Senator Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, recently filed a revised version of the “Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act,” SB2135, for the 2012 legislative session.  Shortly thereafter the school boards of the four counties the bill would apply to (Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, & Shelby) all adopted resolutions opposing the vouchers and hired Robert Gowan and the Southern Strategy Group to lobby against the bill (we leave for another day the unethical nature of using taxpayer funding to lobby the state legislature to retain or increase taxpayer funding).  These big four districts are determined to trap our children in their schools even when their parents have concluded they are failing to educate and prepare their children and desire the freedom (funding) to send them to a school better able to service their needs.

The legislation would provide “Fifty percent (50%) of the dollar amount the resident school district would have allocated per pupil from state and local sources” to “a student who is eligible for free or reduced price lunch” in the four counties listed above.

Several other counties not impacted by the legislation have also passed resolutions voicing opposition to SB2135.  We recently wrote an article confuting the arguments made by the Hawkins County School Board (Here), not to “pick on” Hawkins County, but because the news article highlighted many of the same arguments being put forth by the “big four” districts that will be impacted.  The overriding theme presented by the counties was not concern for the children, but don’t take “our” money and give it to “them.”

So let’s take a look at what results these four counties have produced with the taxpayer funding they have been given.  How well have these four counties prepared their students to compete in a global market?  Remember, our children will be competing for increasingly technical jobs against, against candidates from around the world.  Are these four counties enabling their students to reach their potentials?

Davidson County

Using data from the Tennessee Department of Education 2010 Report Card:

Per Pupil Expenditures per ADA    $10,777

9-12 graduation rate 82.9%

Adequate Yearly Progress Indicators (Adequate Yearly Progress-AYP-“schools and school districts are measured on whether the students meet performance benchmarks in math, reading” & other areas.  Further explained Here)

Grades K-8 Math:             27% Proficient & Advanced

Grades K-8 Reading:         41% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Math:           39% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Reading:      60 % Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Value Added – Growth Standard (Value Added is a method used to measure the influence of a district or school on the academic progress (growth) rates of individual students or groups of students from year-to-year shown in easy to understand letter grade.  Further explained Here & Here.)

Math D

Reading D

Social Studies C

Science D

Via the Global Report Card Davidson County vs. the world, Davidson County scored in the:

18 percentile in Math (this means 82% of their world counterparts scored better in math testing than Davidson County students)

34 percentile in Reading (this means 66% of their world counterparts scored better in reading testing than Davidson County students)

Hamilton County

Using data from the Tennessee Department of Education 2010 Report Card:

Per Pupil Expenditures per ADA    $9,220

9-12 graduation rate 80.2%

Adequate Yearly Progress Indicators

Grades K-8 Math:             38% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Reading:         48% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Math:           67% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Reading:      68% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Value Added – Growth Standard

Math D

Reading D

Social Studies B

Science D

Via the Global Report Card Hamilton County vs. the world, Hamilton County scored in the:

26 percentile in Math

40 percentile in Reading

Knox County

Using data from the Tennessee Department of Education 2010 Report Card:

Per Pupil Expenditures per ADA    $8,529

9-12 graduation rate 86.6%

Adequate Yearly Progress Indicators

Grades K-8 Math:             42% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Reading:         59% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Math:           45% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Reading:      78% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Value Added – Growth Standard

Math C

Reading C

Social Studies B

Science C

Via the Global Report Card Knox County vs. the world, Knox County scored in the:

36 percentile in Math

51 percentile in Reading

Memphis City

Using data from the Tennessee Department of Education 2010 Report Card:

Per Pupil Expenditures per ADA    $10,767

9-12 graduation rate 70.8%

Adequate Yearly Progress Indicators

Grades K-8 Math:             19% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Reading:         33% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Math:           34% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Reading:      52% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Value Added – Growth Standard

Math D

Reading F

Social Studies C

Science D

Via the Global Report Card Memphis City vs. the world, Memphis City scored in the:

14 percentile in Math

26 percentile in Reading

Shelby County

Using data from the Tennessee Department of Education 2010 Report Card:

Per Pupil Expenditures per ADA    $8,439

9-12 graduation rate 91.2%

Adequate Yearly Progress Indicators

Grades K-8 Math:             44% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Reading:         61% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Math:           55% Prof & Adv

Grades K-12 Reading:      79% Prof & Adv

Grades K-8 Value Added – Growth Standard

Math D

Reading D

Social Studies B

Science D

Via the Global Report Card Shelby County vs. the world, Shelby County scored in the:

43 percentile in Math

57 percentile in Reading

Keep in mind the above numbers represent real children.  For example, Memphis has a graduation rate of 70.85%.  Yet, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis boasts a 99% graduation rate.  We would ask the school board members who voted to spend taxpayer funds to oppose the voucher legislation to walk into a Memphis class room (of say 20 students) pick out six students, look them each in the eye and tell them, “Even though your parents want a voucher to send you to a school that graduates 99% of their students we are willing to sacrifice your entire future and toss you aside rather than give up half the funding associated with educating you.”  Melodramatic?  Perhaps.  But again, we reiterate, these numbers represent real children in Tennessee and our failure to prepare them.

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