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CRS diploma bill dead this year–looking to next year


Apparently, the bill offered by state Rep. Mike Bell to make state agencies recognize church-related-school diplomas is dead for this year. However, there is hope for a bill that Bell intends to offer next year. Details, so far as they are known, at Here’s my take and summary.

Kay Brooks points out that the House Calendar and Rules Committee (which basically controls which bills make it to the floor for a vote) is controlled by House Democrats, “many of whom have already expressed their bias against education choices not directly controlled by the government school system.”

Rob Shearer established that the committee is not just controlled by House Democrats, but is heavily stacked their way. Out of 25 members, 21 are Democrats. The majority in the overall House is only 53-46, but that allows them to appoint the House Speaker, who appoints the committee members, and you see where this goes.

Even though HB1652 was co-sponsored by a Democrat, Rep. Bell saw it was going nowhere this year, and effectively took it off the table in order to craft a bill likelier to get bipartisan support, which he will probably offer during the next session that starts in January.

The decision apparently resulted from a meeting following a similar result for the companion Senate bill, SB 1827. According to email from Claiborne Thornton, Tennessee Home Education Association president:

As a result there were meetings with the Department of Education, Senator Dewayne Bunch, sponsor of SB 1827, Senator Jamie Woodson, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and Bruce Opie of the DOE. [Note that it involved only Senators, so Rep. Bell was not present.] ….

In this meeting it was discussed that since legislation had not passed to remedy the problem of the Category IV diplomas not being recognized by the POST, the TN Police Training organization, and by the Department of Human Services, which sets policy for hiring of day care workers, there would be a temporary remedy agreed upon. That remedy would be that on a case-by-case basis, individuals could request a review by these agencies when their diplomas were denied recognition, with the hope that the Category IV diplomas would be recognized by these agencies. This, again, would be the temporary solution until there could be a legislative remedy agreed upon, hopefully next year.

The same email reports:

He intends to bring a new bill to the House Education Committee next year. He is already working on the strategy for this legislation. The bill would state that Category IV diplomas would be recognized by the state and their agencies, whether obtained by a full time, on campus, church-related school student, or a home schooler affiliated with a church-related school, when the student makes a score of 16 on the ACT.
Taking the ACT and making a 16 is about the equivalent of a “C” grade and is the accepted ACT score for admission in many colleges, including student athletes in the UT system. Rep. Bell thinks that this score could be used as a way to validate the student’s high school education and thereby validate their Category IV diploma.  In discussion with the DOE, with fellow House members and others, he has had very positive response to this strategy.

It’ll have to do. The irony is that Tennessee colleges and universities already accept diplomas under these conditions–the ACT basically tests for readiness for college entry. Graduates of any high school must take it, and usually must attain a specific score. Therefore, this bill will really only affect people who don’t intend to go to college.

High schools run by the state do not have such a stated goal–plenty of high schoolers in that system do not plan to attend college, and so follow a different curriculum.

So, in order to compete with other high school graduates for jobs that do not require a college education a homeschool or church-related-school graduate will have to demonstrate readiness to attend college.


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Written by Donnell

May 15th, 2008 at 9:51 am

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  1. […] have posted a fairly detailed update on Tennessee House Bill 1652, for those interested. Blogged with the Flock […]

  2. […] have posted a fairly detailed update on Tennessee House Bill 1652, for those interested. Blogged with the Flock Browser Comments […]

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