The Not So Super Hero

What if there was a political action committee with a relentless focus on what is good for kids? What if that PAC helped advance the education debate by focusing on the most pressing needs in our public schools? That sounds great, right? Well, instead, Tennessee is home to Team Kid PAC – a project of Tennesseans for Student Success. Sure, their Twitter avi is a super hero in a cape. But, their goals and objectives are anything but super. Instead of pushing for improved school funding or focusing on holding Gov. Lee accountable as he revamps the BEP, Team Kid PAC is all aboard the privatization express.

Here’s a seemingly innocuous tweet:

Sure, Chalkbeat is great and the TN Education Research Alliance is fine, but they’re clearly pushing out support for privatization groups.

And yeah, their Twitter account only has ten followers right now. But, the larger point is 2022 is an election year. It is very likely Team Kid PAC will be sending out mailers and making donations to candidates who support privatizing our public schools. So, it is important to understand their ultimate goal – school privatization.

So, it’s pretty clear Tennessee First is the vehicle of choice used by payday predators to distribute campaign cash. Who else funds the debt trap lending PAC? Well, $5000 came from a group called Tennesseans for Student Success. That’s the same group involved in at least one Nashville School Board race as well as a primary challenge to incumbent House member and public school advocate Mike Stewart.

Team Kid PAC – pro-privatization and tied to the payday loan industry. Not exactly super.

brave doctor in flying superhero cape with fist stretched
Photo by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels.com

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

Thanks for your supportjust $5 (or more) makes publishing education news possible.

A Message for Joe Biden

From the Network for Public Education:

The promises made by the Biden campaign drew support from public education advocates across the nation. From those promises, we identified five K-12 priorities that must be kept at the forefront. Whomever the President-elect chooses to lead the Department of Education must be committed to those priorities as well.

Send your email to the Biden team and tell them pro-public education promises must be met.

Here are those five priorities:

Rebuild our nation’s public schools, which have been battered by the pandemic, two decades of failed federal policy, and years of financial neglect.

Reject efforts to privatize public schools, whether those efforts be via vouchers or charter schools.

End the era of high-stakes standardized testing–in both the immediate future and beyond.

Promote diversity, desegregation (both among and within schools), and commit to eliminating institutional racism in school policy and practices.

Promote educational practices that are child-centered, inquiry-based, intellectually challenging, culturally responsive, and respectful of all students’ innate capacities and potential to thrive.

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

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

Donate Button

Elections and Education

Former Nashville School Board member Amy Frogge offers her take on recent election results around the state and what they mean for education policy.

It’s been a rough week for public education in Tennessee. Here in Nashville, John Little, a political operative paid by charter school interests, was elected to the school board. Funded by wealthy (white) elites seeking to profit off public schools, Little has used aggressive and underhanded smear tactics to “disrupt” school board meetings and legislative hearings for many years now. He considers school board work “political theater” (his words), which has been obvious from his tactics.

In Williamson County, former Speaker of the House Glen Casada, who used questionable tactics to pass Tennessee’s most recent unconstitutional voucher law, was reelected to the state legislature. He was accused of offering incentives to lawmakers to vote in favor of vouchers, which resulted in an FBI investigation of the voucher vote. Casada stepped down as Speaker after only months in the position when confronted by a scandal involving racist and sexist text messages that embroiled him and his staff.

In Knoxville, two voucher proponents are heading to the state House of Representatives. Rep. Jason Zachary, who was responsible for the new unconstitutional voucher law last year, flipped his vote only after Casada held the clock open for 40 minutes and allegedly offered bribes for the vote. Nevertheless, he was reelected. Voucher proponent Michele Carringer was elected to fill the seat left open by departing representative Bill Dunn, an ardent voucher advocate in the legislature for many years. Dunn has now been asked by Governor Lee to join the floundering Tennessee Department of Education.

However, there is hope. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the most disliked current cabinet leader and perhaps the most despised education leader in U.S. history, will be gone in January. DeVos has consistently diverted public school funding to private schools. The national mood around “school reform” (i.e., school privatization, aka “school choice”) is rapidly changing, and President-elect Joe Biden has promised to name a teacher as Secretary of Education. Fingers crossed that we will not backtrack as a country to the low quality of former appointees under the last several presidents. We have real work to do in Tennessee, but perhaps changes at the top will make their way down to our state.

Former State Rep. Bill Dunn, now an education adviser to Gov. Lee

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

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

Donate Button

Policy of Truth

State Senate candidate Ronnie Glynn is holding incumbent Bill Powers accountable for his votes on public education in the 22nd district race. Specifically, Glynn notes in a recent tweet that Powers voted to cut funding to public schools while voting in favor of tax cuts for corporations that donated to his campaign.

It’s worth noting that Powers has a record of selling out public schools in favor of privatization. He also has an aversion to telling the truth. While campaigning for the Senate seat in 2019, Powers assured voters he would oppose private school voucher schemes. Then, less than three hours after being sworn-in, Powers voted in favor of Gov. Bill Lee’s education savings account voucher plan.

During the campaign, Powers promised he’d be against vouchers if elected. The race, decided by around 1000 votes, was relatively close. It’s possible if he’d said he supported vouchers, he would have lost the race.

While new to the body, he’s apparently not new to the art of creative deception. The very first bill Powers voted on was Governor Bill Lee’s voucher proposal. How did Powers vote? He voted YES.

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

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

Donate Button

The Candidates

Yesterday, MNPS school board members Amy Frogge and Jill Speering announced they would not seek re-election. In 2019, Will Pinkston left the board, replaced by Freda Player-Peters. Now, there’s an election for some school board seats coming up in August. Here are the candidates:

District 1

Barry Barlow

Tiffany Degrafinreid

Sharon Gentry

Robert Taylor

District 3

Brian Hubert

Emily Masters

District 5

Christiane Buggs

District 7

Freda Player-Peters

District 9

Russelle Ann Bradbury

Abigail Tylor

Here are a couple of candidate tweets:

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

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

Donate Button

The Ghost of Big Mac

As races for Knox County School Board come into focus, the ghost of former Director of Schools Jim McIntyre (Big Mac) looms large. Betty Bean has more in KnoxToday:


Four years ago this week, Knox County Schools Superintendent James McIntyre called a press conference and announced his resignation. The first reaction was shock: who walks away from a $227,256 a year job? Then he answered the question himself:

A superintendent who can count to five.


“The current political environment has become increasingly dysfunctional… The focus of the conversation has all too often become about me… There is a new school board essentially coming in on Sept. 1. There will be several new members,” McIntyre said. “The new school board deserves to choose the leader that they want to have in place.”

Bean details the impact of McIntyre’s tenure on the board and political climate and notes there are at least rumors of an attempted Big Mac Attack that would result in the former director returning to his old post.

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

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

TC Talks Nashville Mayor’s Race

Nashville education blogger TC Weber focuses on the Mayor’s race in his latest post. Here are some of his observations:

How did you spend your weekend? If you were one of roughly 300 teachers and parents in Nashville you met downtown at Third and Lindsey and then marched to the Howard School Building to cast your early vote for State Representative John Ray Clemmons to become the next Mayor of Nashville.

Regarding momentum building for state representative John Ray Clemmons:


The news out of last week’s forum held by the Panhellenic Society, Urban League of Middle Tennessee, NAACP Nashville, and Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship indicates that it is a distinct possibility.
Per the Tennessee Tribune,
At the end of the forum, all of the attendees were asked to vote in a straw poll for no more than two candidates vying for Mayor in the August 1 election. Clemmons decisively won the crowd of nearly 300, gaining 46% of the vote. John Cooper came in second with 26%, with David Briley close behind at 25%. Carol Swain suffered a decisive fourth place with 3% of the attendee’s vote. 

READ MORE from TC Weber about education in Nashville.

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

Your investment makes reporting education news possible.

Fiscus Set to Challenge Casada

Williamson County School Board member Brad Fiscus plans to challenge state representative and outgoing House Speaker Glen Casada in the 2020 elections, the Tennessean reports:

Williamson County Board of Education member Brad Fiscus, 4th District, confirmed on Monday he plans to pull a petition to run against embattled lawmaker Rep. Glen Casada, 63rd District, in the 2020 state House election. 

Fiscus, a 22-year resident of Williamson County, was elected as a school board member in 2018 and serves as a director of Next Gen Discipleship ministry as part of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Fiscus was also heavily involved in Pastors for Tennessee Children, a faith-based advocacy group dedicated to supporting public schools. In his role with the organization, he was a leader in opposing the school voucher scheme that ultimately passed the House under Casada’s leadership.

Fiscus will make the challenge to Casada as Independent.

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

Your support makes publishing education news possible.

Clemmons: The Education Mayor

The Tennessee Tribune has the story of how State Representative John Ray Clemmons is positioning himself to be Nashville’s “Education Mayor.”

Last Saturday, State Representative John Ray Clemmons, candidate for mayor of Nashville,
hosted an Educators VOTE Rally and March to the Polls with members of the MNEA union and fellow MNEA-endorsed candidates. Starting at 3rd and Lindsley, Amanda Kail, president of MNEA, greeted the crowd before introducing Representative Clemmons. “We endorsed John Ray because of his commitment to our schools and our children. He’s the only candidate with kids in public schools, and he’s the only candidate who’s committed to supporting us,” Kail said.

Rep. Clemmons took the stage with thunderous applause from over 200 educators in the room. Once reaching the stage, Clemmons invited all the children in the room to join him on stage. Wearing red, in solidarity with the educators in the room, Clemmons showed his support for Nashville’s educators and shared his plans for increasing the quality of public schools in the city.

Clemmons has been endorsed by MNEA — the Nashville union representing teachers and enjoys the support of more than 100 teachers and supporters of public schools who signed an OpEd written by teacher and blogger Mary Holden.

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

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