Team Kid’s Payroll

Dark money PAC spends nearly $400,000 to promote school privatization

I’ve written before about Tennesseans for Student Success – a group with an innocuous sounding name that is actually a front for dark money issue advocacy and political shenanigans related to privatization of public schools.

I also reported that this dark money, pro-privatization group started a political action committee (PAC) called “Team Kid PAC” with a clear mission of influencing policy by electing candidates who support shifting public money to private schools.

It seems Team Kid is making a move – getting involved in state elections in the 2022 cycle.

According to disclosures filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, Team Kid has received $500,000 in contributions from Tennesseans for Student Success this summer.

Of course, they’re also spending.

The group has made contributions to the campaigns of Democratic Senators London Lamar and Raumesh Akbari as well as Republican Senators Jack Johnson, Bill Powers, and Shane Reeves.

Powers, some may recall, broke his campaign promise to oppose vouchers in his first vote as a new state Senator.

Other recipients of Team Kid cash include House Majority Leader William Lamberth, Rep. Chris Hurt, and House candidates Elaine Davis, Gabriel Fancher, Deanna McLaughlin, William Slater, Joseph Barrett, Gino Bulso, Michael Hale, Brock Martin, Jacob McCalmon. The group is also backing Senate candidate Adam Lowe.

Hale is challenging Republican and reliable anti-voucher vote Terri Lynn Weaver. Slater is running in a three-way race in Sumner County and his campaign focuses on his support for vouchers. He previously served as Head of School at Hendersonville Christian Academy.

A Clear Privatization Agenda

The candidates Team Kid is backing, then, demonstrate a clear privatization agenda.

In addition to the $1200 contributions to each of these candidates, the group is spending big on polling, phones, and advertisting.

In their most recently filed disclosure, Team Kid reports spending nearly $400,000 to influence today’s primary.

What does Team Kid – and their sole funder, Tennesseans for Student Success, want?

They want to shift public money to private schools by way of charters and vouchers and they want to help elect lawmakers who will advance this agenda.

Where does the money come from?

That’s a great question.

100% of the contributions indicated on Team Kid’s PAC disclosure are from Tennesseans for Student Success.

TSS is a nonprofit, so that means heading over to Guidestar to check out their IRS 990.

The most recent 990 available at Guidestar is from 2019 (contributions made in 2018). Here’s the thing: When it gets to the contribution element, it simply says “restricted.”

The group took in more than $2 million and there’s no information on who gave the money.

This is like doubling down on dark money. There’s a PAC with a disclosure form. The PAC discloses all of its funds come from a nonprofit. The nonprofit’s most recently available tax form contains information from four years ago. That information sheds exactly zero light on who is funding the group.

Tristar Reads

Tennesseans for Student Success also promotes a program called “Tristar Reads.” It’s a program that essentially promotes K-12 students reading over the summer.

Here’s some of the social media promotion they’ve done for it:

The group’s 2018 990 form shows they spent just over $4000 on Tristar Reads.

By contrast, they’ve spent $400,000 just this summer on electing candidates who plan to pilfer the public purse for the sake of privatization.

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

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Total Disgrace

That’s how one incumbent Republican House member describes Gov. Bill Lee’s conduct in the face of comments from a key education advisor disparaging teachers.

Other candidates joined in and suggested the Lee should have taken action rather than sit silently while teachers were attacked. Since the comments were made, Hillsdale President Larry Arnn has doubled down:

Here’s video of the forum where candidates spoke about the incident:

https://twitter.com/TheTNHoller/status/1550962055456456707?s=20&t=vu5OgV6ja6BKuvbMj46SZg

Here’s more on Lee making a weak attempt to distance himself from the whole situation:

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Garrett Announces Endorsements in School Board Race

Williamson County School Board Chair Nancy Garrett recently announced a slew of endorsements for her re-election bid.

More from a story originally published at NewsBreak:

District 12 School Board candidate Nancy Garrett announced today that her campaign has the support of more than 100 public education leaders as the incumbent board member seeks re-election in August.

In a statement, Garrett said:

“I’m honored to have the support of these school leaders who are the backbone of our community. These citizens have worked together to build the positive national reputation of WCS schools in the arts, athletics, and academics.”

These endorsements include current and former parent volunteers from many school support organizations, former and retired local teachers, and former WCS and FSSD school board members and administrators.

Garrett, the incumbent District 12 representative for the Williamson County Board of Education, has also been elected by her fellow Board Members to serve as Board Chair since 2020. Prior to that, she served two terms as Vice Chair. A Williamson County Schools graduate, and daughter of a WCS teacher, she was appointed to the Board in November of 2016, and elected to the Board in 2018. She was a PTO leader every year of her son’s school career and has had 15 family members graduate from WCS.

Among the endorses is Lauren Sullivan, a former PTO President at Oakview Elementary, who said:

“Nancy Garrett loves her community and its citizens. She has a passion for our schools and children. I trust her to keep our students and teachers at the forefront of her decision-making process, and I enthusiastically endorse her for the District 12 school board seat.”

Kent McNish, a former Franklin Special School District (FSSD) Board Member said of Garrett:

“The voters of FSSD elected me to the Board of Education five times between 1994 and 2012. I was privileged to know and work with Nancy Garrett. She has a strong commitment to the children of the WCS. Her record of service is outstanding. I hope the voters of the 12th District will return her for another term. A good Board member brings no bias to the work of a school board–only what is in the best interest of children. She supports principals, teachers, and she supports families. I am proud to support Nancy Garrett for another term on the Williamson County Board of Education.”

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