amazon’s highly publicized Career Day Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.  (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)

Career Day will feature speeches from Amazon executives and several discussions with

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Tennessee Department of Education has 33% turnover rate under Schwinn

Under the leadership of Commissioner Penny Schwinn, Tennessee’s Department of Education and its affiliates have experienced turnover of one-third of its employees, department data shows.

Since Schwinn took office as commissioner in February 2019, a total of 405 employees, or roughly 33 percent, have left the department. The vast majority of employees leaving the department have resigned – about two-thirds of the total number.

Since last February, 116 employees have resigned from the department’s central office, 19 have retired and 26 were terminated. As of this month, 391 employees remain in the department’s central offices.

A total of 244 employees left the departments’ subsidiaries, including the Achievement School District, State Board of Education, the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative, School Support Services program and the Tennessee Early Intervention System.

In the first nine months of Schwinn’s leadership, the turnover rate at the agency was about 18 percent, an increase from

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Tennessee Education Commissioner Schwinn gets an education in governance and politics

NASHVILLE — Following stints as a teacher — as well as in senior education leadership roles in California and Delaware — Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn finds herself in the midst of a new learning experience, navigating the Volunteer State’s sometimes-treacherous intersection of politics, policy and management.

During her 20-month tenure here, the 37-year-old commissioner has managed to rile department staffers, certain educators and several school district superintendents. Worse for her, a number of conservative GOP majority state lawmakers and groups have begun to criticize her.

The latest example is an uproar among conservatives over a child welfare wellness-check program. Schwinn proposed it as an option, one of several “tool-kits” to ensure students are OK during the coronavirus pandemic. Child abuse complaints have fallen some 27% percent during the pandemic, and some worry that’s because abuse is not being spotted by educators during virtual, as opposed to in-person, learning.


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Gunmaker SCCY pulls out of plans for East Tennessee headquarters


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Knoxville News Sentinel

A gun manufacturer that had pledged to invest $22.5 million in East Tennessee is pulling out of the region and returning the land it received as economic incentive. 

Though it never built its planned headquarters in Maryville, SCCY Firearms (pronounced “sky”) will close its leased manufacturing facility in Maryville by the end of October and move all operations back to Daytona Beach, Florida, CEO Joe Roebuck told The Daytona Beach News-Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. 

Roebuck said he informed Tennessee officials last week that he was scrapping plans for a nine-building campus in Blount County. 

Instead, he’ll retain headquarters in Daytona Beach and open a second plant there. SCCY manufactures semi-automatic pistols. 

Joe Roebuck, founder and CEO of handgun maker SCCY Industries, announced

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Tennessee focuses on player development with “VFlight” program

The program focuses on personal development, community development and professional development.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When players walk into Assistant Athletics Director for Player Relations and Development Ashley Smith’s office, it doesn’t feel like part of the football complex. It’s an escape.

“I think that environment and setting the tone is very important,” Smith said.

She said that her office is meant to set a tone like “a little touch of home.”

From inspirational quotes to a sign that reads, “Home Sweet Home,” the tone is clear.

“(If) a guy’s having a rough day, he can come in here,” she said. “Just kind of have a moment and just maybe read some things around the room and just regroup to go out and tackle whatever hurdles he’s looking to jump over.”

It’s not only in her office that she wants to help the people in the programs she runs.

Smith oversees

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Tennessee Department of Education delays launch of COVID-19 dashboard tracking school cases

Officials said that the department faced technical difficulties processing data across a number of school districts.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Education was expected to launch a tool that would help people track cases of COVID-19 in schools, as the school year starts. However, the launch of the tool was delayed after technical difficulties processing data from school districts, officials said.

Now, officials said that they expect full reporting across every district by Sept. 22.

They released a statement about the delay on Tuesday: 

The anticipated launch of the Tennessee Department of Education dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases in schools has been delayed due to technical difficulties with processing data across a number of school districts. TDOE is working to rectify this technical issue with the intent to launch the COVID-19 case tracking dashboard before the end of the week. Full reporting across every district is expected by September

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Governor Won’t Say Whether He Would Get COVID-19 Vaccination | Tennessee News

By TRAVIS LOLLER, Associated Press

Nashville, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday would not say whether he would be vaccinated against COVID-19 when a vaccine becomes available. His comments came during a news conference at which he also announced that the Education Department will provide information on COVID-19 cases in public schools.

Public health departments are being told to prepare to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as early as Nov. 1. and Lee said the state is working to develop a distribution plan.

But the Republican also called a decision to vaccinate a personal choice and said he would do what he would want all Tennesseans to do. “I’ll determine if I believe it is safe and effective and talk to my doctor,” Lee said.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said at the news conference that the Nov. 1 date should be taken as a loose timeframe for when

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