"This bill specifically states that there will be NO regulations or standards applied to a participating educational provider. Private schools accepting this voucher are not required to be accredited or have any operating history. A provider need not actually provide the services called for in the child’s IEP. The bill calls for NO testing or reporting of educational results. ZERO accountability. And this lack of accountability runs counter to all of the laws that have been passed in recent years requiring testing and accountability for our public schools. Why would our legislators allow our tax money to be spent without any accountability, after spending years trying to establish accountability in our schools?"
"Though the bill requires the Department of Education to set up procedures for policing the program, it seems it would be difficult to keep track of the 6000-8000 accounts the plan is estimated to create in the early years. Additionally, of course, the Department would have to track providers of education services and curriculum. How long will it take to discover fraud? And what happens to the students with legitimate needs who are poorly or never served?"
March 19, 2015 - Bartlett City School Board UNANIMOUSLY approved a resolution OPPOSING any voucher bill that would divert public funds from already under-funded public schools to private institutions.
WHEREAS, each year the Tennessee General Assembly convenes the state’s legislative session to adopt and amend laws affecting a wide range of legislative issues; and
WHEREAS, this year, Tennessee lawmakers convened the 109th General Assembly on Tuesday, January 13, 2015; and
WHEREAS, pending before this legislative body are bills that would create a voucher program allowing students to use public education funds to pay for private school tuition; and
WHEREAS, the Bartlett City Board of Education is responsible for providing a system of free and appropriate public education for all school-aged children in Bartlett, Tennessee; and
WHEREAS, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee requires that the Tennessee General Assembly “provide for the maintenance, support, and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools”, with no mention of the maintenance or support of private schools; and
WHEREAS, the State of Tennessee, through work of the Tennessee General Assembly, the Tennessee Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and local school boards, has established nationally recognized standards and measures for accountability in public education; and
WHEREAS, standards and measures for accountability are intended to improve student achievement, close achievement gaps between high performing and low performing students,
and provide meaningful opportunities to engage in the educational experience; and
WHEREAS, vouchers eliminate this public accountability by channeling public education funds into private schools that do not face state-approved academic standards, do not make budgets public, do not adhere to open meetings and records laws, do not publicly report on student achievement, and do not face the public accountability requirements contained in major federal laws, including special education; and
WHEREAS, vouchers have not been effective at improving student achievement or closing the achievement gap, with the most credible research finding little or no difference in voucher and public school students’ performance; and
WHEREAS, vouchers give choice to private schools but do not provide meaningful choice to students and parents, because private schools decide if they want to accept vouchers, how many and which students should be admitted, and the potentially arbitrary reasons for which they might later dismiss a student; and
WHEREAS, many voucher proponents argue these programs increase school choice, but currently numerous public school options exist within Shelby County. Seven public school districts and a litany of charter schools currently support open enrollment policies that allow opportunity for public school choice. Through federal, state, and local laws and policies, students have the option to attend traditional, charter, and magnet schools within the County; and
WHEREAS, voucher programs divert critical dollars and commitment from public schools to pay private school tuition for a few students; and
WHEREAS, Tennessee’s public education funding formula, the Basic Education Program (“BEP”), has experienced significant changes “designed to restore fairness, sustainability, and accountability to the funding process” resulting in BEP 2.0; and
WHEREAS, BEP 2.0 has never been fully funded since its inception in 2007; and
WHEREAS, vouchers compel taxpayers to support two school systems, one public and one private, while public education remains partially unfunded, and while the private system offers no accountability to the taxpayers supporting it.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BARTLETT CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION, that the Board opposes and hereby urges the General Assembly to oppose any legislation or other similar effort to create a voucher program in Tennessee that would divert money intended for public education to private schools, especially in light of the lack of funding for BEP 2.0.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be transmitted forthwith to the Shelby County delegation to the General Assembly, which is hereby requested to oppose all legislation or other similar effort in the next legislative session that would divert money intended for public education to private schools.
TN General Assembly, we demand you provide a quality public education for every child in TN as the constitution you swore an oath to uphold requires. This means:
- A public education for every child who needs it.
- Public schools that are locally controlled.
- Appropriate standards developed and approved by Tennessee experts.
- Stop teaching to tests.
- Provide a well-rounded academic experience that includes: arts, music, foreign language, recess and a higher emphasis on science and social studies.
- And we want instruction time. One-on-one time with small group teaching and relationships that only time with a teacher can bring. Our most at-risk students need even more time with the teacher, not tests.
Vouchers are just another device to give up on Tennessee Public Education.