"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tennessee Republicans Trade Local Control for Corporate Domination

If there's anything Tennessee conservatives hate more than minorities who refuse to serve as doormats, it is anything public that is not controlled by corporate overlords.  Local control?  Only if corporations make the "local" decisions.  To make sure of it, see what is happening with proposed legislation to take charter school decisions out of the hands of local boards of education and put them in the hands of Haslam and Huffman's henchmen.  From Tom Humphrey at the News-Sentinel:


NASHVILLE — A bill to create a new state panel that could authorize charter schools when local school boards reject them has been revised to apply only in five counties, including Knox, and remains a contentious issue as legislators push toward adjourning the 2013 session.
The bill (HN702) is a high priority for House Speaker Beth Harwell, who was upset when the Metro Nashville school board last year rejected a charter school application she thought should have been approved. Under current law, local school boards decide whether a charter school can be established within its jurisdiction.
The bill has been revised as it moved through committees, at one point applying only in Nashville and Memphis and at another applying statewide. The current version, awaiting a floor vote in the House while stalled in the Senate Finance committee with a vote rescheduled for this week, will apply in school systems that have a school ranking in the lowest 5 percent of all schools in the state — deemed “priority schools” under current state law.
That brings in Knox County, which has one school — Sarah Moore Green Elementary — meeting that criteria as well as Hardeman County, which also has just one school meeting the “priority school” standard. It would also apply in Shelby, Hamilton and Davidson counties. In other counties, the state Board of Education would hear appeals when the local school board rejects a charter school application.
During House committee debate, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, asked whether a school system such as Knox would escape the statewide “state authorizer” jurisdiction if its priority school later improves on student achievement scores and is promoted out of the “priority school” classification. He got no answer from bill sponsor Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, or anyone else in the meeting.
In interviews later, Jim Wrye, lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association and Lee Harrell, lobbyist for the Tennessee School Boards Association, said the bill provisions assure that Knox County would be covered for at least six years after Sarah Moore Green students do well enough on state tests to escape “priority” classification.
“Knox County is in the cross hairs,” Wrye said.
He and other critics say the bill would open the door for multiple charter schools, entitled under current law to state funding, to siphon off taxpayer dollars from public schools, including money for infrastructure “even if they’re operating out of a church basement.”
Wrye contends the board making decisions is designed to have a “pro-charter bias,” assuring that local boards will often be overridden. The panel would have nine members — three each appointed by the governor, the House speaker and the Senate speaker. . . .

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