Tennessee Map of Resolutions Opposing School Vouchers 2023-24

As Governor Lee continues to cozy up to dark money donors and push to de-fund and debilitate our public schools in Tennessee, our school boards, superintendents, county commissions, and other governing bodies across the state have made it clear that this is NOT what the people of Tennessee want and that this is NOT in the best interests of public school students.

If you know of a county governing body, school district, or other organization that has passed a resolution in opposition to the governor’s school voucher scheme, please let me know and we will add that information to the map!


UPDATED 4/20/2024



Tennessee Capitol Update 3-18-24


Our school board chose not to hear from me regarding important pending legislation during monthly legislative updates – and not to allow YOU to hear from me.  Our communities deserve to know about legislation and pending legislation that impacts our public schools – and I will not stop bringing you that information.

I will ALWAYS do everything I can to help YOU access to information that impacts our public schools. I will continue to attend legislative committee meetings both in person and via live stream and to visit legislators in their offices to share your questions about pending legislation. 

When you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email or call me:


(865) 919-1998 



Legislative subcommittees are beginning to close for the year, so we can expect things to move very quickly from here out. Legislators seem eager to pass as much as possible with as little discussion as possible – and it is sadly obvious that even some well-seasoned legislators don’t know what their own bills say.

If you have concerns, Legislators need to know!


My current bill tracker (in progress) is here:  TPEC Bill Tracker – March 2024 – Owen.xlsx
This is a live document and may be updating as you view.
Please let me know if corrections need to be made.


A day to discuss all lottery-related bills is scheduled for Monday 3/18 in the House for multiple committees
(Monday meetings are yellow on the bill tracker.)


A bill to prohibit the use of corporal punishment in public schools failed in the Senate Education Committee this week due to the lack of a 2nd to hear the bill:  HB1965 / SB1788 by Rep. Powers and Sen. Campbell


Two bills to provide students with free lunch and breakfast failed in the House K-12 subcommittee due to the lack of a 2nd to hear the bills: HB255 / SB208 by Rep. Raper and Sen. Love and HB1844 / SB1790 by Rep. Clemmons and Sen. Kyle


A bill to provide funding to lower the student to counselor ratio failed in the House K-12 subcommittee for… wait for it… lack of a 2nd to hear the bill.  HB1847 / SB1656 by Rep. Clemmons and Sen. Campbell


Representatives have said that they have been so consumed with the voucher bills they have forgotten about 3rd/4th retention.(That’s our fault, for not keeping it in front of them!) I only know of one bill that could still offer some relief (unless Senator Crowe revives his bill), It is on the FINAL calendar of the House K-12 subcommittee and in the Senate Education Committee this week.

Calls to the K-12 subcommittee need to be made BY NOON TUESDAY. This committee tends to not second bills brought by the minority party, which means that they will need a lot of encouragement to pass this on to the full committee. Please call the K-12 subcommittee members and ask others to do the same:  Education Committees 2024.xlsx

Legal Summary for HB2238 / SB2238:


Present law provides that the DOE is required to include each school’s A, B, C, D, or F grade on the state report card. This bill provides that the dept. must continue to include each school’s grade on the state report card, but must do so according to this bill’s requirements.

This bill provides that an LEA or public charter school may elect not to receive a letter grade for one or more of its schools by notifying the commissioner of education, in writing, of the LEA’s or public charter school’s decision to opt out of the requirements under this bill. Written notice of an LEA’s or public charter school’s decision to opt out of the requirements under this bill must identify the schools and the respective school year for which the LEA or public charter school has elected not to receive a letter grade.


Present law provides that a student who is not proficient in ELA, yet is promoted to the fourth grade through tutoring through the TALLC or by attending a learning loss bridge camp must show adequate growth on the fourth grade ELA portion of the TCAP test, as determined by the department, before the student may be promoted to the fifth grade. Despite this provision, present law provides that a student must not be retained in the fourth grade more than once.

This bill replaces this provision, providing, instead, that a student who is not proficient in ELA, yet is promoted to the fourth grade through tutoring through the TALLC or by attending a learning loss bridge camp and who does not show adequate growth on the fourth grade ELA portion of the TCAP test, as determined by the department, may be retained in the fourth grade if the student’s LEA or public charter school determines that retention may benefit the student. However, this bill provides that a student must not be retained in the fourth grade more than once.


More than 60 school districts have passed resolutions in opposition to school vouchers. Those I have verified are included in the chart below. Several small districts have passed resolutions, but their resolutions and minutes are not available online. I will include them as I get verification.

Voucher Resolutions by District and County 2024.xlsb

VOUCHER BILLS – and more voucher bills?

Both the House and Senate versions of the voucher bill are moving to Finance, Ways, and Means committees – but not this week. I recommend continuing to call House Finance Subcommittee members with your concerns. Members are near the bottom of this sheet:  Education Committees 2024.xlsx

Just when we thought we had a week off from calling about vouchers, the Senate Education Committee schedules a prior bill number that has been used for vouchers… With no amendment attached. As KCS has continued to do nothing to hire a lobbyist to represent our students’ interests, I can only guess at whether this is an accident or if another amendment is about to pop up here:  HB2468 / SB2787

FROM TN COUNTY SERVICES ASSOCIATION in FEBRUARY: Universal School Vouchers The Governor’s version ... would provide a $7,075 scholarship (in alignment with TISA base amount) to 20,000 students. Half would be reserved for families whose household income does not exceed 300% of poverty. The other half have no income limitations.

The funds could be used to pay: tuition, fees & uniforms; textbooks, curricula & instructional materials; tutoring services; transportation; computer hardware & technology; costs related to summer academic programs; fees for early postsecondary courses or exams, entrances exams & industry credentials; & educational therapy services.

The award could be used for category I, II, III, IV & V private schools. Category IV schools include some institutions that register parents as parent-teachers for homeschooling… For subsequent years, the amount appropriated for the scholarships would determine how many are available. If there are more applicants that the number of scholarships available, awards would be granted in the following order: 1st to students receiving scholarships the previous year, 2nd…household income did not exceed 200% of poverty, 3rd…household income did not exceed 300% of poverty, 4th to students currently enrolled in public school or eligible to enroll in kindergarten the next school year. Any remaining scholarships could be awarded to any eligible student in the order the application was received…. The Governor’s version does not include any accountability measures for students using the scholarships.

The Senate versionis dramatically different, creating essentially an open enrollment system throughout the state’s public and private schools. The scholarships could be provided to students who either enroll in the same categories of private schools as the Governor’s proposal or who enroll in a public school in an LEA other than the one where the student is zoned to attend. Private school students could get a maximum award of the base TISA funding amount per pupil (proposed to be $7,075 next year). A student enrolling in an out-of-zone public school could receive the greater of the amount of tuition charged by the LEA for out-of-zone students or the local share of the base funding amount generated by the eligible student. The state would still fund 100% of the awards in the Senate proposal. The proposed language includes complex rules for determining how the funds generated in the TISA formula would be distributed for a student attending a school the student is not zoned for. The permitted uses of the funds are essentially the same as in the Governor’s proposal, except that the funds can be used to pay out-of-zone tuition to a public school.

…the priority of award recipients mirrors the Governor’s version. In the Senate version, an LEA or public charter cannot deny enrollment to an out-of-district student unless, there is a lack of available space or teaching staff in a particular school or program, the recipient is not eligible due to age, course prerequisites or levels of performance; or the LEA has to deny the applicant due to a desegregation plan. The other significant difference in the Senate version is the fact that all participating students (whether in public, private or home school) in grades 3-11 must be administered an annual assessment approved by the state board of education. 3rd graders are also required to take the ELA TCAP or an approved assessment. 8th graders must take comparable mathematics assessments. 11th grade students must take a college readiness exam such as the ACT or SAT. The Senate version also includes financial accountability and fraud prevention measures. Private schools that enroll students accepting a scholarship must also comply with all state and federal health and safety laws applicable to nonpublic schools, certify that they will not discriminate, and conduct background checks on employees.

Voucher Fight – Compass Article

Voucher Fight Looms


Quarantine Exemption Guidelines

A letter sent to the Board of Education members this morning may help community members understand why our local legislators’ push-back against face masks and our governor’s “opt out” order have created more than just chaos. They have created a situation that is causing students and teachers to become ill, isolate, and miss class time far more than would be necessary if mask requirements and other protocols were in place for students in Knox County

It is almost as if our legislature and governor are setting schools up to fail. Would they really go to these lengths and endanger students all over Tennessee, just to give themselves something to “fix” prior to their elections this summer.

My Grandaddy used to say,
“If it looks like a duck… QUACK!!!”


Dr. Cayce’s letter is here:

Dear Mr. Superintendent and Board

I was reviewing quarantining guidelines on the Knox County website and found the following document:

Releasing Cases & Contacts from Isolation & Quarantine

It includes a recent update on 08/13/21 that includes a quarantine exception for K – 12 classrooms. Indicating the update occurred after your last board meeting.  I included the exception from the document below:

In the K-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3-6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) where:

• Both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks; and

• Other K-12 school prevention strategies (such as universal and correct mask use, physical distancing, increased ventilation) were in place in the K-12 school setting.

Current policies on “parental choice” exclude KCS students from meeting this exception. This argument is purely partisan politics.

The exemption from quarantine conditions aligns with published research and real-life experiments on children imposed by different Education Boards. The North Carolina sponsored study shows universal masking is the key intervention.

ABC’s Final Report June 2021

You can achieve compliance with the quarantine exception by implementing universal masking and other preventative measures (some currently implemented and some not). I understand the governor’s EO; however, I dare him to do something about it. I am convinced a universal masking policy will stand up in the court of law and represents the key to keeping students in class, safely, where they can learn.

I believe the board should call an emergency meeting to discuss this updated guidance from the State Board of Health and provided by the Knox County Board of Health.  KCS currently ignores the guidance.

Masking only works if it is applied UNIVERSALLY.

Jonathan Cayce, Ph.D.

Follow the Money Map 4.29.19

I am still calling it a “draft,” but I don’t know where else I could stick anything!  The latest Money Map is here!

If the PDF versions below are too small, you might try the link to the full map I uploaded to xmind: http://www.xmind.net/m/BSp9

Money Map 4-29-29

House and Senate ESA Bill Comparison

The House and Senate ESA Bill Comparison is in three different formats, below. Google Chrome is recommended for the best viewing, but there should be a format that works for everyone. If not, please let me know in the comments.

House and Senate ESA Bill Comparison




ESA House Senate Comparison

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

The TN ESA Voucher Bill, HB 939 is Still Terrible

The TN ESA Voucher Bill, HB 939 is Still Terrible.

An annotated version is below. What else do you see that we haven’t covered?


HB 939 with highlights and amendment HA0188

The Governor's Office Would LIE to the Public?

We are hearing increasing reports of bullying, harassment, and intimidation tactics being used by Tennessee legislators, to strong-arm YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES into voting the way THEY want them to vote, rather than for the interests of constituents. 

Now, we are also hearing that people who voted for Governor Bill Lee have called his office to ask questions about the current “Education Savings Account” school voucher legislation and that they have not gotten honest answers. Sweet ladies are contacting me to let me know that they called the governor’s office, and the bill “just” says this or doesn’t say that – and I have to show them the actual amendment and see their faces when they realize that their governor’s office has lied to them.

This should not be happening.

Students’ lives should not be impacted by this kind of behavior.

Unfortunately, some of our legislators see our students only as dollars that support their buddies’ businesses and as PAC interests that support their own campaigns.

Our students need YOU to stand up and tell YOUR legislators to stop using students as political pawns, take responsibility for public schools, and increase funding to public schools to bring us up from FOURTY-FIFTH! in the nation, rather than throwing money away on voucher and charter schemes to privatize, separate, and segregate YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

If you have called the governor’s office or your local legislator and they have told you not to worry about this little amendment, please read it for yourself. I’ve added some highlights and red notations to help you get through the wordy-wordiness.

If I missed noting anything concerning in the amendment, please let me know in the comment section at the bottom of this page.


House Bill 939, Amendment 006145

If your browser does not support reading this PDF, you can download it HERE.


Keep Public Funds in Public Education


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/)