Rise & Shine: School building problems heat up as cold weather sets in

Good morning!

It's the time of year when talk of snow days creeps back into our schoolday conversations. But even before the first snowflake fell, cold temperatures have forced the cancellation of classes at a handful of Memphis schools. The city has more than its share of aging school buildings, and four state-run schools closed yesterday due to heating problems. Two others operated by Shelby County Schools dismissed students early over the same issue. And other facility problems have kept students home this semester too, exposing the bigger issue of costly overdue repairs and maintenance.

On other matters, Chalkbeat national reporter Matt Barnum takes an interesting look at the changing conversation among education reformers around standardized testing.

And here's a callout to teachers everywhere: Chalkbeat would love to hear your thoughts about reading instruction. It's a hot topic these days — and an important one. We're hoping you'll fill out a brief survey to help us better understand the national picture.

—Marta W. Aldrich, statehouse correspondent

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.

SCHOOL FACILITIES  About 1,200 Memphis students in four state-run schools stay home due to malfunctioning heating systems in aging buildings. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal, Local Memphis

Knox County Schools shuts down an elementary school for one day due to an elevated carbon monoxide reading in the building. Knoxville News Sentinel, WVLT

Many Tennessee school systems don’t test for radon, despite federal recommendations encouraging them to do so. WJHL

CHARTER GROWTH  Education leaders in Memphis explore the role of charter schools as the city’s options for students expand. Daily Memphian

DEVOS VISIT  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Sen. Lamar Alexander tour a Sevier County high school to show off a new app designed to make it easier to apply for financial aid for college. The Daily Times, WATE, WBIR

RETIREMENT INCENTIVES  Knox County Schools offers early retirement incentives to about 700 employees with an aim toward saving the district millions of dollars. Knoxville News Sentinel

SCHOOL SAFETY  Bradley County officials organize a team from law enforcement, mental health, and education to manage potential threats to local schools. WRCB

EXONERATED  An independent investigation finds that the actions of Williamson County Superintendent Mike Looney did not warrant his arrest by Franklin police during a February school incident. The Tennessean

LITMUS TEST  An anti-testing backlash seems to have reached an unlikely set: education reformers. Chalkbeat

WHEELS ON THE BUS  Mobile preschools started as an experiment in rural areas. Now they’re rolling into cities like Denver as well. Chalkbeat

READING SURVEY  Teachers: Tell us your thoughts on teaching reading. Click through, and fill out this brief survey. Chalkbeat