ALEC not Welcome Here! Rally Organized by the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle TN -at Cumberland River Park Thursday, December 7 at 4:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Go Ahead. Click the spreadsheets first.
The “Ever-Expanding Universe of Vouchers” was a blog post https://treetn.org/expanding-vouche… TREE did last year warning Tennessee about school voucher intentions. In that blog we stated, “Voucher supporters, along with money from outside interests, will stop at nothing to expand voucher programs in Tennessee, effectively creating a privatized black hole for taxpayer dollars. Tennessee ranks 47th in funding for public education, leaving schools to tread water while legislators look for ways to fund private schools.” And where are we AGAIN this year? Fighting back multiple attempts to expand public school vouchers.
One bill will expand the TN IEP voucher. Only 38 out of 20k qualifying families bothered to sign up for the current version of this voucher. But, it is not about what families want. It is about expanding. This new version wants to qualify more disabilities to wave their IDEA rights and take the money even though we have no idea if the pilot works. This IEP expansion is modeled after Arizona. The Arizona Legislature created its ESA program in 2011 for special-needs students and has since expanded it to allow children from poor-performing schools, from military families, and others. Watch for this pattern in Tennessee. It is all intentional.
MEMPHIS IS THE TARGET
The other voucher bill (HB126) left progressing through committee is squarely and unfairly aimed at Memphis as a pilot. And Memphis parents, school boards, and elected officials have not been silent in their objection. Here is what we know about urban pilots. Every time a voucher starts as an urban pilot for a small number of students, it expands across the state. Flashback to charter schools as an urban pilot solution. And now several rural districts are seeing charter school intent letters. The playbook is followed in every state where privatized solutions proliferate. Vouchers will not stop at a pilot. Isn’t the point of a pilot to see if something works? The word pilot is a sham. We don’t even know if the IEP disability pilot is working and it is already expanding.
This Memphis pilot bill is stuck on whether it will even use the TNReady to see if the pilot works. How is that fair? How do you show a voucher pilot improves educational outcomes for children if they don’t take TNReady?
THANK YOU COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Concerns are growing fast as the County Commissioners Association published a spreadsheet (shown above) that TREE obtained via email, sent to Association members outlining a rough idea, county by county illustrating “[H]ow a k-12 voucher program might impact county budgets, particularly if you compare revenue lost when a student transfers out of a school district and into a private school. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6… ) The chart shows the amount of county property tax needed to offset a 10-percent decrease in student population. [The Association] research has cross-checked many of the systems and, for the most part, it appears to be accurate. ” Of note: Carroll County sets its districts differently, so the formula used does not translate for that county.
The property tax increases to offset vouchers seen on the spreadsheet is not something any county commissioner wants to pass on to property owners. Lauderdale County loses the most with an 84.23 cent increase per year. Davidson is looking at a 30.36 cent increase. The Tennessee Ed Report did a post that outlined skyrocketing taxes in Indiana and some potential scenarios for Tennessee. http://tnedreport.com/2017/03/the-v…
School vouchers become a parallel school system to fund. One Tennessee cannot afford.
Parents feel vouchers are an empty promise. Study after study show they do not work to increase achievement. https://www.brookings.edu/research/… Without transportation and the ability to cover all the extras, a voucher is not really in reach of most public school families. The private schools most familiar won’t be taking vouchers. And in the end, voucher school choice is the choice of the private school to accept a student and to keep a student. It opens the door to discriminatory practices that leave Shelby County parents in doubt this is little more than a religious school subsidy with tax dollars that experiments on their children.
Our government needs to invest in neighborhood schools, invest in RTi2 small intervention classes, time with a teacher, community schools coordinators to coordinate wrap-around services and discipline supports. Fund opportunities to engage in learning. Not siphon off public dollars into private, unregulated hands. We must support Shelby County Schools, not public money for vouchers. Former Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey confirmed that he supported intentions to expand the program statewide when he recently spoke to a group of Shelby County Republicans in Bartlett. These pilots are nothing more than seeds for state voucher program growth and higher taxes.
Please CALL AND write the Finance Sub-Committee. Ask them to vote NO on school vouchers. Thank them for their service and especially thank them if they are a NO vote. The Memphis pilot voucher bill will be heard in finance subcommittee next. Please tell them not to fall for this scheme to destroy our public school system and raise our property taxes.
House Finance Subcommittee 2017:
Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland): 615/741-1350 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis): 615/741-1898 email@example.com
Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett): 615/741-8201 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley): 615/741-2134 email@example.com
Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville): 615/741-7482 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain): 615/741-2746 email@example.com
Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville): 615/741-7480 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr. (D-Nashville): 615/741-3831 email@example.com
Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga): 615/741-2548 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads): 615/741-0750 email@example.com
Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin): 615/741-6808 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville): 615/741-1875 email@example.com
Supporters of public education, it’s time to speak up and urge your legislator to say NO to the voucher schemes currently making their way through the Tennessee legislature. Vouchers take money away from our already underfunded public schools, and they will mean cuts to services and programs provided to our public school students. Vouchers have been proven to NOT be a good investment, and do not raise student achievement. Tennessee cannot afford to chase after failed ideas! READ ABOUT THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS.
Please call your state representative to ask him or her to VOTE NO on ALL voucher legislation. If you aren’t sure who your legislator is, you can find out by entering your address here: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/
The site will give you the office phone number and email address to use to contact your legislators. Calling is easy! Just tell the staffer who answers that you are a constituent calling to ask your representative to VOTE NO on ALL voucher legislation being considered, and that you want your representative to stand up for public schools. It’s quick, painless, and lawmakers will listen when many of their constituents take the time to make this easy phone call. If you call after hours, you can leave a voice mail message. You don’t have to be a policy expert, your voice counts and a simple message is great!
For more information on the voucher legislation currently being considered by the legislature, check out these helpful links:
The 110th Tennessee General Assembly is underway in Nashville and, yes, Betsy DeVos is our new Federal Secretary of Education. Please, we need your voice now more than ever to stop the DeVos-style attacks on our public schools. Your amazing action needs to go local!
WHO TO KNOW – YOUR NEW EDU COMMITTEES
Make note if your representative is on an education committee. If you see your representative on this list or if they are sponsoring a bill, you will be a big help reaching out directly to your representative and explaining how bills can impact your children and/or your classroom.
Education Administration and Planning (**Sub-committee)
Harry Brooks, Chair
Eddie Smith, Vice-Chair **
John DeBerry **
Johnnie Turner **
Terri Lynn Weaver
Dawn White **
Mark White ** sub committee chair
Education Instruction and Programs (**Sub-committee)
Two big voucher proposals have already been filed this year, to divert public money away from public schools. The first is SB161/HB126 Kelsey/H.Brooks, which targets Shelby County Schools. The second is HB 336, essentially a rehash of the voucher legislation that was stalled last year. More specifics on these proposals will be coming soon, but the bottom line remains the same – Voucher schemes reduce the funding for public schools that serve our most vulnerable children, are proven not to increase student achievement, and open the door to various types of scams and fraud. Vouchers have been stopped in Tennessee before, we can stop them again!
A-F GRADING SCHOOLS
A new state accountability system, that assigns schools a letter grade from A through F, is planned next school year based on this year’s test scores. This type of over-simplistic rating system only reinforces a myopic obsession with test scores to fuel the “failing schools” narrative. Several school systems are already taking issue with this new law passed last year. Collierville Williamson County Ripley Knox County Schools
House Finance Chair Charles Sargent and Governor Haslam will each be putting forth legislation that aims to increase school funding. A close look at these proposals will be coming soon.
Our Anti-Voucher Day on the Hill went well this Tuesday. Thank you to those who stopped by and took the time to say no to draining public school funds through vouchers. Still want to help? Download our talking points and use them to write a letter, send an email or make a phone call. TREE VoucherTalkpoints2017
Thank you Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA) and Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCM) for teaming up to host the screening of the movie “STANDARDIZED Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Education”. The movie ended with a panel discussion. Watch the trailer and find out more. We plan on partnering again for more documentary screenings on education reform. Stay tuned.
PLEASE SUPPORT OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS in 2017. They Need You Now More Than Ever. You make a difference when you speak out, share information and show you care about our public schools. Get ready to make a lot of phone calls and send a lot of letters and emails. Let’s support for our children. Thank you.