Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist, Crom Carmichael to the studio.
At the top of the third hour, Carmichael weighed in on a Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling that deemed the school voucher and ESA programs proposed by Governor Bill Lee for Shelby and Davidson Counties to be unconstitutional. He later questioned if it was the judges who were siding with unions instead of the children and their families who are looking for a better educational opportunity.
Leahy: Crom, if you don’t mind, let’s turn our attention to some local matters. Right up our alley, a very important decision was made yesterday and the Tennessee Court of Appeals. They ruled that the governor leaves the educational savings account program and the voucher program that applies to failing schools and in Shelby and Davidson County. They ruled it unconstitutional.
Carmichael: Well, I am not a lawyer so I don’t and I’m not that familiar with our Tennessee Constitution but this almost sounds like it’s one of two things. It’s either an opinion that is drafted by folks that are pro-union or it’s drafted by folks that are in the school of thought of Neil Gorsuch. Which is very different.
And that is that because I understand what you’re saying is that they ruled it was unconstitutional because it limited itself to only two counties. Davidson County and Shelby County. And so I understand what you were telling me during the break that the ruling says that if they had offered vouchers to failing schools across the state that would be that would have been constitutional. At least the way you’re reading it.
Leahy: I think so. Basically what Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County and Shelby County didn’t like this. And they argued that this program is unconstitutional because the state cannot target specifically what they call home rule counties, which Shelby and Davidson County are through legislation now, You know, the the the governor’s council thought that this would pass constitutional muster.
The Chancery Court disagreed. The court of appeals disagreed. The Beacon Center actually of Tennessee issued a comment after the ruling. . .
Carmichael: I’m hoping that the Constitution does allow the state to try to help people who are the most in need. And those are the parents who because of where they live are forced to go to the worst schools in one of the worst-performing counties in the state. Just so we’re clear on the data. Even though we spend about $12,500 in Davidson County per student 26 percent of the Davidson County students that are proficient at Math and 26 percent and English.
Leahy: That’s not very good.
Carmichael: So imagine how bad they are in the worst-performing schools. And and and that’s at $12,500. Now here’s what’s interesting. And this is this does not count capital costs by the way. These are operating costs.
How many students are in a typical class? Pick a number. I don’t care what ain’t 21 I say 20. Okay, 20 times. 12,500 is $250,000. Hmm. Where’s all that money going? Yeah, the teachers get about 60. Yeah, where’s all the rest? Where’s the rest of the money?
Leahy: Overhead and bureaucrats? Programs.
Carmichael: And it’s and it’s so we have a lot of wasted money and then but the results are the results. If we wasted money and had good results, then you can argue it’s not waste. But when you have terrible results, and the worst-performing schools are probably at half.
So you’re down around 10 percent of the children are performing at a standard level for math and English. You’re not going to succeed in life. Your chances of success in life at that level are just terrible. And you have the Democrats that say all they care about is the children. We know they don’t care. They only care about the unions.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly.
Carmichael: And so the question is whether or not these judges are judges who are siding more with the unions trying to find a way to side with the unions. Because I’ll guarantee you, Davidson County and Shelby County in suing against that law, they were suing not for the children, but for the unions
Leahy: There’s no question about that. Of course, the governor’s people made a conscious decision to focus on Davidson and Shelby Counties for political reasons as well as others. and we’ll see if the Tennessee Supreme Court ultimately backs him up on that. I’m skeptical but we’ll see. We’ll see what they say.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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