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Tennessee teachers, students, and parents to rally against new K-12 funding approach

Posted at 6:25 AM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 08:32:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Dozens of Tennessee teachers, students, and parents are calling on Gov. Bill Lee and the Department of Education to "prioritize students and not corporations."

They will rally at the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) hearing that will be held Thursday, July 28 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Anyone who attends the hearing either in-person or virtually will be given the opportunity to speak for three minutes, time permitting.

“Thank you to the thousands of Tennesseans, including our legislators, districts, schools, educators, families, and students, that have continued to stay engaged throughout this process,” said Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I am thrilled by the level of engagement we have received on the proposed rules so far, and I encourage and invite all Tennesseans to attend this public hearing to share feedback and comments as we move forward and prepare to implement the TISA.”

TISA is taking over the Basic Education Program. It is the base funding for each individual student, but there are weights for a specific student's needs. One of those weights used to be for charter schools.

Tennessee's K-12 public schools will transition to a student-based funding approach and invest an estimated $9 billion in education funding for the state, including state and local funds.

Supporters said this funding plan is superior to the current plan because it focuses on funding particular student needs.

Opponents have said this all happened way too fast. saying dozens of amendments were added to the bill. Lawmakers complained many people voting didn't fully understand what it could do.

The rally at Thursday's hearing is organized by Tennessee for All.

“Teachers across the state, if elected officials ever care to listen to them, share a commitment to build a Tennessee that works for all of us,” said Liv Cook, a special education teacher from rural East Tennessee. "We deserve better than being bought out by businessmen and legislators who wouldn’t dream of ever signing up to even be on the sub list."

Rally-goers will urge the governor to disband the charter authorization board and refocus on investment in public schools.

“Please stop the draining of resources from public schools in the disguise of vouchers. Please stop the over-proliferation of underperforming charter schools targeting Shelby County and Davidson County. Tennessee has one of the highest graduation rates in the country in spite of being in the bottom percentile in the southeast region. Abolish the Achievement School District now. Stop the exploitation of public education in Tennessee," said Reginald Fentress, universe director at United Education Association of Shelby County.

The TISA Public Rulemaking Hearing is happening at the Ellington Agricultural Center, Ed Jones Auditorium. It's located at 416 Hogan Road in Nashville.

Attendees can also dial in via phone by calling: 615-270-9704; conference id: 442 791 926#.

Additionally, the department will continue to accept written public comments on the proposed rules for the TISA Act through August 2, 2022. Comments should be e-mailed to Tisa.Rules@tn.gov or mailed to the following address:

Tennessee Department of Education, Andrew Johnson Tower, 9th Floor
710 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243
ATTN: TISA Rules.