Massive Charter Expansion Amendment Filed
Sexton-backed scheme would allow statewide charter schools
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Just when you thought the Tennessee General Assembly couldn’t go any more “all-in” on the privatization of our state’s public schools, House Speaker Cameron Sexton files an amendment to a caption bill that would effectively create statewide charter schools.
Here’s the amendment to HB1214/SB1194.
Here are the two things this 9-page amendment does:
Creates a scheme for allowing charter schools that serve homeschooled students
Allows for the creation of residential/boarding schools that are charter schools
What does this mean?
Um, well, it’s not good.
First, a charter operator could apply to the state’s Charter Commission to operate a charter school designed to serve homeschool students. The school would offer at least three days of instruction while the parents would provide the other two.
Alternatively, the charter school may offer remote instruction on the other two days.
This, of course, is NOT allowed for current school districts thanks to legislation passed post-COVID.
Second, the students enrolled in this charter school could come from any LEA. That is, a charter school based in Nashville could enroll homeschooled students from Rutherford, Montgomery, Dickson, etc.
Third, this means that kids ALREADY being homeschooled would receive a school district’s TISA funding.
So, Nashville-based HomeSchool Charter Inc. draws kids from surrounding counties and the funds from those counties get collected by HomeSchool Charter Inc.
But wait, you say, those kids were already NOT enrolled in the local district.
But, well, there’s a TISA allocation for that kid.
Now, you could see taxpayers in Rutherford County, for example, financing the operation of a charter school based in Nashville.
Plus, those taxpayers would be on the hook for educational costs they previously were NOT paying.
Yes, this version of school privatization will quite likely result in an increase in local tax burden.
But there’s more!
The amendment also allows existing charter operators to apply to operate a boarding/residential school for students in grades 6-12.
Again, these students could come from anywhere in the state - thus taking with them TISA funds.
These boarding schools would be specifically designated for students who meet the definition of “at-risk,” which includes certain economic and other factors.
Now, a charter operator can expand its operation and absorb both state and local funds for the operation of a boarding school for at-risk youth.
What could go wrong?
One can’t help but wonder if this, in some way, is an effort to “address” the current crisis in DCS in the state by using TISA funds to establish boarding schools for the kids sleeping on the floors of state office buildings.
Thus, transferring state responsibility for these kids to private operators who seek to profit from the enterprise.
The bills are sponsored by Speaker Sexton and House Education Chair Mark White and Lt. Gov. McNally and Senate Education Chair Jon Lundberg.
In short, key legislative leadership is backing this aggressive charter school expansion effort.