Strengths and Weaknesses

Lizzette Reynolds plays to her strengths and fails miserably

Around this time last year, Tennessee was preparing to welcome a new Commissioner of Education following the disastrous tenure of Gov. Lee’s first pick for the job, Penny Schwinn.

Lizzette Reynolds came to Tennessee from Texas and bragged about her special abilities in the area of policy implementation and expansion.

Specifically, she noted her focus would be on school funding and expansion of the state’s fledgling voucher program.

These two seemed especially important given Tennessee’s switch to a new school funding formula (TISA) and Gov. Lee’s desire to see his signature policy initiative (school vouchers) be successful.

So, how’s it going?

Not so good, it turns out.

Reynolds accidentally told the truth about school vouchers – that results from the current program are not very positive.

Despite all kinds of end of session histrionics, Gov. Lee and sidekick Texas Liz were unable to convince their fellow Republicans to vote to spend public money supporting unaccountable private schools.

Unlike in previous attempts to privatize (earlier voucher efforts, private toll roads), with Lizzette on the job, Bill Lee failed.

But what about funding? The debate over the move from the BEP to TISA was intense. But, now TISA is the way the state funnels money to schools. How would it go? Would TISA implementation result in an uptick in overall funding for schools? Would Tennessee start to move up in national rankings relative to teacher compensation and overall investment in schools?


On this score, Lizzette quickly continued a Tennessee tradition: Failing to invest in public education.

Tennessee ranks 44th in the nation in average teacher pay – and among the lowest in the Southeast. The state ranks 45th in per pupil spending – again, low even among Southern counterparts.

Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia all pay their teachers more than Tennessee does.

If this is what Reynolds is good at, what are her weaknesses?

One glaring weakness: She’s not qualified for the job.

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Photo by Ronê Ferreira on


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  1. Pingback: Troubled Travel – Tennessee Education Report

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