Tennessee has its own billionaire-funded non-profit “think” tank to push the school privatization agenda in the state. It’s called the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), and among financial backers are the “Hyde Family Foundation, the Ayers Foundation, and the Benwood Foundation. National supporters include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.”--> -->
When state officals or state legislators need data to justify their bashing of educators and public schools for the performance levels that are guaranteed by low state funding and high poverty, they turn to SCORE. SCORE’s president, David Mansouri, has an MBA from Vandy and is a founding board member of a Nashville charter school, where he still serves as Chairman of the Board. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that one of SCORE’s top priorities is to increase the number of charter schools in the state, even as charter schools come under increasing scrutiny for corruption and low performance.
Tennessee’s senior U. S. senator, Lamar Alexander, was instrumental in passage of federal legislation that guaranteed continued high stakes testing and a continuing supply of vulnerable public schools that will be targeted for charter conversion. Under the ESSA federal statute, the state’s lowest performing schools (bottom 5 percent) each year are subject to charter conversion, and the bottom ten percent are put on a state priority warning list.
Ironically, the charter school “solution” has become part of the poor performance problem. In examining the rankings of Tennessee’s K-12 schools, I discovered 40 of Tennessee’s 112 charter schools that are in the bottom 10 percent of the state’s K-12 publicly-funded schools. This would, in effect, make these 40 charters eligible for intervention under the ESSA federal statute that was designed to provide an ongoing supply of public schools for charter conversion. Almost half (55 of 112) are in the bottom 20 percent of state schools.
Here is the list 40 charters in the bottom 10 percent of schools: