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Tennessee Schools Face Multi-Billion-Dollar Shortfall
Meanwhile, local districts resort to book banning
When it comes to school funding, Tennessee lags far behind our neighbors in Kentucky.
Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown points out the significance of this disparity in a recent email to educators. In it, she notes:
“It’s not about how the funds are divided, it’s about how many state dollars are put into education,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “To get to the Kentucky level of school funding, Tennessee needs $3 billion added to the state education budget.”
That’s just embarrassing. Here’s the thing: Tennessee can afford to do much better. In fact, we have a huge surplus. This means we can invest in schools without raising taxes. A boost of billions of dollars in state money for public schools would also have the benefit of helping to keep local property taxes low.
We’re at least $1.7 billion behind where we should be according to state analysts. We’re $3 billion behind Kentucky. The overall formula is not the real problem – a huge lack of investment is the real problem.
MORE on school funding>
On the topic of school funding, the Nashville Public Education Foundation has raised some serious questions regarding Gov. Lee’s initial proposal:
Will the base weight in the proposed framework accurately reflect the cost of running schools where all students thrive? We need an increase in funding effort from the state level that matches an aspirational vision for what is possible in public education, and what we want our teachers, students, and families to experience.
How will weights be defined for student populations requiring additional funds to meet their learning needs? The proposed framework describes the weights as heavy, moderate, or light. What do these terms specifically mean and how will these weights be determined?
Are we also having the right conversation about fiscal capacity? It is critical to address the fiscal responsibility of the state versus that of local districts. As we design a new framework, we need to consider where the funds for the plan will come from in a long-term, sustainable way that does not place too high a burden on local districts and municipalities.
While the state wrestles with the school funding puzzle (and so far, fails to actually add dollars to invest in public education), local districts are focused on what really matters: Banning books.
The Tennessee Holler reports that the McMinn County School Board voted to ban the Pulitzer-winning graphic novel “Maus.”
Additionally, a dark money group named “Moms for Liberty” is seeking to ban 4 additional books from the schools. The books:
Martin Luther King Jr and the March on Washington
Ruby Bridges Goes to School
The Story of Ruby Bridges
Separate is Never Equal
It seems some in Tennessee communities are not happy with their kids learning about the Holocaust or the Civil Rights Movement. In the case of McMinn County, the school board voted 10-0 to ban a graphic novel about the Holocaust.
It seems like if you were a “Mom for Liberty” you’d want your kids to have the liberty to learn actual history instead of having it hidden from them.