Sumner School Board Rejects County Commission’s Book Ban Request

While the Sumner County Commission issued a resolution calling for two books to be removed from school libraries, the Sumner County School Board voted (7-3) on Tuesday to keep “A Place Inside of Me” in schools.

More on the School Board’s vote from NewsBreak:

The Sumner County School Board last night voted in favor of keeping “A Place Inside of Me” on the bookshelves in the school system’s library. The move comes following a complaint that the book violates a new state law around objectionable content. Seven members (out of 11) voted in favor of keeping the book.

The School Board’s action came just one night after the Sumner County Commission passed a resolution calling for the book to be removed from school libraries.

That resolution said the book contained objectionable content, including “hatred of police, overthrow of the government, destruction of the nuclear family, and communism.”

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Sumner County Commission Says Books Cause “Destruction of Nuclear Family”

Commission passes resolution calling for removal of two books from all school libraries

Using a new Tennessee state law about “appropriate” texts in school libraries, the Sumner County Commission this week passed a resolution calling for the removal of Zetta Elliott’s A Place Inside of Me and Laurence Yep’s Dragonwings.

Here’s more from NewsBreak:

The Sumner County Commission passed a resolution at its meeting last night (11/14/22) that states that two books currently circulating in libraries in Sumner County Schools violate state law and should be removed from all libraries in the county. The move comes as the Sumner County School Board is prepared to hold a hearing on the books at a meeting this week.

The resolution states “text found in the books has examples of racism, underage drinking, foul language, violence, drugs, prostitution, alcohol, hatred of police, overthrow of the government, destruction of the nuclear family, and communism.”

The Sumner County School Board previously held a meeting on A Place Inside of Me. At that meeting, there were 5 votes to keep the book, but six are needed. Two members of the Board were absent.

The board will meet tonight (11/15) to hear discussion on the book and vote again.

A local advocacy group says the County Commission’s action was intended to influence tonight’s vote:

Local advocacy group Sumner For Good is urging citizens to show up in support of the books. The group specifically called out the Commission’s vote as a “strong arm” tactic designed to change votes on the School Board.

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

Sumner School Board Takes a Stand Against Vouchers

The Sumner County School Board tonight unanimously voted in favor of a resolution opposing school vouchers in Tennessee. The move comes as legislative debate over vouchers is heating up.

One member of Sumner County’s legislative delegation, state Senator Ferrell Haile, is a co-sponsor of the “Opportunity Scholarship” program targeted at Memphis.

Here’s the resolution:

WHEREAS, the Sumner County Board of Education is responsible for providing a local system of public education; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee General Assembly in the 2017 legislative session will entertain legislation that would create a voucher program allowing students to use public education funds to pay for private school tuition; and

WHEREAS, more than 50 years have passed since private school vouchers were first proposed, and during that time proponents have spent millions of dollars attempting to convince the public and lawmakers of the concept’s efficacy, and yet, five decades later, vouchers still remain controversial, unproven, and unpopular; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee requires that the Tennessee General Assembly “provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools”, with no mention of the maintenance or support of private schools; and

WHEREAS, the State of Tennessee, through work of the Tennessee General Assembly, the Tennessee Department of Education, the State Board of Education and local school boards, has established nationally recognized standards and measures for accountability in public education; and

WHEREAS, vouchers eliminate public accountability by channeling tax dollars into private schools that do not face state-approved academic standards, do not make budgets public, do not adhere to open meetings and records laws, do not publicly report on student achievement, and do not face the public accountability requirements contained in major federal laws, including special education; and

WHEREAS, vouchers have not been effective at improving student achievement or closing the achievement gap, with the most credible research finding little or no difference in voucher and public school students’ performance; and

WHEREAS, vouchers leave many students behind, including those with the greatest needs, because vouchers channel tax dollars into private schools that are not required to accept all students, nor offer the special services they may need; and

WHEREAS, vouchers give choices to private schools, not students and parents, since private schools decide if they want to accept vouchers, how many and which students they want to admit, and the potentially arbitrary reasons for which they might later dismiss a student; and

WHEREAS, many proponents argue these programs will increase options, when in fact several options currently exist within public school systems; and

WHEREAS, voucher programs divert critical dollars and commitment from public schools to pay private school tuition for a few students, including many who already attend private schools; and

WHEREAS, vouchers are an inefficient use of tax payer money because they compel taxpayers to support two school systems: one public and one private, the latter of which is not accountable to all the taxpayers supporting it; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Sumner County Board of Education opposes any expansion of the special education voucher program as well as any new legislation that would divert money intended for public education to private schools.

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