Grant’s Rants: It’s Time We Start Giving Families Choice and Funding Students, Not Bureaucracy

Student raising hand in class


Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 official guest host and Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry in studio.

Leahy: It’s that time of day again. It’s time for Grant’s Rants  Are you ready?

Henry: I am ready.

Leahy: Ladies and gentlemen, here it is. Grant’s Rants.

Henry: Now some of you know me as the grassroots director for American Prosperity. As Michael just said, you may not know that us to do some lobbying here in the state of Tennessee.

And as we get closer to the beginning of the next legislative session here in Tennessee, I want to discuss a topic that’s been at the forefront of the national news narrative for the past year.

Educational freedom and parental school choice if there’s any silver lining to this terrible coverage shut down over the past 18 months, one has to be the parents are more involved with local politics than ever before.

It seems even Governor Lee and Penny Schwinn have taken notice as they’ve embarked upon a statewide town hall tour to address our BEP funding model. Here’s a great headline from The Tennessee Star. I would urge all of you to read this. Parent and School Board Tensions Could be Eased by School Choice.

And in this article, Dr. Ninos P. Malek says, “assuming it is legitimate for the government, that is taxpayers to fund education, the government should distribute those funds directly to parents and allow them to choose where to educate their children.”

Not only would this allow for more school choice, but it would also reduce much of the conflict we are seeing today between parents and school boards across the country. You see, the purpose of education is to help students discover, develop, and apply their unique abilities, establishing a foundation for a life of fulfillment and success.

We should all support education policy that respects the dignity of every student, fosters a diversity of approaches, and is open to the free flow of ideas and innovation. Education freedom is not merely some conservative rallying cry.

It’s a communal charge to place the students first. To take yourself out of the equation and to focus on the future needs of this country. It’s time we find and fund a new approach to meeting our students’ needs.

A recent report by The Beacon Center indicates that only 53 percent of education funding from the state makes it into the classroom to teachers and students.

The rest is used up by administrative costs. So again, it’s time that we provide legislative solutions that will fund students, not bureaucracy. Our community must work to transform education away from this current top-down standardized model to a bottom-up system that enables every family and student to customize education that best matches their values and their priorities.

Education should not be a formulaic standardized approach that only occurs early in life or only happens in formal learning institutions. Rather, it should enable students to learn about themselves and develop their interests and aptitudes by building relationships of trust and respect with their educators and peers.

Students become curious, creative, and productive learners when they build independence in support of relationship-rich environments. Education should not be anchored to the idea that the ultimate goal is to get a degree or a certificate.

Rather, it should enable students to find out how the world works and the principles that undergird it empowering them to develop the habit of lifelong learning. Education should not be a zero-sum exercise to sort and rank children.

Rather, it should enable students to discover how they can create value in this society through what they find fulfilling. Every kid is more than a score. A student’s educational opportunity should not be limited by their family’s wealth or income.

Both families and teachers should work together to unlock a student’s potential and pause for effect, Michael. Here it is. We can do that right here in Tennessee by supporting the following policies during this next legislative session.

One, modernize the public education funding system to allow for backpack funding where the dollars follow the students. Two, expand educational savings accounts access so that all families can access this. Three enact many ESA’s or scholarships that any parent can easily access, including homeschoolers.

And four, allow students to freely transfer to other public schools if there are open seats available. And I’ll finish with this everyone. John Locke told us that the well educating of children is so much the duty and concern of parents and the welfare and prosperity of the nation so much depends on it. It’s time we start giving families choice, and it’s time we start funding students, not bureaucracy.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.


















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