Governor-Elect Bill Lee Names Penny Schwinn Education Commissioner

Thursday, January 17, 2019
Penny Schwinn
Penny Schwinn

Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee on Thursday announced the appointment of Penny Schwinn to lead the Tennessee Department of Education.


“Penny leads with students at the forefront and I believe her experience is exactly what we need to continue improving on the gains we have made in the past few years,” said Governor-elect Lee. “As a former teacher and seasoned administrator, she will help make Tennessee a leader in the nation on education.”



Schwinn currently serves as the chief deputy commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency. In this role, she pursued a series of reforms including the transformation of a failing state assessment program. She also implemented the expansion of statewide externships and pathway development for improving students’ career readiness upon graduation.


Additionally, Ms. Schwinn oversaw the development of open-source instructional materials to empower teachers with high-quality resources for teaching. Prior to serving in the Texas Education Agency, Ms. Schwinn was the chief accountability and performance officer for the Delaware Department of Education where she led efforts to conduct a testing audit, which led to nearly a 20 percent decrease in student testing time.


A former teacher, Ms. Schwinn taught with Teach for America (TFA) from 2004-2007 with work in Baltimore City Public Schools and Los Angeles. She is also the founder of Capitol Collegiate Academy, a charter school that serves low-income students in South Sacramento.


Officials with Professional Educators of Tennessee said, "Education is the key to our economy. Professional Educators of Tennessee looks forward to continued collaboration with the Lee administration to strengthen our state’s education system. Teachers must feel valued and students must be the priority. We have met with Penny Schwinn and look forward to getting to know her better and to collaborate together on public education. Schwinn shares Governor-elect Bill Lee’s commitment to support teachers, reduce our testing burden, and improve the working environment, including more competitive compensation. We can change the trajectory of education for children and families when we support quality education and those on the frontlines. It will take all of us together, and we need Commissioner Schwinn to be successful in her new role. We would also like to thank Lyle Ailshie for serving as interim commissioner and hope that he will continue serving the state at the Department of Education."

State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) President and CEO David Mansouri said, "Penny Schwinn has a track record of making decisions based on what’s best for students and innovatively tackling the kinds of challenges facing our state.

"Tennessee educators need deep support, and Dr. Schwinn has walked in their shoes as a teacher and leader at the school, district, and state levels and in traditional, public charter, and state-led turnaround schools. Tennessee must give students with the greatest needs a great education, and Dr. Schwinn has passionately and effectively championed these students throughout her career. Assessment delivery must become first in class, and Dr. Schwinn has experience administering assessment programs in two states.

"Dr. Schwinn has spent her career in the trenches working for kids, showing through words and actions that she is driven to prepare all students to find their routes to success after high school. We welcome her to Tennessee."
Tennesseans for Student Success President and CEO Adam Lister said, “Congratulations to Penny Schwinn as she is named Tennessee’s next Commissioner of Education. Over the last eight years, Tennessee experienced historic gains in public education, and the next Commissioner will have an opportunity to continue to advance the policies that drive success for all students in Tennessee’s classrooms.
“I applaud Governor-Elect Lee for this important appointment and am encouraged by the deliberative and thoughtful approach to encouraging the best people, policies, and ideas to be at the table for every student in Tennessee. Schwinn has a track record of success in, Texas as the Texas Education Agency’s chief deputy commissioner of academics, turning around struggling schools in Delaware, and as an educator working to close the achievement gap for every student. Tennesseans for Student Success is encouraged that through her leadership and with Governor-Elect Lee, advancing opportunities for all of Tennessee’s students will be a top priority and we look forward to working with her.” 

The Tennessee Medical Association President Matthew L. Mancini said, "The TMA congratulates our member Dr. Lisa Piercey for being named the 14th commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health.


"Governor-Elect Bill Lee made a great choice in appointing a physician leader with a range of experience in private practice and healthcare administration at one of the largest independent hospital systems in the state. Dr. Piercey’s deep Tennessee roots, clinical and business acumen make her uniquely qualified to lead the governor-elect’s effort to make Tennessee a healthier place to live, work and play. Her emphasis on population health management, disease management and preventive medicine will be crucial to improving Tennessee’s public health status and helping Governor-Elect Lee fulfill his campaign pledge.


"We appreciate Dr. John Dreyzehner’s steady leadership during the past eight years and look forward to working with Dr. Piercey on the most important healthcare issues facing our great state."


Dalton Police Department Seeks Suspects In Car Break-Ins

Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday

Legislation Sponsored By Rep. Helton Streamlining Greenbelt Applications Passes House

The Dalton Police Department is seeking help from the public to identify two men who broke into three vehicles parked at the Planet Fitness gym on Walnut Avenue. There have been several car ... (click for more)

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilman Ledford). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. ... (click for more)

House lawmakers approved State Rep. Esther Helton’s (R-East Ridge) legislation streamlining Greenbelt applications with strong bipartisan support. House Bill 817 makes it permissive for Property ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Dalton Police Department Seeks Suspects In Car Break-Ins

The Dalton Police Department is seeking help from the public to identify two men who broke into three vehicles parked at the Planet Fitness gym on Walnut Avenue. There have been several car break-ins in this parking lot over the past year because people using the gym often leave valuables inside of their cars instead of taking them inside. The suspects in these three break-ins ... (click for more)

Upcoming City Council Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the upcoming City Council agenda for Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilman Ledford). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. Proclamation - “ Healthier Tennessee Communities Week ” By Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod Proclamation - “ Child Abuse Prevention Month: Five Days of Action ” By Chairman Erskine ... (click for more)


Save The Wildlife, Mr. Berke

Why in the world would there be any question regarding the wildlife at East Lake park, and the humane relocation of same? Why would anyone need to beg for the right thing to be done? Maybe if the ducks could ride scooters, there would be money for this. Or maybe if they had means to pay for one of the so-called affordable apartments we have in Chattanooga, they would rate the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What's 'Good' About It?

For the biggest part of my life (a real long time) I refused to acknowledge what is “good” about Good Friday. Today, in literally every country on earth, it is ‘Good Friday’ and, nope, nothing is “good” about killing my Jesus. Forget that it is the most singular display of His love for me, and I push all of the human race aside, to stand completely alone, and feel Jesus’ eyes on ... (click for more)


Softball: Baylor Cools Off Soddy-Daisy, 8-0, In Lady Trojan Invitational

(Story will be updated) The Lady Trojan Invitational began Friday morning in less than ideal weather conditions at Warner Park. Tarps protected the infields of all four diamonds being used, but the outfields were soggy and the warning tracks had the texture of mud pies when heavy rain came back through the area in the third inning. Baylor jumped on host Soddy-Daisy for ... (click for more)

Stanfield's One-Hitter Leads Sale Creek Past Marion

It wasn’t the best of weather conditions, but teams playing in the annual Yellow Jacket Classic at Lookout Valley Elementary School’s O’Mary-Conard Field made the most of their opportunities on a soggy turf. Nothing seemed to bother the Sale Creek Lady Panthers as they began the day with an 11-1 win over Lookout Valley. The winning continued with a 2-0 victory over Marion County ... (click for more)