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Voucher Sharks Are Circling

On Tuesday, the House Education Instruction & Programs committee will consider an additional voucher bill that is broader in scope and more devoid of accountability than any voucher proposal Tennessee has seen before.

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30 Seconds of your time can say NO to this legislation.

House Bill 138 has NO limit on number of vouchers available. NO requirements at all for participating education providers, and NO testing or reporting requirements. An eligible student under this bill is any Tennessee child with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) providing for special education services. Currently, 120,000 students in Tennessee meet that standard. Make no mistake, this vision – over a hundred thousand available vouchers with no meaningful standards or oversight – is not an outlier. It’s the ultimate goal of voucher advocates, and it’s where they hope any voucher law will ultimately take Tennessee.

This bill states that a parent of any child with an IEP, in exchange for a promise to not enroll the child in public school, may have BEP funds deposited into a bank account the parent controls. The parent is to use the funds to educate the child in some fashion, whether by enrolling in private school, purchasing an online learning program, hiring a tutor, or some other means. This bill specifically states that there will be NO regulations or standards applied to a participating educational provider. Private schools accepting this voucher are not required to be accredited or have any operating history. A provider need not actually provide the services called for in the child’s IEP. The bill calls for NO testing or reporting of educational results. ZERO accountability. And this lack of accountability runs counter to all of the laws that have been passed in recent years requiring testing and accountability for our public schools. Why would our legislators allow our tax money to be spent without any accountability, after spending years trying to establish accountability in our schools?

It’s staggering to think of the abuse, waste, and inadequate education that this bill would produce if it becomes law. The proposal is modeled after a similar law in Florida, which has produced rampant fraud and educational malpractice. It’s like a perverse science experiment, using disabled school kids as lab rats and funded by nine figures in taxpayer cash: Dole out millions to anybody calling himself an educator. Don’t regulate curriculum or even visit campuses to see where the money is going.”  [*Disclaimer – this article contains graphic and offensive language and behavior used by the private schools that received taxpayer funds under Florida’s program.]

We need your help TODAY to speak up against this outrageous proposal. Take 30 seconds and CLICK HERE to tell legislators NOT to turn their backs on our students with special needs, and to say NO to opening the door to fraud and misuse of Tennessee education dollars on a monumental scale.

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Speak Up for Adequate School Funding

Art Credit: 123rf stock image

Art Credit: 123rf stock image

Kudos to the local Tennessee boards of education who have finally stepped up to DEMAND that the state make good on its obligation to adequately fund our public schools. Shelby, Knox, and Hamilton counties have all “taken steps toward suing the state over the adequacy of education funding in Tennessee.” If you live in one of these counties, please thank your school board members. If you live in another county, please encourage your school board representative to join in this action.

The next system to consider action is Metro Nashville Public Schools. Amazingly, some in MNPS appear to be resistant to joining a statewide effort to get our students and teachers the resources they need to succeed. On Tuesday, the MNPS board will discuss whether to take action.

If you live in Nashville, it is crucial that you contact the school board NOW to urge them to stand up for our students.

Here’s your handy copy and paste list to email the board and Dr. Register:

jesse.register@mnps.org
gentryfordistrict1@comcast.net
joann.brannon@mnps.org
jill.speering@mnps.org
anna.shepherd@mnps.org
elissa.kim@mnps.org
tyese.hunter@mnps.org
will@pinkstonforschools.com
mary@pierceforschools.org
amy.frogge@mnps.org

The shameful truth is Tennessee consistently ranks 48th or 49th in the nation for school funding. In 2007, our state government created the BEP 2.0, a formula that determines the level of funding the state should provide to school districts. In the seven years BEP 2.0 has been in place, the state has NOT fully funded the BEP 2.0–willfully shirking its responsibility to adequately support our schools. This is an injustice to children across the state and it’s time for Metro Nashville school board representatives to join with their colleagues in Tennessee and fight for the students they were elected to represent.  It’s time we all stand up and demand that our state adequately fund our schools.

Speak up today. Email the school board.

Read about backstory:
http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/04/council-asks-metro-schools-challenge-state-funds/24372679/

TnEdReport Archives on Basic Education Plan Funding Formula

The BEP is the Basic Education Plan which is the state funding formula for public schools. The formula includes a number of components, including funding for teaching and staff positions based on district size as well as allocations for teacher salaries and insurance. It is the mechanism by which the state fulfills its constitutional responsibility to provide a free public education to all Tennessee students.

In collaboration with East Nashville United.