About Those Voucher Amendments...

Oddly, all of the “improvements” that have been made to Tennessee House Bill 939, the Education Savings Account Voucher program, have reverted back to their original form in the version that is expected to be presented Wednesday, April 10th. Were those amendments not made in good faith? It certainly gives the appearance that votes were traded for amended language, and then traded again. This kind of shameful trickery of their own peers may be a new low for some of our legislators, but the complete lack of transparency is, unfortunately, exactly what we have become accustomed to. 

 

HB0939 Amend 007851 with Highlights

Follow The Big, Big, Money

Privatization Map 4-2019_2This is a draft map of just some of big money organizations and individuals who spend big money to fund the campaigns of  YOUR Tennessee Legislators.

Cover Your Eyes; Our Legislators' PAC Priorities Are Showing!

If you still think the constant attacks on Tennessee’s teachers are partisan attacks, you’ve got some catching up to do!

The school voucher plan has been deceptively re-named “Education Savings Account,” with the hope that it can be fast-tracked through the legislature before constituents notice they have been had. And this week, all the media is reporting that the charter authorizer bill has been “scaled back,” but they are missing the fact that it STILL takes away YOUR local voice. Check the language: It says charter applicants “may” go to a local BOE. It is NOT required!

Both of these bills are sewn up with one common thread: a thread made of money.

Big,  BIG,  money.

The chart below shows only 3 of the big money groups who have been funding destructive legislation nationwide, for years.

Please call your representatives to let them know that you expect them to work for YOU, the VOTER –
not some BIG-MONEY schemer with an international agenda!

If your browser does’t support the PDF, you can find it right smack here!

 

What is “The American Federation for Children”?

“The American Federation for Children (AFC) is a conservative 501(c)(4) dark money group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues.”

“The group was organized and is funded by the billionaire DeVos family…”

“Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who was charged with multiple crimes stemming from abuse of his office,” is AFC’s Senior Advisor to its Government Affairs Team.

What is “Students First”?

StudentsFirst works for the adoption of charter schools and school “accountability” programs (school report cards) and educator evaluations based on student achievement (TVAAS).

Founded by Michelle Rhee, to “lay out a legislative agenda with the kinds of laws that states and local jurisdictions should adopt so that real reform can take place.”

StudentsFirst supports “rights of parents to organize and demand the transformation of chronically failing schools,”defined by student performance on standardized testing

“…the idea has been propagated by two controversial right-wing organizations: the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heartland Institute.”

Also called “Parent Tricker” laws, because they coerce parents into radical and unproven actions that often destroy neighborhood schools, these laws are backed by groups pushing for privatization of public schools.

Bill Cosby is on the Board of Directors.

What is “Stand for Children”

Major funders: the Walton Family, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, and several Chicago billionaires.

Diane Ravitch criticizes the group for seeking to impose standardized testing on public schools. (Ravitch, Diane,June 14, 2012), “Stand for Children Does Not Stand for Public Education”, dianeravitch.net)

From former “Stand” volunteers: “But in 2009, while we struggled to give voice to the needs of our schools, Stand’s staff was turning away from our concerns, announcing that it expected its members to forgo community advocacy in favor of a new, special agenda. This agenda, emerging seemingly out of nowhere, touted more charter schools, more testing, and punishing teachers and schools for low student scores.” (https://www.citizensforpublicschools.org/editions-of-the-backpack/spring-2012-backpack/an-open-letter-from-former-stand-for-children-activists-about-ballot-measure/)

Pass the Bill and Figure it out Later?!

Please watch this meeting of the Tennessee House Education Subcommittee on Curriculum, Testing, and Innovation regarding creating a new commission (yes, bigger government) to authorize charter schools, after local school districts vote not to authorize them.  (Skip forward to 42:34 – HB 0940)

If the video does not play, you can also access it here.

Please contact ALL members of the Tennessee House Education Committee (the next stop for the bill, HB0940) and tell them that decisions regarding LOCAL schools should be left to your LOCAL boards of education.

Members of the House Education Committee and their contact information can be found here.

You can find additional information on this bill from Andy Spears, here.

and from The Tennessean and Andy Sher, here.

6 States Invest Twice as Much Per Pupil

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A Voucher by Any Other Name

In November, 2018, 92% of Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) delegates voted for a resolution urging lawmakers to oppose “any legislation or other similar effort to create a voucher program that would divert money intended for public education to private schools or organizations.” TSBA membership includes 141 Tennessee school boards, whose members are elected by their districts to manage and control all public schools.

While our elected school boards have repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted to oppose vouchers and similar schemes in Tennessee for nearly a decade, state legislators have ignored their pleas and continued working in the interests of private corporations, rather than public education. This legislative session (January 2019 – May 2020), we expect voucher bills to continue to be pushed by those legislators whose campaign accounts are more important than their youngest and most vulnerable community members.

This time around, we expect to see increasingly ‘creative’ names for these bills, to mislead the public regarding the true nature of these bills. This kind of semantic trickery is should not be tolerated.

Please contact your Tennessee House and Senate representatives and governor-elect, to let them know that you oppose any plan to divert money from our public schools, regardless of what they call it. Please encourage them to do away with the slick sales pitches and listen to their local boards of education, and to fully support our public schools.

Tennessee House:    http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/

Tennessee Senate:   http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/

Governor-Elect Bill Lee’s transition page:   http://www.transition.billlee.com