Questions Arise Around Education Department Contracts in Tennessee

Andy Spears
2 min readDec 9, 2021

Nashville education blogger TC Weber has some questions about a multi-million dollar contract extension for The New Teacher Project (TNTP) from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The key concern: Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn’s spouse is an employee of TNTP and stands to financially benefit from the contract.

As Weber notes, though, another element of importance is this: The contract is very likely not necessary.

Here’s more:

Kline and McClellan brought no data to support the extension of the contract, but lots of feel-good anecdotes and platitudes. They could not divulge the number of teachers who’ve participated, the number left requiring training, the demographics of those attending training, but they could relate how beautiful it was to see all these teachers shoulder to shoulder studying the curriculum as if one curriculum could reach all students.

State Senator Brenda Gilmore had the audacity to ask for actual data to support the renewal of the contract. She was told in response, “the Education Department hopes to have student reading scores by late December to show whether children improved their reading skills.” maybe they’ll drop that data by her house on Christmas morning.

McCallum offered that data would be available through the required universal screener by the end of next month, and TNReady data in the late Spring. What was glossed over is what



Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .