Tennessee Pastors Call for Adequate Funding for All Schools

Advocate Andy

Southern Christian Coalition says Gov. Lee's funding formula changes hurt local districts

In a media event today, a group of pastors and parents affiliated with the Southern Christian Coalition said Gov. Bill Lee's school funding formula proposal, known as TISA, fails to provide adequate funding for all Tennessee schools.

Rev. Laura Becker, Pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, opened the virtual press conference sharing that her children have been in the Hamilton Public School system since 2008. “We are here today as pastors in the state of Tennessee, calling on our legislature to adequately fund our public schools, and invest and care for the children of Tennessee, knowing that they are each made in the image of God. All Tennessee students deserve the right to high quality and fully funded education that prepares them to achieve their full potential and successfully contribute to our communities and to our state. Unfortunately, from threats to dissolve school boards, to corporate private charter schools that make money from public schools, Tennessee's Supermajority Republicans are doing everything to avoid dealing with the fact that Tennessee provides less in state funding per student than almost any other state in the country. 

Becker specifically addressed the TISA school funding overhaul being advanced by Lee:

“I've been following some of Governor Lee's new school funding plan usually called TISA, and unfortunately, it just isn't enough and it isn't right. Instead of addressing the issue at the root by funding our public schools as much as every other state, this new funding plan would still require too much funding from local governments.

"This so-called ‘student centered funding approach’ shows a clear motive of Gov. Lee and the Supermajority Republicans that they have of privatizing our public schools and turning our tax dollars over to private schools and corporate funded charter schools."

Rev. Dr. Donna Whitney also shared why public school funding is a priority to her as her daughters graduated from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

"The goal of our school funding system should be to ensure that all children, all children, no matter where they live, or the challenges they face, have the opportunity for a public education that prepares them to be responsible and productive citizens. The purpose of funding public education is to ensure that there are adequate resources to serve the educational requirements of all children. And that funding is distributed equitably, so that all children can access equal educational opportunities.

"Unfortunately, Governor Lee's TISA funding plan is neither adequate nor equitable, while claiming to be student centered, the TISA plan now before our legislature is anything but truly student centered. TISA is actually corporate centered, using students as vehicles to escort dollars, our public tax dollars out of public schools and into corporate treasuries.”

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN
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