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News & Press: Policy Update

COVID-19, Literacy Bill, Census 2020

Friday, March 13, 2020  
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COVID-19 TICUA Resources


TICUA has received several calls concerning campus communications and action plans related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This morning TICUA sent out a request to TICUA member campus Presidents asking for the most current status of the campus actions.  TICUA will collect those responses and make them available to all its members.

Additionally, we have created a COVID-19 webpage on the TICUA website.  It contains the most up-to-date information from NAICU at the national level, Tennessee Department of Health at the state level, and some additional resources related to business continuity planning.  It is also worth noting, the Tennessee Department of Health link has higher education resources including table-top exercises for campuses to think through the various scenarios.  

We have also created a COVID-19 Forum for you to post relevant documents, ask questions, and share strategies.  The campus status results will be hosted here as well. The Forum link is located as sub-menu under the COVID-19 tab on the TICUA homepage.  You must be signed-in to the TICUA Social Link to open the COVID-19 Forum.  The Forum content can be accessed by other member campuses but not by the general public.

I truly appreciate everyone coming together to navigate these uncharted waters.  Sharing your resources and collective wisdom will improve service to our students, their families, and our employees.

Administration Seeks Compromise on Literacy Bill



      Compromise was finally reached in the third Administration amendment to Governor Bill Lee’s literacy bill (SB2160/HB2246).  Last week TICUA testified before the House Curriculum, Testing, and Innovation Subcommittee identifying areas of concern with the previous version of the bill.

The first concern dealt with who would bear the cost of the literacy test and required professional development.  TICUA has offered amendment language that makes it clear that all literacy exams will be paid for by the Department of Education.  The Administration adopted some of TICUA’s language but has also agreed to testify before the House and Senate Education Committees that the Department of Education has no intention in passing the costs on to the student or Education Preparation Provider (EPP).

Second, TICUA originally requested that the Administration strike the section of the bill requiring university faculty offering reading instruction covering the Kindergarten-Second Grade band to either have an active teacher’s license or take the literacy exam.  A compromise was reached.  The language in the most recent amendment university faculty will need to do ONE of the following: 1) have an active license, 2) take the literacy exam (one time), 3) be exempt from taking the literacy exam by attending the Departments two session professional development sessions (one time), or 4) seek a waiver from this requirement.  For new hires, the requirement must be met within the first year of the faculty’s employment.

Finally, TICUA has expressed concern over the bill’s provision to conduct a college cost analysis of teacher preparation programs.  If the study must move forward, TICUA is requesting that the analysis focus on net-cost and include state operational subsidies for our public university partners.  The third amendment contains the net-cost assessment.

Thursday afternoon another amendment to the literacy bill was filed by Senate Education Chair, Dolores Gresham.  The amendment addressed several issues related to local control, procurement process, and the EPPs.  The amendment stuck the entire section on EPP faculty training but retained the general training and instructional goals, along with the affordability study.  It is assumed that Sen. Gresham will move to have her amendment replace the Administration’s third amendment which would make the bill. 

The bill was heard on Tuesday in the House Curriculum, Testing, and Innovation Subcommittee and it passed sending it to the full House Education Committee.  The Senate Education Committee has the bill on its Monday calendar.

Census 2020




TICUA has partnered with the University of Tennessee and THEC to assist with the campus responses to the Census 2020.  Appropriately counting our students results in millions of federal dollars going to the communities in which our campuses reside.  This results in additional funding for roads, city infrastructure, and other critical resources.

Students are to complete the census based on where they normally reside on April 1, 2020.  Be assured that census data cannot be shared with any other federal or state agency, period.  The data are highly confidential and will be used solely to accomplish the purposes of the census. 

The following resources will give campuses guidance on how to encourage participation in the census by our students, faculty, and staff.  The resources also include printable flyers, social gifs, and other resources. 


TICUA Student Email Campaign Continue

      Students attending TICUA campuses from across the state are writing “thank you” emails to state legislators for the state funded student aid programs. To date, over 650 student emails have been sent to capitol hill. TICUA students benefiting from the Hope Scholarship and/or the Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA) are encouraged to go to the TICUA website’s Action Center to send notes of gratitude for the financial support.  

During the 2018-19 academic cycle, students attending TICUA campuses received just under $60 million from the Hope Scholarship programs and about $26 million from the TSAA, the state’s need-based student aid program.  TICUA Chief Financial Aid Officers have been asked to encourage their aid recipients to go to TICUA’s Action Center and participate in the “thank you” email campaign.