Advocacy Group Says TN School Funding Reform is Inadequate

Advocate Andy

Group notes 91 school districts will receive a lower percentage of state funds with new plan

Pastors affiliated with the Southern Christian Coalition are raising concerns about Gov. Bill Lee's new school funding formula even as legislation enacting the plan moves forward in the Tennessee General Assembly.

The group released a statement explaining why they believe the plan is flawed. Specifically, they cited evidence suggesting 91 school districts (roughly 2/3) will receive a lower percentage of state funds under the plan.

“Most Tennesseans believe that every student deserves a quality education, regardless of their color, background, language they speak, or where they call home,” said Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings “But unfortunately that’s not happening here in Tennessee. Governor Lee's proposed funding formula ‘TISA’ still doesn't adequately or equitably fund our public schools and it threatens to divert millions of dollars to private schools. If the new proposed formula were to pass, 91 districts would receive a lower percentage of state funds than under the current formula, including Metro Nashville Public Schools who would receive $40 million less from the state. So, I am calling on our elected leaders to reject these dangerous culture wars and diversion of public school funding to private charter schools, and instead fully fund our public schools with the resources they need so that they can provide every student with a quality education, without exceptions.”

The group noted that the proposed plan - TISA - does not significantly alter the status quo nor live up to the promises made by Lee.

“I call on our Legislature to adequately fund our public schools, and to invest in and care for the children of Tennessee, knowing that they are each made in the image of God,” said Rev. Laura Becker, Pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, and mother of one current student and one graduate of Hamilton County Schools. “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, Governor Lee’s proposed education funding plan called TISA doesn’t provide the funding necessary to address our teacher shortage, ensure students with special needs get the care they need, or ensure that every school has the resources they need to provide every child a quality education, so I call for a more just and equitable funding program.”

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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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