Supporters of TISA plan talk potential improvements

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 21:09:37-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This week Gov. Bill Lee's office released a list of about 100 groups they say signed on to support the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement bill.

However, many do so, only if the bill is improved in the future.

The list contains both rural and urban groups that said they agree with the decision to switch from the 30-year-old Basic Education Program funding formula.

However, some groups have posted statements that temper their support with areas they feel the TISA plan needs improvement.

Nashville Public Education Foundation is one of them.

They called TISA a significant improvement in a statement, pointing to the promise for increased funding in the plan.

Then, they said this:

"Certainly, aspects of TISA could be improved to better support Nashville's students, such as how the state is economically disadvantaged and how cost differential factor could help reconcile higher living and labor costs in areas like Davidson County."

The statement goes on to say the group would push for more amendments to the idea.

Then, there's the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, who released a similar statement.

Ben Simpson, the Chief Policy Officer of the chamber, said the state should make sure the plan is funded correctly. He was concerned with children in urban areas being accounted for.

"For us, it's how they're identified," Simpson said. "If you're doing a survey or your drilling down using the free lunch, the types of mechanisms that you reach out to a community and do that don't always capture all of it. There are students in our system that do not raise their hand and say I fit this definition. Those are the types of things that we're talking about."

Simpson said he'd like to see new ways to make sure those children aren't forgotten or somehow weights that apply to them aren't triggered.

Other groups, like the NAACP of Tennessee also signed onto the list.

However, many skeptics remain.

They include Amy Frogge, a former Metro Nashville School Board member and now a self-proclaimed activist for public education.

"I think a lot of people have bought into the talking points where this is about equity or increasing funding for students across the state," said Frogge. "I hear a lot of talking points from legislators who say we have failing schools, we spent years trying to fix it, the BEP is a broken formula. The real problem is that the BEP has never been fully funded in the 30 years it's been in existence."

The TISA bill was funded in the budget on Thursday. Lawmakers still have some work to do on it.

The law wouldn't take effect until another full school year passes.