An article online at “Tennessee Report,” Guv’s Charter School Bill Met With Initial Skepticism, states:

Legislation that would blow the cap off the number of charter schools and pave the way for a handful of the governor’s education reforms to alternative education was aired at a hearing for the first time Wednesday.

The plan, HB1989, drew resistance from members on both sides of the aisle in the House Education Subcommittee, foreshadowing possible resistance as the bill moves through committees.

Let’s examine some of the quotes for objections to expanding the Charter school choices:

But Rep. Joe Pitts, a Democrat from Clarksville, worried that the measure would give the state’s achievement school district a back-door method of turning the state’s failing schools into charter schools, which he opposes.

TNSC would ask what Rep. Pitts’ priority is.  Keeping failing schools open?  Is Pitts arguing it would be better for Tennessee’s children to stay in a failing school rather than turning the failing school over to become a charter school?  This is the exact area where charter schools excel, teaching at risk, low income children coming from failing schools.  Is Pitts’ priority keeping that school a union shop, since most charters aren’t or educating Tennessee’s children?

Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, questioned the wisdom of taking public dollars away from traditional public schools to fund schools operated by private organizations, a concern often raised by teacher-union members critical of charter schools.

TNSC would remind Rep. Bartlett what this whole debate is about – the children, specifically better educating Tennessee’s children to succeed in today’s economy.  If the local school is doing a great job then students will stay.  If the school is failing to meet the needs of a child, for whatever reason and in whatever way, why shouldn’t that child have the option of attending a charter school that will meet their needs?  We need to better educate our children, not be concerned if some school gets fewer taxpayer dollars.  We have to stop the us (public education) them (charter, private, home, etc. education options) mentality and start working together, using all our options and resources to get Tennessee’s children the best possible education!

Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh suggested that the expansion would remove too much local control.

Well, at least we finally have an honest politician.  Fighting anything that takes away the power of the unions, politicians and others with a stake in the public education arena is what this fight has always been about.   We have know for 34-40+ years what does and doesn’t work in educating children, yet we have willfully denied reality rather than fight this battle.

The unions will fight to continue controlling the half trillion federal dollars spent on public education.  The question is will Tennesseans start fighting to provide our children with the education they need and deserve?


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