Standing Together for Strong Community Schools

Tennesseans invested in local public education.


What’s the latest news on the state charter authorizer bill?

Unfortunately, HB702/SB830 continues its winding path through the legislature. Last week, the House finance subcommittee discussed a further amendment which would apply the state-appointed charter authorizer panel to just 5 counties – Knox, Hamilton, Hardeman, Davidson, and Shelby. After legislators raised concerns about “checkerboard legislation” and turning some counties into “guinea pigs,” they adjourned. This amendment will presumably be considered by the subcommittee again this Wednesday. A Nashville reporter tweeted that after the meeting, there was a “pow-wow” and “lots of whispering” between the bill sponsor and the head of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association. Here is the latest:

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303270171

The Metro Nashville Public Schools board has called a special meeting Monday (April 1st) at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the financial impact of this bill on MNPS schools and taxpayers. The board chair invited State Education Commissioner Huffman, who has objected to any financial protections for districts being placed in the bill, to attend the meeting. Huffman has refused to attend and discuss his position or the local board’s concerns about the pending legislation.

Commissioner Refuses Meeting
http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/state-ed-commissioner-refuses-meeting-mnps-over-charter-authorizer-bill

Huffman Rejects Invite
http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303290082

Remember, this bill still has hurdles it must clear before it could become law, and we still need to be vocal in opposing it! PLEASE call your legislators and tell them to vote against this unfunded mandate that could create huge deficits for public school districts. A personal email has a huge impact at this stage when you voice your opposition to this bill and your support for local control and local decisions for schools in your community. Please email the members of the House Finance subcommittee and ask them to oppose HB702. Email addresses for you to cut and paste:

rep.mike.harrison@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.alexander@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.armstrong@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kevin.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.lois.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.hawk@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gerald.mccormick@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.odom@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.roach@capitol.tn.gov, rep.charles.sargent@capitol.tn.gov

And if you haven’t already, please sign the petition opposing HB702/SB830:

ST4SCS will continue to watch this bill and as parents and public school advocates we will express disapproval. Thank you for your support.
Read more about why a state-level charter authorizer is bad for school districts and why defeating this legislation matters.

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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.