Governor Lee’s Voucher Program Clears Another Legal Hurdle

Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) plan, often portrayed as a voucher program, won another legal challenge filed by opponents of the controversial legislation that targets Memphis and Nashville schools. A three-judge panel appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and made up of Chancellor Anne Martin, Judge Tammy Harrington, and Judge Valerie Smith, has ruled that the parties challenging the legislation have no legal standing. As a result, all challenges are dismissed.

This action, at least temporarily, removes all legal hurdles facing the 2019 Education Savings Account law. The law provides money for families to offset private school tuition, should they choose to pursue that option due to inadequate traditional school options.

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Independent Women’s Forum’s Angela Morabito on Poor and Minority Kids Trapped in Failing Schools

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Visiting Fellow for the Independent Women’s Forum, Angela Morabito to the newsmaker line to explain how white Democratic liberals are trapping minority students in failing schools.

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Tennessee’s Inflation-Adjusted K-12 School Spending Increases Lower than Most States: Report

Tennessee’s per-pupil spending on K-12 public school students, amongst the lowest in the country, increased an inflation-adjusted 18 percent from 2002 to 2020 while its student population grew 13 percent, according to a new study from the Reason Foundation.

The study looked at spending increases across the country, where spending per student increased $3,211 per student, or 25 percent. In Tennessee, the raw data showed that the 18 percent increase amounted to $1,704 in inflation-adjusted spending per student.

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Pennsylvania Education Secretary Steps Down

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced on Friday that his Secretary of Education Noe Ortega is stepping down and that Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Hagarty will replace him.

The administration said Ortega will be presently dedicating his free time to his family and mulling potential next career steps. 

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Michigan Education Department Touts Video That Makes False Claims About School Funding

The Michigan Department of Education posted a document on its website that encourages people to watch a YouTube video about systemic racism, but it contains inaccurate information about finances in the state’s public school system.

The document was published in July 2020 by an entity called the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council two months after George Floyd was killed in Minnesota by a police officer, and while riots were taking place in many U.S. cities. The document promotes and links to a video titled “Systemic Racism Explained,” telling visitors it “is a good place to start.” But the video suggests that Michigan school districts which service low-income communities get less funding than others. The claim is not accurate; the reverse is true.

The video tells a story of two youths – an African-American child named Jamal and a white child named Kevin – and how their school districts are funded. The fictional students are said to live a few streets from each other.

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State Representative Chris Todd of Jackson, Tennessee Talks Redistricting, Education, and School Board Recall Elections

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed (R-TN-73) State Representative Chris Todd of Jackson to the newsmakers line to comment on redistricting, education, and top priorities.

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Tennessee Department of Education Received Over 1,300 Public Comments Submitted on Potential School Funding

The Tennessee Department of Education announced over 1,300 public comments have been collected on a potential new school funding formula. The department made the statements available to the public and can be seen here. The statement said comments came from “hundreds of parents, educators, superintendents, elected officials, business and community leaders, and citizens from across the state.”

“Tennesseans recognize what a historic moment in time this is for education in our state, and I want to thank those who submitted public comments as part of our engagement process on a potential new funding formula for Tennessee’s public schools,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.“As has been shared in subcommittee meetings, at town halls, on social media, and at local meetings, a new public education funding formula for Tennessee must be centered around our students so that we can ensure our children can thrive in the classroom and be successful after high school.”  

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JC Bowman Commentary: School Funding, Vouchers, and the ASD

It is back to work for state legislators. The first week of the legislature has been very busy. While criticizing politicians is a national activity and a form of amusement for many, the truth is that most of these folks are good people, working hard, and trying to do the right thing for our state. It is always the good, bad, and ugly in any political system.

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Commission Passes School Upgrade Funding Recommendations to Virginia General Assembly

Virginia’s Commission on School Construction and Modernization recommended actions for the General Assembly and the Governor to take to help fund upgrades and new construction in schools.

A June report to the Commission found that 41 percent of school divisions are at or above capacity, and 29 percent are nearing capacity. More than half of school buildings are over 50 years old, and divisions in Western Virginia, Southwest, and Southside have the oldest buildings with a median age of 58 years.

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Ohio Senate Voting on Budget Bill, Restricted Abortions

The Ohio Senate is set to vote on its version of the state’s two-year, $75 billion budget.

The main items in the Senate’s budget plan, which is similar to the budget on which the Ohio House voted in April, are an income tax cut, along with increased school funding. 

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Crom Carmichael Discusses How Democrats in Power Move Further Left and Republican Stagnancy

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to compare Democrats in power versus the stagnancy of Republicans.

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New Ohio School Funding Plan Goes Before Legislature

Calling the way Ohio funds public schools unpredictable, confusing and inadequate, Ohio lawmakers want to overhaul the system with a formula that could mean a $1.99 billion increase in funding. Changes could come sooner rather than later.

State Sens. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, and Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, introduced a bill Thursday that teams with a current house bill. It would change how the state determines the cost of educating a student, along with how the state decides how much a local district should contribute to that cost.

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New Ohio School Funding Plan Goes Before Legislature

Calling the way Ohio funds public schools unpredictable, confusing and inadequate, Ohio lawmakers want to overhaul the system with a formula that could mean a $1.99 billion increase in funding. Changes could come sooner rather than later.

State Sens. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, and Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, introduced a bill Thursday that teams with a current house bill. It would change how the state determines the cost of educating a student, along with how the state decides how much a local district should contribute to that cost.

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District Court Blocks Betsy DeVos COVID Rule on Private School Funds

A judge blocked an Education Secretary Betsy DeVos policy on Wednesday that transfers COVID-19 relief funds from public school districts to private schools, Politico reported.

U.S. District Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs, order Thursday, blocking release of additional relief funding to private schools.

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Buckeye Institute Files Amicus Brief in Lawsuit Over CARES Act School Funding

An Ohio think tank has entered the fray in a federal lawsuit over a rule the U.S. Department of Education issued for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act includes an Education Stabilization Fund to help schools cover costs to safely reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The law directed the education department to distribute these funds “equitably” between public and private schools and students.

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Analysis: The School Funding Inequity Farce

Leading presidential candidates and major media outlets are claiming that school districts with high concentrations of minorities and poor children generally receive less funding per student than other districts. That hasn’t been true for at least half a century, but people are spreading this myth through deceptive studies that exclude federal funds.

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Creative Math By Knox County Schools and Gannett Reporter Imply State Cut District Spending By $6M When In Fact Contribution Increased By That Amount

A Knoxville News-Sentinel reporter last week shared the local school superintendent’s creative math to accuse Gov. Bill Lee of cutting education spending by nearly $6 million, when in fact the state’s BEP contribution had increased by that amount. On April 1, reporter Tyler Whetstone tweeted, “New today – @GovBillLee‘s BEP…

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Professional Educators of Tennessee to Conduct Legislative Survey

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Professional Educators of Tennessee is conducting a legislative survey of educators across the state. Frequent areas that we hear from educators:  School Safety & Security, Teacher Compensation and Recruitment, School Funding, and Assessment.  We believe policymakers need to address these issues in 2019,

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