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VOL. 36 | NO. 15 | Friday, April 13, 2012




Haslam raises concerns over charter school bill

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NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday expressed reservations about a bill seeking to cap the number of foreign workers at Tennessee charter schools.

The Republican governor told reporters after a prayer breakfast at Lipscomb University that he is concerned about the measure headed for his consideration after passing both chambers of the General Assembly.

Haslam noted that the state is trying to promote more science, technology, engineering and math classes in the state, and that he doesn't want to close off a potential pipeline of teachers with expertise in those subjects.

"History has shown us that if you look at a lot of the technological innovations, a lot of them have come from folks who are born in other places beside the U.S.," he said. "And then they brought their talents here to use that to create good ideas to help Americans and create capital.

"So the idea itself is a little concerning to me."

The measure passed the House on a 63-29 vote on Monday, while the Senate passed its version last week on an 18-13 vote.

Under the bill, a chartering authority would not be allowed to approve a school's application if it planned to hire 3.5 percent of foreign workers from H1B or J-1 visa programs. The bill would allow exemptions to the limit for foreign language teachers.

Haslam said he has not yet seen the final version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and fellow Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, so he didn't know whether he would sign it into law.

"We want to check out the final version and see if this is something that hurts Tennessee, doesn't impact it or helps," Haslam said.

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