In an action alert email, the League of Women Voters encouraged members and supporters to push Gov. Bill Lee and the General Assembly to make significant new investments in public education.
Here’s the text of that email:
Tennessee continues to neglect its public schools. The state consistently ranks as one of the bottom five for public school funding. During the current legislative session, numerous bills have been introduced by members from both sides of the aisle to provide additional funds for some of our public schools’ urgent needs. Among those needs are adequately funding school counselors, social workers, school nurses, and staff to support state-mandated intervention programs. None of these bills have passed yet.
This is the time to invest in our schools and our children. With a current budget surplus exceeding $2 billion this year and cash reserves exceeding $7 billion, this is the moment for Tennessee to support quality education in every county.
The League of Women Voters of Tennessee was extremely disappointed that Governor Lee did not address the state’s inadequate funding formula of public schools in his annual budget. However, it is not too late for the legislature to make meaningful investments in our students through their actions in setting next year’s state budget.
Please write or call the governor and your legislators and urge them to support our students and our schools.
Anne-Marie Farmer, writing over at the League of Women Voters blog, takes on the perennial issue of vouchers. Here’s some of what she has to say:
No matter what initial limitations are placed on a voucher scheme, no matter how much it is couched in flowery language about opportunity and scholarship, the bottom line remains the same. Vouchers have been proven time and time again to be a failure at raising student achievement, and to reduce the resources available to our public schools that serve the most vulnerable children. Vouchers shift scarce public money away from school systems that are required and committed to serve every child to private schools that retain the right to pick and choose which students they prefer to educate. They represent an abandonment of public education and of the ideal that school should be open to all children.
Vouchers are still alive in the Tennessee General Assembly and Anne-Marie Farmer of the League of Women Voters explains why they should die — possibly as early as this morning’s meeting of the House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee.
Make no mistake, these visions—over a hundred thousand available vouchers with no meaningful standards or oversight, or vouchers available statewide to any and every child—are not outliers. Pervasive availability is the ultimate goal of voucher advocates, and it’s where they hope any voucher law will ultimately take Tennessee, regardless of how limited its scope as currently presented. Voucher proponents will be back again and again to expand any voucher law that passes. This despite the use of private school vouchers for years in other states without any kind of track record of improved educational outcomes. Vouchers will accomplish something—they will provide tax money support to struggling private schools, which will then be free to use public dollars to teach a wide array of political and religious doctrines, and will not have to adhere to the same academic standards that are expected in public schools.
She’s talking about the combination of so-called IEP Vouchers (HB138) and the more traditional and limited voucher proposal (HB1049). Both are set to be considered in committee today.