Standing Together for Strong Community Schools

Tennesseans invested in local public education.


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

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You Are Making a Difference. Info on Next Steps: Vouchers.

Keep Making A Difference! The voucher bill supported by Governor Haslam (HB0190) will be voted on in the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday, 2/26 at 3 PM in Legislative Plaza room 30. Please call or write Governor Haslam, Speaker Harwell, and the members of the House Education Subcommittee and voice your opposition to this bill. Their email addresses are as follows:

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.

Cut and paste the above addresses into the BCC line of your email account. Make it personal.

You can find their phone numbers at the following link:http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/committees/education.html. (The Governor’s phone number is 615-741-2001. Speaker Harwell’s is 615-741-0709.) You may also email the entire committee, along with Governor Haslam and Speaker Harwell, by signing This Petition. This is a quick and easy way to have your voice heard if you do not feel you have the time to personally call or email the representatives.

We were originally told that the Charter School Authorizer Bill (HB0702) was “rolled” until the April 2nd Education Committee meeting, but it has shown up on next week’s Education Committee agenda, Tuesday, 2/26 at noon in Legislative Plaza room 16. We have been told that it was a clerical error and that it will actually be voted on in a couple of weeks (or so). ST4SCS will have some representatives at next week’s meeting to monitor the proceedings. Please sign the charter authorizer petition if you have not already. We must not let our guard down.

Thanks again for all of your support. As volunteers with a bi-partisan representation, no backers and no funding, our cumulative voices must be heard by contacting our elected officials directly; grass-roots, standing strong together.

THIS WEEK’S PRESS:

State Charter Authorizer Sponsor ‘Listening’ to Input
WPLN

Nashville Foes Win Delay in Charter Authorizer Fight
Tennessean

ST4SCS Speakers: Anne-Marie Farmer and Chelle Baldwin
Click the photo for a video link on Facebook and hear what they had to say.

Speaking to House Education Committee.

Speaking to House Education Committee.


We Need Your Support Tuesday at Noon

A press conference was held at 3 PM CST , Monday February 18th on steps of War Memorial Plaza in Nashville. Speakers included Metro Nashville Council and School Board Members, as well as members of the Nashville delegation of the TN General Assembly. They spoke out against the State Charter Authorizer bill that is going to be voted on Tuesday (2/19) during a House Education Committee hearing.

This legislation would take the decision to open a charter school away from locally elected school boards in Nashville and Memphis only. A state level charter authorizer would increase the reach of state government into local affairs and create additional bureaucracy. Decisions about opening new schools should be left to local officials, elected by local citizens, who understand the needs of our unique communities. The reach of any state level charter authorizer would also surely expand into more and more counties once this door is opened.

We need your support Tuesday (2/19).

If you can join us we will be gathering in room Room 16 of Legislative Plaza in Nashville at noon. We will have ST4SCS representatives speaking. Use the entrance across from TPAC auditorium under War Memorial Plaza.

If you cannot attend tomorrow (Tuesday 2/19), please contact your elected officials and let them know you are against Charter School Authorizer Bill (HB0702) and keep calling Beth Harwell at 615-741-0709.

To sign a petition that auto emails the House education committee to express your view against the Charter School Authorizer Bill (HB0702) click Stop the State Charter Authorizer.

We want to support Representative John Forgety’s bill  (HB0446) to amend the current role of the State Board of Education. It is a good bill.

Need to better understand why you should be against this bad legislation? Here is some helpful reading.

Legislature’s Charter Authorizer Steamroller Revving Its Engine by Schooling Memphis

State charter authorizer bill singles out Nashville, Memphis by the Tennessean

State School Charter Authorizer Bill Filed by TN Ed Report/John Haubenreich

Remember Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst gave $165,000 to the TN General Assembly’s education committees in campaign cash last election cycle. These same beneficiaries are backing the Charter Authorizer bill and vouchers.

This bill is all about Great Hearts. Another “punishment” from the State of TN for Nashville and Memphis.  Here is The Nashville Scene’s Q & A with House Speaker Beth Harwell about her charter school bill. Did you know that MNPS approves on average 36% of all charter applications? Which is higher than the national average. So we are now changing state laws because of one school in Nashville?

Thank you everyone for bringing the real voice of public school families to the State of TN General Assembly.


We are Being Silenced by Our TN State Government

PLEASE CALL TODAY: The Education Committee continues to refuse an opportunity for us to speak. ST4SCS has representatives arriving on capital hill as this is being posted. Please call Representative Brook’s office and Rep. White’s ASAP and tell them you do not want a Charter Authorizer Bill HB702/SB830 and Standing Together for Strong Community Schools needs an opportunity to speak. They are ignoring us.

Rep. Mark White from Memphis is the bill sponsor.
(615) 741-4415
mark.white@capitol.tn.gov

Rep. Brooks
(615) 741-6879.

Also we have a source that says Nashville’s own Mayor Karl Dean is behind the Authorizer bill. Call or email his office and let him know how you feel.

mayor@nashville.gov

615-862-6000

Here is the HB702/SB830 Amendment they are trying to push through with no discussion. Please read.

Amend HB702


Latest News On Charters and Vouchers

Latest news on vouchers and charter school info for the last week in January 2013.

A Conservative Remedy To The Great Hearts Mess
From: TN EDU Report

Amending TCA Section 49-13-108
Allowing chancery court a final decision of the state board of education on the charter school’s application.

Scott McNutt’s Snark Bites: Haslam to introduce public-money-to-private-entities transfer program
From: KnoxNews.com

School Vouchers: The Myth and the Reality
From: Raise Your Hand Texas

Link to the Tennessee General Assembly Bill HB 0190 “Opportunity Scholarships”

Cornerstone Situation Continues to Devolve
From: Schooling Memphis

Charter Schools That Start Bad Stay Bad, Stanford Report Says
From: Huffington Post

Legislation to cut public assistance for children’s families who do not do well in school.
From: Huffington Post

 “What if one child in a family is doing well and another is not?”
From: Newscoma 

Harrisburg schools saddled with debt and growing exodus to charter schools
From: Central PA Patriot News

Teachers’ Union Questions Haslam’s Commitment to Public Education
From: Pith in the Wind

CREDO Report: Charter School Growth And Replication’ Study

Voucher plan could cut $270K from city schools
From: The Tulahoma News

Tennessee voucher debate: the chance, and price, of ‘school choice’
From: WRCB 3 Chattanooga


1 Comment

Why Local Control Matters

1. A Statewide Charter Authorizer (SCA) would increase the reach of state government into local affairs and create additional bureaucracy.

2. Unlike local school boards, the members of an SCA would be appointed, not elected. Therefore, an SCA would not be accountable to the voters of Tennessee–in fact, the appointed bureaucrats in the SCA would not be accountable to you at all.

3. An SCA cannot possibly understand the unique needs of every district in the state. Locally elected school boards can adapt to the unique social and cultural dynamics of their community and pursue more creativity in addressing educational issues which develop.

4. Because local school boards are directly elected, they hold a greater stake in the success of the schools in the district. Therefore, they are more likely to ensure that the charter schools they approve are going to meet the needs of their community.

5. The state of TN has not proven that an SCA is needed:

  • The state’s website indicates that TN school boards are already doing an adequate job of selecting and monitoring charter schools:
    “Charter schools are public schools operated by independent, non-profit governing bodies that must include parents. In Tennessee, public charter school students are measured against the same academic standards as students in other public schools. Local boards of education ensure that only those charter schools open and remain open that are meeting the needs of their students, district and community. Local boards do this through rigorous authorization processes, ongoing monitoring of the academic and financial performance of charter schools, and, when necessary, through the revocation or non-renewal of charters.”
  • The charter schools in Metro Nashville have generally performed better than charter schools in other parts of the state, suggesting that the Metro Nashville Public School Board has done a good job of selecting and monitoring its charter schools. Perhaps the state of TN should ask the MNPS Board to share its charter procedures with other school boards across the state rather than entirely removing the right of these elected boards to choose what is best for their individual communities.

6. Schools authorized by an SCA would take money from the budgets of our local public schools and existing, locally authorized charter schools. The SCA would, therefore, arbitrarily take money from the funds reserved for our districts’ needs.

 7. Because of some of the problems that can occur if charter schools are not closely monitored, it seems that the individuals most invested in the success of these schools (i.e., locally elected school boards) should have the final say in which schools should be allowed. Some of these problems are as follows:

  • Charter schools tend to exclude/under serve students with disabilities.
  • When charter companies decide to call it quits, or are forced to close due to poor performance,  they disrupt communities.
  • Some charter schools have dramatically restricted curricula, removing art and music classes.
  • Charter companies are not accountable to parents and citizens through local elections, so parent voice and control can be diminished.
  • Charter schools can increase racial and economic segregation, sifting society and marginalizing social capital.
  • Many charter companies do not outperform traditional public schools.