Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd: Session Highlights

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   Teacher Shortages – Public Chapter 125 simplifies the process for teachers who are moving to Tennessee to receive an appropriate teaching license, helping qualified teachers get into classrooms quicker. 

   Teacher Discipline Act – Public Chapter 77 establishes a process for local school districts to enable a teacher to remove a student who causes repeated disruptions.

   Teachers / Endorsement Pathways – Public Chapter 571 seeks to increase retention of high-quality educators by providing an alternative endorsement pathway, providing flexibility at the local level. The Board of Education will create a process by which school districts may administer training programs for endorsements without having to enroll in higher education. However, individuals will still be expected to pass an assessment to ensure they are qualified.

   Pandemic Restrictions / K-12 In-Person Learning — Public Chapter 96 gives Tennessee’s governor the authority to issue an Executive Order requiring all schools to offer in-person learning. In addition, the bill grants school boards more independence regarding whether their schools should be open or closed to in-person learning during a public emergency, unless the governor has issued a statewide order. 

   CTE Legislation / Preparing Students for High Opportunity Careers – Public Chapter 271- requires the Department of Education to begin preparing students in middle school for a Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway that may align with their career aptitude. It introduces students to career opportunities that allow them to explore a wide variety of high-skill, high-wage or in-demand career fields.

   Tennessee Work Ready Opportunity Program – Public Chapter 552 allows students to take a nationally recognized assessment to help with career readiness.

   Removal of Common Core-Aligned Materials from Tennessee Classrooms – Public Chapter 205 prohibits the local selection of supplemental education materials that are aligned to Common Core by schools and districts.

   Textbook Transparency Act – Public Chapter 341 ensures that all textbooks that are in the hands of Tennessee students are accessible to the public to view. 

   Curriculum / Critical Race Theory – Public Chapter 493 says schools cannot promote instruction or curriculum which asserts that this state or the U.S. is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist or that it should be violently overthrown on that basis. It also says you can’t teach curriculum which says that an individual, by virtue of the person’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously. 

   Parental Choice / Curriculum — Public Chapter 281 states that a parent or guardian must be notified no less than 30 days prior to instruction being given on sexual orientation or gender identity and allows parents to opt their children out of any curriculum that teaches on the subject. 

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov.