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Former Teach For America leader appointed to State Board of Education

The State Capitol in Nashville is home to the the governor’s office and Tennessee General Assembly.
The State Capitol in Nashville is home to the the governor's office and Tennessee General Assembly.
Chalkbeat/Marta W. Aldrich

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Teach For America’s former national vice president for recruitment to the State Board of Education, a board spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Elissa Kim
Elissa Kim

Elissa Kim will replace vice-chairwoman Carolyn Pearre, who represents Tennessee’s 5th congressional district, including Davidson, Cheatham and Dickson counties.

Kim joined Teach For America’s staff in 1999 after serving as a teacher corps member in New Orleans. She oversaw recruitment for the organization until 2015.

She also served a term on the school board for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, choosing not to seek reelection in 2016.

On the school board, Kim occasionally came under fire for her ties to Teach For America. Critics said her role with the organization posed a conflict of interest on votes regarding the approval of charter schools that promised to contract with Teach For America. Charters have been a deeply divisive issue within the board, and Kim said she tried to go down the middle, according to her 2013 interview with the Nashville Scene. She recused herself from voting on the district’s contract with TFA.

Kim is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she majored in history and religion.

Haslam also recently appointed Tiffany Cook as the student member of the State Board of Education. Cook attends Cherokee High School in Hawkins County.

The State Board sets education policy for Tennessee according to recommendations from the State Department of Education and legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly. The board has nine members who serve five-year terms.

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