Tennessee School Districts Fighting School Vouchers Turn in Lackluster Academic Results, State Figures Reveal

The five school systems in Tennessee that have come out to formally oppose school vouchers haven’t exactly done that great of a job preparing students for college.

This, according to statewide statistics members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission reported last week.

As The Tennessee Star reported, representatives from some of these school systems said they have higher academic standards than charter schools.

About 67 percent of Madison County students who went off to college needed remedial math classes. Almost 45 percent of them need remedial reading, according to the figures.

Exactly 62.7 percent of students coming out of Metro Nashville Public Schools, meanwhile, had to take a remedial math course. About 47 percent of those students needed a remedial reading class, according to statistics.

Also in Nashville, 90 percent of students at Maplewood Comprehensive High School who went off to college needed remedial math. About 76 percent needed remedial reading courses. Almost 92 percent of students at White’s Creek Comprehensive High School needed remedial math, and 78 percent of them needed remedial reading. For Stratford Comprehensive High School, 88 percent needed remedial math courses. More than 73 percent of the students needed remedial reading.

Christiane Buggs, who represents District Five of the Metro Nashville Public School Board, told The Star Monday she and her colleagues passed a resolution opposing taxpayer dollars for private schools.

“I would suggest that we at least let taxpayers decide for themselves. Do they want to allow their own taxpayer dollars go to different private schools?” Buggs asked.

“We still have areas where we have to have growth, but no private schools (here) have stood up to say they would accept these vouchers. If there were private schools that would accept them would there be regulations mandating how these public funds would be used and who would be checking on these students’ educations?”

Among the other findings:

• 41.5 percent of Houston County students needed remedial math courses at college; and 24.4 percent of them needed remedial reading classes.

• Of the students who came out of Oak Ridge High School, 39.8 percent needed remedial math; and about 22 percent of them needed remedial reading.

• In Wilson County, 38 percent of high-schoolers on their way to college needed remedial math; about 23 percent of them needed remedial reading.

Madison County School Board member Janice Hampton told The Star last week that charter schools don’t measure up to the same academic standards as public schools. Public schools, she said, are better suited to meet all students’ needs.

“If students of public education will go to charter schools or private schools you (will) have many teachers losing their jobs,” Hampton said.

“Many administrators will lose their jobs because there will not be enough students in the school district to be taught. Is it fair for teachers who have gone so far to get educated and then to get certified to teach courses to lose their jobs because of vouchers? I don’t think it’s right.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]








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3 Thoughts to “Tennessee School Districts Fighting School Vouchers Turn in Lackluster Academic Results, State Figures Reveal”

  1. […] The Star reported in February, certain school board members that have passed votes to formally oppose school vouchers live in […]

  2. Ann Tulloch

    I am a homeschooling mother of several children who happens to have two of my children enrolled in a Wilson County school. There are several points that come to mind:

    1. Parental education levels and involvement are more closely correlated to how many are going to need remedial classes in college. I don’t see how changing schools is going to magically make them do better on these tests. The school districts that did the best had the most educated parents.
    2. My public school kids utilize the special education programs available at public school. When I see these arguments about public schools, it usually comes from people who have not had to deal with special needs and think privatized options will solve problems. Charter schools do not have enrollment, but an application process. If you have a special needs child, studies show you are less likely to “get In” because they don’t want the burden of your child there.
    3. According to Mrs. Buggs, ““We still have areas where we have to have growth, but no private schools (here) have stood up to say they would accept these vouchers.” That’s because they don’t want these kids dragging down their stats, because they know just changing the education environment is not going to produce a radical change in test scores.
    4. This whole college is for everyone is absolutely ridiculous. When my grandparents were coming up, the college track kids were the ones who took two years of Latin. If you couldn’t hack it, you weren’t college material. To honor everyone is to honor no one, and I think that this free college is debasing the value of the degree.
    5. Trying to get 0% in need of remedial is an unrealistic goal. About 10-20% of the population is dyslexic and even more than that will not test well. I agree with John Taylor Gatto, that award-winning teacher, that achievement tests are a scam. https://youtu.be/xZ56-65h03k
    Actual achievement is born of personal motivation, and when I see that spark go out of my public school kids is the day I pull them out and back into my homeschool. For now, I am pleased with the Orton-Gillingham phonics, speech therapy and individual support my kids get at public school.

  3. Cannoneer2

    Wilson County school administrators wasted no time in running to the County Commission to lobby for a resolution against vouchers. The reasons for that are clear!