Members of the Tennessee Public Education Coalition spoke out in opposition to Gov. Bill Lee’s education agenda which includes sending public money to private schools by way of school vouchers and charters.
In an OpEd, the group said:
We have a clear choice in Tennessee. We can choose to adequately fund our public schools, pay our teachers a fair wage, and support our neighborhood schools — or we can choose grift.
Here are some of the examples offered by the group to demonstrate the danger of rapid expansion of charter schools:
- Memphis Academy of Health Sciences closed, displacing 750 students, after three leaders were indicted for stealing $400,000 for personal use – for trips to Las Vegas, a hot tub, NBA tickets, and auto repair.
- New Vision Academy in Nashville shut down after state and federal investigation into financial irregularities, failure to comply with federal laws concerning special needs students and English language learners, and cramming too many children into classrooms in violation of the fire code. The husband/wife team leading the school of 150 students earned $563,000 per year.
- Gateway University Charter School in Memphis shut down after it was accused of falsifying grades, using uncertified teachers, giving credits for a geometry class that didn’t exist, and pulling children out of classes to clean the school’s bathrooms and other areas.
- Knowledge Academies in Nashville lost hundreds of thousands of tax dollars in an online phishing scheme (after which its founder and CEO suddenly disappeared); used uncertified teachers; understaffed the school and stopped paying teachers; operated with a deficit of $835,878, despite an annual revenue of $7.1 million; failed to meet federal requirements for English language learners and special needs students; and ran side businesses out of the school building. Nashville shut the school down, but the state forced it back open. It’s now operating with a $7.9 million deficit.
- Nashville Global Academy forgot a child on a bus parked offsite all day, misappropriated funds to the tune of $149,000, and collapsed over $400,000 in debt with unpaid bills worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
READ MORE from Tennessee Public Education Coalition on Lee’s efforts to privatize our state’s public schools.
Of course, Lee has some powerful (and wealthy) friends pushing privatization:
And, TC Weber has some pretty solid analysis about why the scheme offered by Lee will lead to vouchers and school district takeovers:
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
Your support – $3 or more – makes publishing education news possible.