TC Weber: Life Long Dupe or Knowing Co-Conspirator
TC Weber keeps a close eye on shenanigans in Tennessee, in particular some questionable hiring practices. He starts with memories of fake ids in his youth, and the memory of a man who helped him buy some beer.
That memory was evoked yesterday when I watched Tennessee’s Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee extend a contract to $16 million with New York-based TNTP Inc. despite a potential conflict of interest for the state’s education commissioner.
This is the contract that covers the providing of literacy instruction to the state’s k-4 teachers over the summer months. The law was enacted by legislators based on the argument put forth by Commissioner Schwinn that the state’s teachers don’t know how to properly teach reading. Thus all k-4 teachers are now required to participate in a 2-week literacy instruction program focused on foundational literacy skills – one week virtual and one week in-person.
You may not be able to teach literacy virtually, but you can teachers to teach literacy virtually.
TNTP, who is charged with that training, is the employer that hired the Commissioner of Education’s Spouse after his contract was terminated by a Nashville charter school. A job he does almost entirely remotely since he serves Philadelphia School kids and the Schwinn’s reside in Tennessee.
But hey, don’t forget Mrs. Schwinn once drew a 6 figure paycheck from a charter school in California while serving as a cabinet member in Delaware’s Department of Education. This is a family that can adeptly handle multiple revenue streams.
Like the employee at the tavern in Hazleton, State Senator Todd Gardenhire, chairman of the Fiscal Review Committee left me with the question of wondering – lifetime dupe or knowing co-conspirator.
Gardenhire told Sam Stockard at the Tennessee Lookout that he “was concerned about the potential conflict at first but said Tuesday he believes Schwinn handled the matter correctly.”
Going on to say,
“I’ve talked to her a number of times about the perception and the problem,” Gardenhire said. “The governor’s aware of the optics. I’m aware of the optics, almost everybody up here is aware of the optics. She’s overly aware. I think there’s been so much light shined on this … I don’t want to say it doesn’t concern me, but it doesn’t raise any red flags for now.”
Let that sit and marinate for a minute.
If you’ll remember, this is the original contract is where the TNDOE released the RFP on the day before Christmas Eve, closing it the day after everybody returned to the office after the holiday break. The contract was awarded to TNTP based on an argument put forth by the DOE, that they were the only ones prepared to quickly provide service.
Only by their own admission they weren’t.