Standing Together for Strong Community Schools

Tennesseans invested in local public education.


Senator Gresham Cloaks Voucher Legislation in Driver’s Ed Bill

The Senate Education Committee will be meeting this Wednesday at 3:30 PM (revised date/time posted 3/18/13 at 12:06 PM) and will be reviewing Senator Delores Gresham’s expanded voucher amendment that she is attempting to link to a Driver’s Education bill (SB1358). Her amendment will make vouchers available to many more children in Tennessee, including those who are not in failing schools and do not receive free and reduced lunch. The limited voucher bill endorsed by Governor Haslam is also going to be heard at this meeting (SB196).

If you are the constituent of one of these representatives, please let him/her know you are opposed to public funds being given to unaccountable, private schools/companies. Private schools that accept vouchers are not required to provide transportation, special education services, or English Language support.  Many of these schools also have admission policies that exclude children who have not met specific academic goals, which means that many children in “failing” schools will not be able to get into private, voucher schools. This bill will, therefore, likely serve children who are already doing well academically and don’t necessarily “need” to go to a voucher school in the first place. Please see the below list for the members of the Senate Education Committee and take 5 minutes to contact your senator. If you do not know who your senator is, go to http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/ and enter your address in the “Find My Legislator” text boxes at the top of the page. Thank you for your support of public education!

 For Reference: the TN Senate Education Committee 2013

Name

District

Phone

Email

Dolores Gresham * 26, Somerville 615-741-2368 sen.dolores.gresham@capitol.tn.gov
Reginald Tate ** 33, Memphis 615-741-2509 sen.reginald.tate@capitol.tn.gov
Steve Dickerson ** 20, Nashville 615-741-6679 sen.steven.dickerson@capitol.tn.gov
Charlotte Burks 15, Monterey 615-741-3978 sen.charlotte.burks@capitol.tn.gov
Stacey Campfield 7, Knoxville 615-741-1766 sen.stacey.campfield@capitol.tn.gov
Rusty Crowe 3, Johnson City 615-741-2468 sen.rusty.crowe@capitol.tn.gov
Todd Gardenhire 10, Chattanooga 615-741-6682 sen.todd.gardenhire@capitol.tn.gov
Joey Hensley 28, Hohenwald 615-741-3100 sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov
Brian Kelsey 31, Germantown 615-741-3036 sen.brian.kelsey@capitol.tn.gov
___________________

FOLLOW UP ON THE CHARTER AUTHORIZER 

Fiscal Impact Of Charter School Authorizer HB702 Reviewed Wednesday 

The House Finance, Ways, & Means subcommittee will be meeting this Wednesday at 10:30 AM (revised time posted at 3-18-13 – 11:23 am) to discuss the State Charter Authorizer Bill (HB702). The members of the full committee are as follows: Charles Sargent, David Alexander, Joe Armstrong, Kevin Brooks, Kent Calfee, Mike Carter, Barbara Cooper, Lois DeBerry, Craig Fitzhugh, Steve Hall, Michael Harrison, David Hawk, Matthew Hill, Curtis Johnson, Gerald McCormick, Steve McDaniel, Larry Miller, Gary Odom, Dennis Roach, Johnny Shaw. If you are the constituent of one of these representatives, please call or email them and let them know you are opposed to the State Charter Authorizer because of the financial strain it could likely place on counties across the state. (We know that you are likely opposed to it for other reasons, but this committee focuses on finances.) The bill in its current form will affect every county in Tennessee and will allow the state to authorize an unlimited number of charters irregardless of the financial status of a district. This could jeopardize funding for all the schools in a district and result in a decrease in services, school closings and/or tax increases.

You can find the contact information for these legislators at the following link: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/. If you are not sure who your representative is, you can go to this same link and enter your address at the top of the page in the Find Your Legislator text boxes. Please take 5 minutes to place a call or send an email–we need to make our voices heard! Thank you!

Read up on the details here.


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Amended Authorizer Bill Goes State-wide

CALL TO ACTION: Sign the NEW petition on the amended state-wide authorizer bill that will affect all counties in Tennessee. Respect Local Control: Stop the State Charter School Authorizer HB702/SB830. 

When you sign the petition you will be urging opposition of the Bill HB 702/SB830, which would allow a newly appointed panel to override our locally elected school boards’ decisions regarding charter schools and then cut local boards of education out of the oversight of those schools. A state-level charter authorizer would increase the reach of state government into local affairs and create additional bureaucracy. We want decisions about opening and funding schools in our district to be made by our local officials, elected by our local citizens, who understand the needs of our unique communities. Please respect the rights of local voters to shape the direction of their community’s schools and vote NO on HB 702/SB830.

By signing this you can automatically send an email to the entire Tennessee Legislature and ask them respectfully to vote no.

SIGN HERE.

Read about the  issues:

Local Schools, Local Decisions

State Legislature Could Move Local School Funds

Williamson School Chief Warns That Charters, Vouchers Could Lower Home Values
Tennessean

Bill That Would Create State Authorizer for Charter Schools Advances
Knox News

This bill has NO cap on how many charters the state may approve and districts will be responsible for funding all charter schools approved by the appointed panel. Sign the petition and ask your legislators to respect local control and vote no on the authorizer panel.

Thank you for supporting Tennessee Public Schools.


Latest Legislative News and ST4SCS Opinion On Amended “Charter Panel”

UPDATED 5pm cst
House Education Committee passed a State Charter Panel Bill. It will be made up of 9 appointed people (3 from Governor, 3 from Speaker of House and 3 from speaker of Senate). They will have final approval on Charter school appeals. The state will maintain ALL control over the charter it approves but your district (LEA) will have to fund it. The LEA will NOT be able to close the school if it is failing nor will they be able to hold it accountable if it is not providing adequate services to Special Education students or English Language Learners (ELL). There is NO cap on how many charters the state may approve and districts will be responsible for funding all charter schools approved by the appointed panel. Citizens will NOT be able to hold the panel accountable if the financial burden of charter schools forces increases in taxes. The State will be writing checks that districts state wide will be paying for. Tell the members of the House that YOUR city is not going to fund THEIR charter school.

Harwell’s Charter Authorizer Bill Clears Committee; Dems Call New State Board ‘Death Panel for Public Schools’

Our Press Release Earlier Today

STATEWIDE PARENTS GROUP SAYS VOTE FOR VOUCHERS AND STATE AUTHORIZER IS A VOTE FOR LOCAL PROPERTY TAX INCREASE

Experience locally and nationally show additional taxes will be needed to support new expanded “choices” – Calls for local referendum for voucher program.

Nashville –Standing Together 4 Strong Community Schools, a group of Tennessee parents who oppose proposals for a voucher program to pay for private school tuition and a proposal to create a state authorizer for charter schools, warned legislators today that a vote for these proposals is a vote for local property tax increases.

“Today we learned that charter schools will cost Metro taxpayers $15 million next year.  The creation of a second entity with the authority to approve charter schools could cause this figure to increase at an uncontrollable rate, and this should be alarming to taxpayers in Davidson County whose property taxes were just raised last year,” said Chelle Baldwin a spokesperson for the group.

“This legislation amounts to taxation without representation.   It removes control of our schools from locally elected officials and places it in the hands of an appointed board at the state level.  Under this bill, a voter in Memphis will have as much say about what schools open in Green Hills as a voter here in Nashville.  The state will be able to open as many new schools as it wishes while Nashville taxpayers pay for them.  Nashvillians will have absolutely no say-so about the performance of the state schools that we are funding and no ability to close them. At the very least, we need assurances that state-opened schools don’t drive off us off the fiscal cliff.   The cost of operating charter schools is quite high, and this could be the king of unfunded mandates,” said Metro Nashville School Board member Amy Frogge, who is also a member of Standing Together 4 Strong Community Schools.

Standing Together 4 Strong Community Schools also pointed out that that recent attempts to expand Wisconsin’s twenty-three year old voucher program has stalled over concerns about increased local property taxes to pay for vouchers. The Republican President of the Wisconsin Senate has demanded that any expansion of their state’s voucher program include a requirement for a local referendum approving the use of local public tax dollars going to private schools. Last year“We would suggest that same requirement for local taxpayers’ approval for any voucher program in Tennessee. In Nashville, about two-thirds of the total voucher payment would come from local taxpayers. Shelby County taxpayers would pay about half of the total amount. We need a say in how our public tax dollars are spent,” said Baldwin.

See these articles about property taxes and Wisconsin’s voucher program:

A State Appointed Panel could be in a position to authorize hundreds of charters across all of TN if you don’t voice your opposition NOW! Amazingly, those backing this bill refuse to place any sort of fiscal limit on it. This legislation, as it stands, could have disastrous effects on our city and schools!

Please call Speaker Harwell’s office to express your opposition. (615)741-0709

Or email her: speaker.beth.harwell@capitol.tn.gov


Call to Action: New Charter Authorizer Amendment

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the House Education Committee could vote on the State Charter Authorizer bill. It is amended as an appointed panel to approve all charter appeals from ANY CITY STATE-WIDE. Your cities fund a majority of the cost of educating a student. Nashville alone pays 2/3rd of the cost for charter schools. A state authorizer could approve a school your city does not want AND maintain control of that school but not fully fund it. Elected school boards will have NO control over charters they are forced to fund. Call Speaker Beth Harwell’s office Tuesday morning and tell her NO State Authorizer and NO to “State Charter Panel” bill House Ammendment 702! (615) 741-0709


Big $$ Thrown at Parent Choice Between “Opportunity” and Food.

If the purpose of vouchers is to close the achievement gap by increasing achievement and improving long term success for the lowest performing students then why does this plan put these children, who are provided food in their zoned schools, at risk of going hungry? Even more alarming, nearly a million dollars has been spent already to advertise for vouchers. PR for a bill still in committee? We feel this is more of an indication that vouchers will be used for private gain, not to help children.

Read More
American Federation for Children is spending $800,000 on broadcast television for vouchers.
The Tennessean

Voucher Debate Heats Up with $800K Ad Buy
TN Ed Report

Please help us.
Join us tomorrow on the hill, Tuesday March 5th for the House Education Committee meeting at Legislative Plaza, room 16 at 12 PM. They will be hearing the charter authorizer bill and voucher bill (with a likely amendment to expand the program) and we need as many people there as possible. We had a great turnout at the Education Committee meeting on February 19th–we need to fill the room with concerned constituents! As parents, business owners, community members, educators and public school advocates we ARE making a difference and our voices are being heard so let’s show up in force at Tuesday’s meeting.

If you have not done so already, please contact the committee members (copy and paste email addresses below to send your message) or sign our petitions (see links below). Call Governor Haslam’s office (615) 741-2001 to tell him you do not agree with vouchers. Also contact Beth Harwell’s (615) 741-0709 office to express your objection for a State Charter Authorizer as that will be up for vote on Tuesday.

bill.haslam@tn.gov, speaker.beth.harwell@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Harry.Brooks@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.John.DeBerry@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Joe.Pitts@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Harold.Love@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.John.Forgety@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Roger.Kane@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Debra.Moody@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Dawn.White@capitol.tn.gov, Rep.Mark.White@capitol.tn.gov.

Petition Against Charter Authorizer

Petition Against Vouchers


Mark your Calendar!

If you can, please attend the House Education Committee meeting at Legislative Plaza, room 16 at 12 PM on Tuesday, 3/5. They will be hearing the charter authorizer bill and voucher bill (with a likely amendment to expand the program) and we need as many people there as possible. We had a great turnout at the Education Committee meeting on February 19th–let’s try to pack the room out this time! Our voices are being heard–this is not a lost cause, so we must keep fighting. And please keep contacting the Committee Members and signing our petitions. (See posts below for links.) Hope to see you on Tuesday!