Vouchers vs. Teachers

Lawmakers reject additional investment in teacher pay

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee rejected a move that would have invested the $140 million+ allocated for Gov. Lee’s voucher scheme into an increase in teacher pay.

Sen. London Lamar proposed the budget amendment – suggesting moving money from a voucher plan that is unlikely to gain approval this session into additional investment in public schools.

“This amendment would take the K-12 education funding set aside for Gov. Lee’s school voucher program and reassign it to the K-12 student funding formula,” said Sen. Lamar. “There are so many needs our public school system has that this voucher money could be used for — one of which being teacher raises.”

The proposal failed on a party-line vote, with all nine Republicans on Senate Finance opposing the move.

crop man getting dollars from wallet
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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Throwin’ It All Away

Pro-voucher lawmaker wants to “blow-up” state’s “terrible” school system

Rep. Scott Cepicky made it clear that the motive behind Gov. Bill Lee’s signature public policy initiative, school vouchers, is tearing down the state’s public school system.

Nashville’s NewsChannel5 has more on Cepicky’s revelation:

The lead sponsor pushing school vouchers in the Tennessee state House says his goal with Tennessee’s public education system is to “throw the whole freaking system in the trash,” according to a recording obtained by NewsChannel 5.

Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, whose children attend a private religious school in Columbia, said he believes that “blow[ing] it all back up” is the only way to “fix” the state’s public schools, which he describes as “terrible.”

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Gov. Bill Lee promoting school privatization

Mobley Opposes Arming Teachers

School Board candidate speaks out against state legislation

Williamson County School Board candidate Elmer Mobley says he opposes legislative efforts that would allow some teachers to carry firearms while at school.

“SB1325 and HB1202 overlook evidence-based solutions to school safety while promoting a culture of fear and militarization,” Mobley stated. “Teachers are not trained law enforcement officers. Expecting them to handle firearms in high-stress situations without adequate training increases the potential for accidents, misuse, and escalation of violence. Even with extensive training, accidents can happen. A loaded firearm in a classroom increases the risk of accidental discharge and the potential of injuring or killing students or staff.”

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Candidates Unite in Opposition to Vouchers

Urging Lee to Reject School Voucher Expansion

TN Senate Approves Legislation Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns

Moves state one step closer to armed teachers in classrooms

The Tennessee State Senate approved by a vote of 26-5 legislation that would allow some teachers to carry guns in schools.

WSMV in Nashville has more:

A bill that would allow teachers to carry a concealed gun on campus and school property is moving through the Tennessee General Assembly.

It passed on the Senate floor on Tuesday with 26 votes for and five votes against. On Thursday, it was held on the House’s desk.

If passed, this bill would allow school staff members to carry a concealed gun upon completing training, background checks and a psychological evaluation. Substitute teachers or part-time employees cannot participate.

It’s not yet clear whether the House will move the legislation forward. Should the House pass the legislation, it would go to Gov. Lee for his signature.

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Comedy of Errors

Lizzette Reynolds’ tenure as Commissioner of Education marked with many mistakes

Tennessee’s Education Commissioner is having a rough go.

From not having the required teaching credentials when she started the job to getting caught claiming a tuition waiver she didn’t qualify for to some seriously disastrous legislative hearings, Reynolds is struggling.

Fox 17 reports on the latest:

What signal does it send that the governor is willing to hire somebody who is completely unqualified, who would misrepresent something on a state application and seek a tuition waiver from a state university just to get on the job training. This is all completely humiliating,” Representative Clemmons emphasized.

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Lakeland Makes Money Moves

District boosts teacher pay, new starting pay is $50,000/year

The Lakeland School District is investing in teachers.

This week, the district announced plans to move starting teacher pay to $50,000 and adjust the pay scale for all teachers accordingly.

Effectively, the plan moves every teacher up four spots on the pay scale.

This will mean raises of between $3000-$5000 for all teachers in the system.

Teacher pay matters. Investing in the people who have direct contact with students is a direct investment in student success.

When teachers get paid more, students do better. In one study, a 10% increase in teacher pay was estimated to produce a 5 to 10% increase in student performance. Teacher pay also has long-term benefits for students. A 10% increase in per-pupil spending for each of the 12 years of education results in students completing more education, having 7% higher wages, and having a reduced rate of adult poverty. These benefits are even greater for families who are in poverty.

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They Don’t Trust Vouchers

Ed Trust speaks out against Bill Lee’s voucher scheme

The Education Trust of Tennessee is out with a statement opposing Gov. Lee’s school voucher scheme.

While there are key differences between the voucher expansion bills sponsored by Rep. Lamberth and Senator Johnson respectively (HB1183/SB503), The Education Trust—Tennessee stands in opposition to both versions. Our concerns with universal vouchers include, but are not limited to, their negative fiscal impact on public schools, the lack of civil rights protections for students, the lack transparency and accountability on their effectiveness, and the well-documented negative impact of vouchers on student achievement.

They also sent a letter to Members of the General Assembly detailing their opposition.

Speaking of vouchers and their impact on student achievement:

Voucher studies of statewide programs in Ohio, Louisiana, and Indiana all suggest that not only do vouchers not improve student achievement, they in fact cause student performance to decline.

Gov. Bill Lee promoting school privatization

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The Long Goodbye

Will the ASD finally close its doors?

Peter Greene offers hope in his latest piece that Tennessee’s failed Achievement School District may finally close.

For over a decade, Tennessee has been home to an ambitious plan for turning around low-achieving schools. Now Chalkbeat reports that state leaders are ready to shut down this failed experiment.

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TN Lawmakers Could Cancel School Lunch Debt

But that’s not on the agenda

Tweet from TN Holler

As lawmakers continue maneuvering to secure passage of legislation that would transfer hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private schools, they also continue ignoring a glaring need.

School lunch debt.

According to a recent article in Salon, students in K-12 public schools in Tennessee owe a total of more than $50 million in school lunch debt.

“. . . according to 2024 statistics from the Education Data Center, on a state-level, Tennessee has $51,610,062 in student lunch debt and about 285,770 food insecure students.”

If we have $144 million for school vouchers, we have $50 million to cancel school lunch debt.

The total projected cost of the voucher program at full implementation is in excess of $700 million a year.

You know what else would cost just over $700 million a year?

Providing free breakfast and lunch to all Tennessee K-12 students every day.

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Board Room Makeover

Bill Lee replaces entire TSU Board of Trustees

Gov. Bill Lee has completed his planned takeover of the Tennessee’s only state-supported HBCU, Tennessee State University.

His new Board of Trustees appointees include:

  • Trevia ChatmanPresident, Bank of America Memphis
  • Jeffery NorfleetProvost and Vice President for Administration, Shorter College
  • Marquita QuallsFounder and Principal, Entropia Consulting
  • Terica SmithDeputy Mayor and Director of Human Resources, Madison County
  • Charles TraughberGeneral Counsel, Division of Real Estate, Retail, and Financial Services at Bridgestone Americas
  • Dwayne Tucker, CEO of LEAD Public Schools
  • Kevin WilliamsPresident and CEO of GAA Manufacturing
  • Dakasha WintonSenior Vice President and Chief Government Relations Officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

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