Nashville education blogger TC Weber has a couple of pieces out that break down Gov. Lee’s proposed school funding reform.
The bottom line: Be afraid, be very afraid.
I mean, if you like using public money to fund private schools OR if you’re a fan of the state taking over districts, this funding scheme is for you.
Here are a couple hits from TC’s analysis:
While we are on the subject of the funding bill, let’s flip to section 66. This is the portion of the bill that lists amendments to existing legislation. It reads as follows,
SECTION 66. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-10-1405(a)(1), is amended by deleting the language “the per-pupil state and local funds generated and required through the basic education program (BEP) for the LEA in which the student resides and is zoned to attend” and substituting “the total funding allocation that the student generates under the Tennessee investment in student achievement formula (TISA)”.
Did you get that?
Read it again.
Under current legislation, a student who qualifies for an IEA, or disability voucher receives around 6k to use for qualified expenses. It’s long been argued more students haven’t taken advantage of the education account opportunity, because the number is too low to make an adequate investment in a different educational opportunity.
If the new law passes, that student will receive exactly the amount generated through the funding formula, potentially making a voucher worth $16k. If you think that won’t increase enrollment and eventually bleed into a full-blown voucher plan, think again.
So, it turns out Mike Stein was right to warn about a BEP Voucher Plan.
READ MORE from TC on the funding formula and vouchers >
Then, TC digs into the section in the reform bill about school takeovers:
(c) An LEA that operates or authorizes a public school that receives a D or F letter grade pursuant to § 49-1-228 may be required to appear for a hearing before an ad hoc joint committee of the general assembly to report on the public school’s performance and how the LEA’s spending decisions may have affected the ability of the LEA’s public schools to achieve certain performance goals. The speakers of the senate and house of representatives shall each appoint members to serve on the joint ad hoc committee from the members of the general assembly serving on the education or finance committees of the senate and house of representatives. At the conclusion of a hearing conducted pursuant to this subsection (c), the joint ad hoc committee may direct the department to impose one (1) of the following corrective actions:
(1) Require the LEA or public charter school to develop, submit to the department for approval, and implement a corrective action plan consistent with a corrective action plan template developed by the department. The department shall report to the committee regarding the LEA’s or public charter school’s implementation of the corrective action plan; or
(2) Appoint an inspector general selected by the comptroller of the treasury to oversee the LEA’s or public charter school’s academic programming and spending. The department shall report to the committee regarding the outcomes of the inspector general’s oversight. The department shall promulgate rules to effectuate this subdivision (c)(2) in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.(d) The department shall apportion the costs of implementing a corrective action imposed pursuant to subdivision (c)(2) between the department and the LEA on a case-by-case basis, subject to the approval of the joint ad hoc committee.
The desire for the state to takeover MNPS and SCS has long been the worst kept secret in town. This bill will provide the vehicle to take such action.
Never mind that the General Assembly passed legislation over half a decade ago that called for the creation of the A-F grading system, it’s never been implemented. as pointed out last year on the Senate floor. Now it’s suddenly going to be implemented and its first year out of the box it’ll have potentially dire consequences for districts.
MORE on ALL the requirements for districts included in the reform plan.
Then, there’s former Nashville school board member Amy Frogge. She also warns that the funding package may not be all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, it seems highly problematic for the future of K-12 public education in our state.
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