Standing Together for Strong Community Schools

Tennesseans invested in local public education.


Stop Charter Authorizer Bill Being Pushed Through Committees

Tomorrow, Tuesday April 9, the House Finance Committee will consider the state charter authorizer bill, HB702. The bill creates a new unelected panel with authority to overrule local boards of education regarding what schools to open and fund. Its decisions would mandate local tax dollars to fund these schools. There is no limit on the number of schools or dollars that the panel could obligate a community to fund out of its public schools budget. The negative impact of unchecked and unplanned charter school growth on a community’s schools budget and district schools is not hypothetical. It is playing out across the country, and Tennessee need not make these same mistakes. 

In a major change from current law, HB702 allows your local elected school board NO oversight over the charter schools the panel approves. Charter school applicants would not have to worry about accountability to local officials if they believe a more lenient state panel could approve and oversee them, resulting in “venue shopping,” approval of lower quality schools, and less accountability. Although the bill has been amended to apply to only 5 counties currently (Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, Shelby, and Hardeman) the advocates for this power grab will not stop with these five counties. This bill would open a door that special interests would be back again and again to expand, with a goal of being able to override local citizen control in every community across the state. And with charter companies now trying to push through FOR PROFIT charter schools in Tennessee, we must pay close attention to the vision these folks have for our public schools and the direction in which they are pushing our state.

The House Finance Committee meeting is one of the last big hurdles for HB702. Please speak up now to oppose this bill. If you are able to attend the committee meeting at 10 am on Tuesday, legislative plaza room 16, please join us. If possible, wear red. Parking is sometimes available at meters on the street, and also at a large pay parking garage at Deaderick and 3rd Avenue. Please email your own legislators, as well as the members of the House and Senate Finance Committees TODAY! Committee member email addresses are below, so you can cut and paste into one email.

Thanks for all your efforts to protect our public schools and students this year. We were all thrilled when Gov. Haslam withdrew his voucher proposal, and now is the time to step up our efforts.

EMAIL your disapproval TODAY with a COPY/PASTE.

rep.charles.sargent@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.alexander@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.armstrong@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kevin.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kent.calfee@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.carter@capitol.tn.gov, rep.barbara.cooper@capitol.tn.gov, rep.lois.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.hall@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.harrison@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.hawk@capitol.tn.gov, rep.matthew.hill@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curtis.johnson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gerald.mccormick@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.gov, rep.larry.miller@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.odom@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.roach@capitol.tn.gov, rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.gov, sen.randy.mcnally@capitol.tn.gov, sen.douglas.henry@capitol.tn.gov, sen.bo.watson@capitol.tn.gov, sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov, sen.steven.dickerson@capitol.tn.gov, sen.lowe.finney@capitol.tn.gov, sen.ferrell.haile@capitol.tn.gov, sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov, sen.bill.ketron@capitol.tn.gov, sen.jim.kyle@capitol.tn.gov, sen.mark.norris@capitol.tn.gov


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 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


Opportunity for Whom?

Monday, Gov. Haslam filed his anticipated voucher proposal to shift public money away from public schools. The bill is titled the “Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act.”  A first review of the bill cries out for an answer to the question – Opportunity for Whom?

The first thing that jumps out about this bill is its statement that participating private schools need not offer special education services to voucher holding students. Since most private schools offer limited, if any, special education services, this provision seems to explicitly exclude students with special education needs from the “opportunity” the bill claims to create.

Further, there is no requirement that a participating private school accept voucher students without regard to its normal admissions criteria. Thus, with respect to those schools that have such admissions requirements, academically struggling students (the very students the bill is supposed to assist) will also be left without this new “opportunity.”

Certainly there is no new “opportunity” here for public school districts who will see much needed funds flow from their operating budgets.

So who will be benefit from this great new “opportunity”?  Those private schools that are financially struggling and need a tax-funded bail out from the state, while maintaining the ability to screen out low-performing or high-needs students.

Contact your Legislators and tell them you do not want your tax dollars funding private schools.