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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

TN Voucher "Plan" Features Big Government with No Fiscal or Program Accountability

Each of ruby red states in the new Old Confederacy has its own niche attraction for Westerners and Northerners looking to move to a fascist-friendly community where narrowness of thought is highly valued if it happens to run in the same rut as the white male protestant power structure.  While all of the red states offer haven for white nationalists, anti-intellectuals, and conspiracy theorists, Florida is particularly attractive to those angry anti-vaxxers and anti-wokesters, while states like Tennessee and Arkansas draw thousands of Christian nationalist transplants each year who would be happy to jettison Constitutional guarantees against the establishment of a state religion. And as long anti-social media remains unhindered from expanding financial empires based the perpetuation of ignorance, divisiveness, and toxic myth, then the state of the Union will continue to suffer, even as disunion grows like cancer.

As Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, seeks to further promote immigration of white Christians, a top governmental priority is the provision of state funds for parents to enroll their children in religious schools or other private schools at public expense. And so today, Lee will announce a proposed new program that will offer 20,000 parents next year a school voucher worth about $7,000 for tuition, books, uniforms, etc. In 2025-26, Lee plans to include all of 1 million students in Tennessee who are now eligible for free public schools, "regardless of income or previous school enrollment."

Now when we do a little back of the envelope math, you can see that the cost during the first year is going to run the State $140,000,000 on top of the normal allocation for public schools, including transportation, lunches, construction, maintenance, libraries, salaries, etc. 

Let's assume, after Year One, that 10 percent of the State's school-age parents decide to choose vouchers over public schools, where their kids now have athletic teams, theater, music, special ed, technical education--most of which will go bye-bye when their children enroll in the old Pizza Hut at the strip mall that has been turned into the Bill Lee Christian Nationalist Elementary School of Lee (Robert E.) County.

It's easy to see that the cost would be over the moon--$700,000,000 every year for 10 percent of TN's school children. That would be almost 15 percent of TN's contribution to the annual K-12 budget. All the while, the State must continue to fund the public schools that are not going away just because they lose 10 percent of the student body.  And it will lose most of the federal funding for the 100,000 students who end up in private schools.

What new taxes will be imposed on Tennesseans to pay for this fantasy thought disorder? 

And what about curriculum and standards?  

What about teacher qualifications?

Is Bill Lee prepared to put a resource officer in each of the Christian madrassas that he plans to open, just like in the public schools? 

Does Bill Lee have a plan to make sure children gain the necessary academic, social, and life skills to succeed at work and/or to go to college? 

Where's the accountability? Where is Bill Lee's and the Republican Supermajority's accountability?

It is way past time for the teacher unions, parents, grandparents, and other concerned citizens to fight, fight, fight the further erosion of another of our cherished institutions: public schools.  Let me know if you are engaged in an organized effort or would like to get involved: 




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