$3 Billion

Tennessee consistently receives low grades when it comes to investment in public education. Year after year, Tennessee ranks between 44th-46th in total investment in schools and our state also typically earns among the lowest grades in the nation when it comes to funding effort.

I mean, our neighbors in Kentucky far outpace us when it comes to investment in schools – and, this investment gets results when it comes to student achievement.

Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown points out the significance of this disparity in a recent email to educators. In it, she notes:

“It’s not about how the funds are divided, it’s about how many state dollars are put into education,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “To get to the Kentucky level of school funding, Tennessee needs $3 billion added to the state education budget.”

That’s just embarrassing. Here’s the thing: Tennessee can afford to do much better. In fact, we have a huge surplus. This means we can invest in schools without raising taxes. A boost of billions of dollars in state money for public schools would also have the benefit of helping to keep local property taxes low.

As the BEP reform discussion heats up, remember that any reform that fails to include significant new funding – in the billions of dollars – is not going to make a serious change in education in our state. We’re at least $1.7 billion behind where we should be according to state analysts. We’re $3 billion behind Kentucky. The overall formula is not the real problem – a huge lack of investment is the real problem.

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