Persistent poverty plagues districts
Education blogger TC Weber joined the Tennessee Department of Education’s update to the State Board of Education on the state’s new funding formula (TISA). He filed this report with the Tennessee Star.
Here’s the part I found quite interesting:
Department data indicates that 648,000 students attend a school where 40 percent or more live in poverty.
That’s roughly 2/3 of all students.
The good news: The districts responsible for educating those students will receive a bump in funding under TISA.
The challenge: Tennessee has known about the high concentration of poverty for decades now.
It’s nice to see some bonus funding going to these districts (although BEP also had an input for poverty).
What’s not clear is what’s changing to address the systemic poverty that persists.
Tennessee policymakers could take action to address the challenges posed by entrenched poverty.
For example, the state could provide free breakfast and lunch to ALL students in the state for about $700 million.
Given that we continue to have annual budget surpluses topping $2 billion, this seems like an easy ask.
Feed all kids who come to school, no questions asked.
The state could also expand Medicaid to ensure that more families have access to healthcare.
In terms of education dollars, perhaps instead of investing $132 million in Pearson’s standardized tests, we could allocate those dollars to students in high poverty schools.
For the two thirds of students attending high poverty schools, the state must look like the banker from Monopoly – consistently collecting excess revenue while those students and their families have to wait for crumbs from the table.
Tennessee continues to find new ways to measure and assess the fact that our students face challenges from poverty and then consistently finds ways to offer solutions that do nothing to change that fact.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @tnedreport