Democrats announce plan for sweeping changes to state education system

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Posted at 10:06 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 23:07:04-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — State democrats promise to introduce sweeping legislation that would change the BEP and give $1.5 billion to the state education system.

Wednesday morning, a group of lawmakers from the house and senate said they wanted to rework the basic education program to better reflect the needs of Tennessee.

The democrats said, currently, schools and teacher's classrooms are underfunded and understocked.

"Education, and the education of our children and what is to be the future of our state should be the number one priority in the state," said Memphis State Rep. Antonio Parkinson. "We should ensure giving our children a true opportunity and not just a facade of saying we're doing all of these great things when we're actually not."

Lawmakers said they would introduce a series of bills before the February 5 deadline. One would place a school nurse in every school in the state.

The major announcement was the money for the school system. $1.5 billion is a substantial increase, but one that wouldn't fix Tennessee's education woes.

"That gets you maybe out of the bottom 10," said Nashville Senator Jeff Yarbro. "That's assuming nobody improves. That's not getting to the place of doing the most innovative work. That's getting out of the basement in the states from a school funding perspective."

Parkinson said adding the funds would move Tennessee away from Mississippi as far as funding rankings go. Currently, TN is ranked among the bottom 10 states for education.