Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Democrats to Stew on Education at Potluck when Williamson Schools Director Speaks Thursday March 7

"No man's life, liberty and property is safe when the legislature is in session." ---Mark Twain, 1866
What he said.  Mark Twain.  It's too true.  Dr. Mike Looney will speak Thursday night in Franklin about bills in the legislature which Williamson County Schools opposes and supports.  Two of these bills have gotten lots of attention.  Two of them you have never heard of, I bet.
Dr. Looney tells us he has only one hobby---jumping out of airplanes.  We have just one question:  Which is more dangerous, sky-diving or school board meetings?
 PHOTO: Dr. Mike Looney


 Dr. Mike Looney, superintendent of Williamson County Schools, will speak about controversial education bills in the Tennessee legislature when he is the guest of the Williamson County Democratic Party on Thursday March 7.

Looney will be joined as a guest speaker by Anne-Marie Farmer, an attorney and mother of a child in a Metro Nashville public school.  Farmer has been at the forefront of Standing Together for Strong Community Schools (, a grassroots parents organization that has protested the charter authorizer and voucher bills which are currently being moved through Tennessee House and Senate education committees.

The potluck is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 at Williamson County Democratic Party headquarters, 112 East Fowlkes Street in Franklin. Guests are invited to bring a dish, but it is not necessary.  Children are welcome.

The Williamson County school board recently approved $30,000 for Looney to retain two lobbyists to represent the district's concerns about legislation in Nashville.  Also, Williamson County was recently notified of its first charter school application.

One bill in Nashville, the High-Performing School Districts Flexibility Act, was introduced by Williamson County legislators at the behest of Williamson County Schools.  The bill would allow the state's most successful school districts, such as Williamson County, to act with less state control in certain areas.  The bill is House Bill 210, and its Senate counterpart is SB 592. 

Looney has served as superintendent of Williamson County Schools since December 2009, and during his tenure the school district has registered a composite average ACT score of 23.1, a record high for the district, and ranks at the top of advanced placement course participation and exam pass rates for Tennessee and the U.S.

A former U.S. Marine, Looney retired at the rank of Staff Sergeant after serving more than seven years and being injured in the line of duty.

Looney was formerly superintendent of the Butler County School District in Alabama, and among his education experiences are school principal and classroom teacher. 

Looney gives keynote addresses at regional and national conferences, and he was a member of President George W. Bush's National Reading Leadership Panel. 

Looney admits to one hobby---jumping from planes as he is an avid skydiver. 

Among current legislation in House and Senate education committees is an "open enrollment" bill which would require Williamson County to allow students to change to schools outside of their districts.  These are HB 941 and SB 1175. 

Drawing wider public controversy have been a school voucher bill and the creation of a state body to authorize charter school applications.

The voucher bill would take public taxpayer monies from county school districts and give them to religious schools and for-profit schools under a so-called voucher system.  These bills are HB 190 and SB 196.

Another widely debated bill authorizes the state to approve charter schools' applications without the applications being routed through local school districts as is the current practice.  In its present form this bill, HB 702 and SB 830, applies only to Davidson and Shelby Counties.  The bill, which was introduced by House Speaker Beth Harwell, came on the heels of a controversy over an Arizona charter school being turned down by the Metro Nashville school board last year and the state subsequently punishing the school system by withholding $3.4 million in state funds. 

Tennessee General Assembly bill search and path to videos of all sessions and committee meetings:

The WCDP has a monthly Potluck Dinner meeting the first Thursday of every month and holds Coffee Klatch, an informal discussion of issues, every Saturday morning.  The WCDP also includes WC Young Democrats, WC Democratic Women and WC Democratic Veterans Council.  All meetings are open to the public.

Special events and community service projects of the Williamson County Democratic Party include Feed Franklin First, Adopt-a-Highway, Town Hall Meetings on current topics, Red Cross blood donor drives, voter registration drives, support of veterans and Operation Stand Down, Make It Blue Monday music event, maintenance of voter resources on WCDP web site and fund-raising to benefit other Williamson County non-profit organizations.  

The WCDP and Williamson County Democratic Veterans Council will accept clothing donations for homeless veterans every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at party headquarters.   Work clothes are especially needed, but all clothing donations for men and women are appreciated.  Clothing donations are turned over to Operation Stand Down Nashville. 

Williamson County is the sixth largest Democratic voting county in Tennessee.

For more information, contact WCDP at 615-790-3659.  Web site is  Williamson County Democratic Party headquarters is at 112 E. Fowlkes Street, off Columbia Avenue and five blocks south of Five Points in Franklin. 


Williamson County Democratic Party Headquarters

112 East Fowlkes Street

Franklin, TN 37064

 Phone:  615-790-3659

"Williamson County Democrats love America.  We care about our community, and we care about each other."


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