Tennessee PTA Statement

Statement of Tennessee PTA President Kim Henderson:

Tennessee PTA joins with others throughout the nation who are deeply saddened by the continued examples of racism, systemic discrimination and injustice that are present in our society.

We support National PTA president Leslie Boggs who said “This ongoing problem of unequal justice has led to protests across this country and continues to have a profound effect on African Americans and communities of color, who feel hurt, frustrated, angry and afraid. Our nation must do better, and PTA stands with those who peacefully seek to inspire meaningful change…Our transcendent goal has always been to change the lives of children for the better and we will continue to ensure our society values and protects every child. We encourage PTA members and all concerned citizens to speak out and demand that every child be afforded the opportunity to make their potential a reality. Together, we can move above and beyond the perceived division of our diverse experiences and build a shared experience—the experience of working together as human beings, intent on building a better nation and world for our children’s future.”

PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Tennessee PTA stands and advocates for equal opportunities for all children and youth. We work to amplify the voices of those who are too often unheard. It is time for all our members and the communities in Tennessee to participate in honest and open discussions and earnestly listen to those in our communities of color. We must have empathy, examine our own thoughts and feelings and then speak up and work to find ways for improvement which will alleviate injustice, cultural biases and discriminatory practices ensuring a better future for our youth.

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TC and the General Assembly

Nashville education blogger TC Weber takes on the General Assembly and Gov. Bill Lee in his most recent post. Interestingly, he lays out some potential GOP challengers to Lee. Here’s more:

It’s a poorly kept secret that many Republicans are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Governor Lee’s leadership. Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Congressman Mark Green, and former SCORE Executive Director Jamie Woodson are all in various stages of considering a run to challenge Lee in 2022. This comes in spite of Lee maintaining that in house polls show him running with a 64% approval rate.

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TEA Executive Director to Retire

Carolyn Crowder, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Education Association, is set to retire, according to a press release from the organization.

Tennessee Education Association Executive Director Carolyn Crowder is retiring from the association.

“Carolyn spent her career serving students and educators nationwide prior to joining TEA as executive director nearly seven years ago,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “She came on board during a rebuilding time for the association and has been instrumental in leading TEA to year-after-year membership growth during her tenure. Her leadership will be greatly missed by our members and our staff.”

Crowder came to Tennessee from Denver, where she served four years as executive director of the combined Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Denver Association of Education Office Professionals and DCTA-Retired. She previously served as president of the Oklahoma Education Association and as a member of the executive committee of the National Education Association. Crowder began her career in education as a vocal music and elementary teacher in Oklahoma.

“Over the past year, I have found several reasons to embrace the idea of retirement,” Crowder said. “I remember at my first staff meeting, a staff member asked me if I was here to ‘save’ TEA. TEA didn’t need saving. We just needed to roll up our sleeves, learn to fight for our cause a little differently and put our faith in building a member-led organizing culture. It is rewarding to reflect and see so clearly what we’ve been able to accomplish together.” 

The TEA Board of Directors has named Assistant Executive Director Terrance Gibson to serve as interim executive director until Crowder’s replacement is hired later this year.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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30 Years of Lies

A former school superintendent from Ohio exposes 30 years of education policy lies foisted on public schools by policymakers too busy or too self-involved to actually focus on what our kids really need. Here are some highlights:


For at least three decades, politicians have claimed their goal has been to close the achievement gap between children who are successful in school and those who are not, and, by their own admission, their laws haven’t worked. They have failed while wasting billions of our tax dollars.


In the early 1990’s, politicians told us that if they could force all schools to follow the same academic standards, the achievement gap would be eliminated. But, the gap still exists.


Similarly, politicians promised us that forcing kids to take state approved tests, with schools, teachers, and principals being “held accountable” for their students’ performance, the achievement gap would be eliminated. But, the gap still exists.


The public was also assured that if laws were enacted “guaranteeing” that every child must achieve a politically determined level of achievement, all children would be successful. But, the gap still exists.

What are the education policy lies you hear most often?

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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Lee’s Friend DeVos Pitches Failed ESA Scheme

PR Watch has the story of how Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (a long-time associate of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee) pitched Arizona’s Education Savings Account (ESA) scheme at a recent ALEC meeting. The Arizona plan is similar to the one Tennessee’s legislature passed in 2019 at Lee’s request. The vote on the voucher scheme bill is currently under investigation by the FBI. Here’s more on DeVos’s pitch, which appears to have been divorced from reality:


Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held a roundtable on “education freedom” with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) yesterday at the ALEC States and Nation Policy Summit to promote her controversial and costly Education Freedom Scholarships proposal.


DeVos heaped praise on Arizona’s school system at the event, saying, “Arizona is really a leader in giving parents and students the kind of freedom that they need to find their right fit for education. And I’m so grateful for the example that you are setting here,” the Arizona Republic reported.


But Arizona is not a great example when it comes to school performance. The state consistently ranks among the bottom among all states in opportunities and performance and was recently named the worst state to teach in.

Lee appears in some ways to be modeling his education agenda after the failed agenda of AZ Governor Doug Ducey.

It seems he might do well to heed the warning from Arizona when it comes to vouchers:


And later in the afternoon, DeVos told a larger group of attendees, “Arizonans are loving their ESAs,” or Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. But voters rejected a ballot measure to expand the state’s voucher system by a 65-35 percent margin in 2018, so DeVos appears to be misinformed. 

The same type of voucher scheme Lee is now fast-tracking has been devastating to Arizona public schools:


Last year, nearly $200 million which otherwise would have been in the state’s coffers, money which could have been used to boost our shamefully low education budget, is paying for children to go to private schools.

This is what Bill Lee wants for Tennessee. Unabated charter growth. An expansive voucher program that sucks funds from public schools. It’s an agenda that has failed children in state after state. It’s a top priority of Betsy DeVos, ALEC, and other Koch-funded entities.

The good news: There’s a bipartisan effort to repeal the voucher scheme in 2020.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support — $5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

One Dollar

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Tennessee Education Report has nearly 2000 subscribers and over 7500 followers on Twitter.

Since 2013, TN Ed Report has provided insight and analysis on education policy news in Tennessee.

Vouchers. Charters. TNReady. TNNOTReady. Three different Commissioners of Education. Two Governors.

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Vouchers a Taxing Proposition

Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn dropped a bombshell yesterday when she told a legislative committee that the value of a voucher under the state’s new education savings account program would be considered taxable income for the purpose of federal taxes. More from NewsChannel9 in Chattanooga:

Tennessee’s education commissioner says the state’s new school vouchers for private education will be considered federally taxable income for parents.

It was immediately pointed out that low-income families are the least likely to be able to absorb the burden of adding $7300 in taxable income reported to the IRS.

The announcement is the latest in a series of potential problems for Governor Bill Lee’s signature legislative initiative.

Just last week, it was revealed that the Department of Education is spending $2.5 million on a contract with a private firm to manage voucher payments. Not one cent of this money will go toward helping a student access a private school nor will it be paid to any private school. That’s just the administrative cost of managing the payments.

It’s also worth noting that there is an ongoing FBI investigation into both the House vote on the voucher legislation AND the Senate sponsor of the plan.

Oh, and there’s a serious effort to actually repeal the entire voucher scheme.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Team Broad

Jeff Bryant has a great story about the Broad Academy — the story of one billionaire seeking to shape education policy by placing people in key roles. People like Knox County’s Jim McIntyre. Here’s more:


It’s rare when goings-on in Kansas City, Missouri schools make national headlines, but in 2011 the New York Times reported on the sudden departure of the district’s superintendent John Covington, who resigned unexpectedly with only a 30-day notice. The main reason Covington left Kansas City was not because he was pushed out by job stress or an obstinate resistance: He left because a rich man offered him a job. What caused Covington’s exit, Kansas City Star reporter Joe Robertson reported, was “a phone call from Spain.” That call brought a message from billionaire philanthropist and major charter school booster Eli Broad. “John,” Broad reportedly said, “I need you to go to Detroit.” It wasn’t the first time Covington, who was a 2008 graduate of a prestigious training academy funded through Broad’s foundation (the Broad Center), had come into contact with the billionaire’s name and clout. Broad was also the most significant private funder of the new Michigan program he summoned Covington to oversee, providing more than $6 million in funding from 2011 to 2013, according to the Detroit Free Press. But Covington’s story is more than a single instance of a school leader doing a billionaire’s bidding. It sheds light on how decades of a school reform movement, financed by Broad and other philanthropists and embraced by politicians and policymakers of all political stripes, have shaped school leadership nationwide.

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For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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1200

Since 2013, more than 1200 posts have been published on Tennessee Education Report. This publication passed the 1200 post milestone late last week. The original idea: To provide in-depth coverage of education issues and accessible analysis of complex topics is still the driving force today.

So often, headlines in traditional news outlets tout test results or talking points rather than digging-in to the meat of education policy. As the publisher and primary writer here, I make every effort to offer unique analysis in a way that is digestible.

I’ve written about the NAEP and explained where Tennessee really stands.

I’ve written about Kindergarten portfolios and state policy failure.

Closeup portrait Angry young Boy, Blowing Steam coming out of ears, about have Nervous atomic breakdown, isolated grey background. Negative human emotions, Facial Expression, feeling attitude reaction

I’ve written about the efforts of privatizers like Betsy DeVos and Bill Lee.

I’ve written about the broken BEP and what it means for Tennessee students.

I’ve examined teacher pay, especially in and around Nashville.

Recently, I wrote a post on the importance of addressing poverty.

And, of course, there’s the ongoing TNReady saga.

All of this is fun for me, believe it or not. But it also takes time and energy and research.

Thankfully, a number of readers have stepped up to make monthly contributions to ensure publishing the site is a viable enterprise.

Still others make one-time gifts to show support.

Know that I write with the intent to inform… and to go deeper on a an issue that impacts every single Tennessean. Know that I appreciate ALL of you who read regularly and share these posts.

Education in Tennessee will only improve WHEN we ask the tough questions and challenge the prevailing paradigm.

Your support makes that possible.

Thank you!

Let Me Hear You Scream

Nashville education blogger TC Weber is not amused. In fact, you can probably hear the screaming in his latest post. In it, he takes on a range of issues — charter schools, teaching reading, school discipline policies — and makes the case that all the shiny new objects are just a way to avoid the tough conversations adults in comfortable places don’t seem to want to have.

Here are some highlights:


As a result, we had a crisis on our hands, “According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than six in 10 fourth-graders aren’t proficient readers. It has been this way since testing began. A third of kids can’t read at a basic level.” 


I don’t want to get sidetracked, or this will turn into a 4000-word piece, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out who said it – National Assessment of Educational Progress – and what they said – It has been this way since testing began – nothing quite justifies one’s existence like the discovering of a crisis. Just think, if testing hadn’t started, we’d be wandering in the desert with no idea if kids could read or not.

On teaching reading:


Yet phonics disciples would have me believe that if we would just focus on using methods of teaching that aligned with science, we’d overcome all those social issues impacting students. Kids would suddenly start saying things in class like,


“Mrs. Johnson I used to be hungry in the morning when I came to class, but now that you are using phonics, I don’t feel hungry anymore.”


“Mr. Jones, my parents arguing and general drunken behavior used to keep me up all night, but now I go to sleep at night with the sounds of phonics in my head and I don’t even hear them anymore.”

The impact of poverty:


If you have doubts about what I’m saying when it comes to poverty’s impact on student outcomes, call me next time you have a job interview. We won’t feed you for 12 hours beforehand and I’ll keep you awake all night before your interview. We’ll see if you get the job.

There’s more — it’s intense, but worth a read.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee,                                follow @TNEdReport

Your support$3 or $5 today — helps make publishing education news possible.