Sep 18 2012
11:51 am

Reports are circulating that Gov. Haslam and the State of Tennessee have pulled BEP funds from Nashville schools after the local school board refused to approve a charter school the state was promoting. There was also talk the other day about state-level charter school approvals to bypass local school boards.

UPDATE: Huffman pulling $3.4 million in funding "as a consequence of the district's refusal to follow state law." Full statement...

UPDATE: Metro Nashville Public Schools: "We are very disappointed." Full statement...

bizgrrl's picture

Yowza! That'll teach them.

Yowza! That'll teach them.

R. Neal's picture


TN Dept. of Education:

"...the state is withholding approximately $3.4 million of non-classroom, administrative funding from the school system... The state chose the non-classroom funds to mitigate the impact on students."

From the above link to the MNPS statement:

"BEP is a funding formula and not a spending plan, so there are no funds earmarked for 'administrative costs.' The BEP formula for non-classroom expenses includes utilities, student transportation, maintenance and other things that directly affect our 81,000 students and 5,000 classrooms. None of these items are in any way linked to charter school approval processes."

R. Neal's picture

This is pretty outrageous.

This is pretty outrageous. The administration is acting like a bunch of thugs and shakedown artists.

Stick's picture


And I fear that it will work.

Min's picture

No big surprise there.

The Haslam administration's handling of the Occupy Nashville protesters pretty much set the tone.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


This is now a national story, appearing in today's Education Week magazine.

R. Neal's picture

Thanks, good article. Money

Thanks, good article. Money quote: "A spokesman for Haslam said Tuesday that the governor agrees with the state department's decision to withhold funding, saying the Nashville board's actions had run afoul of the law."

Tamara Shepherd's picture



For the benefit of anyone just tuning in to this debate over the proposed Great Hearts Academy schools in Nashville, I searched the KV archives to share a post I'd made on the subject back in May of this year.

In that May post, entitled In Black and White: Resegregation Indisputable per Annual TN Charter Schools Rpt, I had linked from the Department of Education's website the state's own damning Tennessee Charter Schools Annual Report 2011, which was released a month earlier, in April of this year. I went on to preview the Great Hearts Academy debate then unfolding in Nashville.

I found my May post in the KV archives, here, but my link to the state's April report no longer works because the state pulled the report off its site!

What's "interesting," per my above opener, is that the state Department of Education now has a new Tennessee Charter Schools Annual Report 2011 up at its site, this one dated July 2012 (rather than April) and stripped of the damning re-segregation data!

Confound that "obscure liberal blog???"

Anyway, it looks like at least 53 people read and voted for my link to the original April 2012 DOE report. Maybe they printed it, too. Maybe I did...somewhere in these paper piles at my elbows.

Mello's picture

this one?

R. Neal's picture

see also

This previous discussion of charter school RFPs.

Seems Knox Co. Schools and the KNS editors are all on board for privatizing public schools, while Nashville schools have come to their senses after getting kneecapped by thugs and grifters.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yes, that's the original report, Mello! Thanks!

Take a look at the school-level data on pdf pages 19 and 20 in that original report, detailing the volume of free and reduced meal students in each of these existing charter schools, especially the Memphis ones.

Then cross reference that data to the data at our State Report Card for free and reduced meal students in those the same school systems (the Report Card characterizes these students as Economically Disadvantaged, not Free and Reduced Meal students; same population, tho).

You'll easily substantiate my May 2012 post charging that many of these charter schools have begun serving a lower percentage of poor students than do the school systems in which they exist--and that's contrary to the rationale we were originally given for why we needed charter schools, namely to serve this problematic student population.

This is quite the bait-and-switch tactic the DOE has employed.

R. Neal's picture

Jamie Hollin with a quote

Jamie Hollin with a quote from charter school lobbyist Matt Throckmorton:

"A statewide authorizer, they are not engaged in the local discussion, the personalities and the neighborhood. So they are going to look at it strictly on the merits of the application. That is what we want.”


This quote alone should send shock waves to every school board and school director across the state. Mr. Throckmorton, as reported in The City Paper print edition, is already busy drafting the enabling legislation for next session.


Stick's picture

Ahhhh... A lobbyist drafting

Ahhhh... A lobbyist drafting legislation. Now that's democracy!

R. Neal's picture

Now that's democracy! The

Now that's democracy!

The best that money can buy!

KC's picture

Huffman is a lackey,

Huffman is a lackey, completely in over his head, if he was even trying to have an influence, but he isn't; just a lackey.

Haslam, about the same.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Nashville Parents Explore Trigger Law to Takeover Schools

From the Tennessean

Dissatisfied parents and elected officials from West Nashville are exploring a never-before-utilized state law that would allow a public school to be converted into a parent-controlled charter school.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Whoa. Thanks, Lisa--I'd missed that story.

About Councilwoman Evans' comment here:

Evans said converting an existing public school into a charter does not come with the same criticisms about diversity that Great Hearts faced. She said any school facing a possible conversion would presumably maintain same diversity numbers.

I wonder. My understanding is that charter schools don't have to provide transportation or meals. Surely their declining to do so would affect the ability to attend the new charter among the poorest students in any school converted?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Here is your financier of the new feature-length pro-charter school movie, Won't Back Down, which Lisa's Tennessean article indicates is premiering at Nashville's Regal Opry Mills 20 theater next week.

The movie's billionaire financier Phillip Anschutz owns Regal, too.

And Anschutz also bankrolled the 2010 pro-charter school movie Waiting for Superman.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Also, Sara Jerving with the Center for Media and Democracy comments on Won't Back Down and offers an excellent overview of parent trigger laws here.

Her intro:

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down” -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called “Parent Trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

More on Parent-Trigger

Here's another story from the Tennesseean on the debate surrounding the parent-trigger law and the possible effort by affluent West Nashville parents to activate it in Tennessee.

If schools are failing, someone needs to take action, said Todd Meyers, a Bellevue parent who hoped to send his kids to Great Hearts instead of Hillwood High School, where they’re zoned.

It was difficult for Meyers to say under what measure Hillwood is failing.

The school didn’t land on the state’s watch list this year, but its average composite score on the ACT college entrance exam was 17.8, the most recent Tennessee Education Report Card revealed, compared with a state average of 19. The graduation rate was 82 percent, compared with the state’s 86 percent.

“It’s failing to meet my expectations,” Meyers said. “We’re probably moving back to Williamson County or to Wilson County. I don’t really want my kids in private schools.”

Further in the article, there's a discussion about the failed attempt to pass a parent-trigger law in Florida, which was primarily supported by former Governor Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Opponents didn’t like the law’s ability to open the door for private, for-profit companies to make money off public schools. State Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston, Fla., Democrat who’s running for governor, pointed out that charter schools are 18 of the 38 failing schools in the state.

“As far as we could tell, it has nothing to do with this claim it empowers parents,” she said. “As soon as that 51 percent is signed, the parents lose their power to these for-profit companies.”

A 2010 U.S. Department of Education study of charter schools showed no evidence that charter schools, on the whole, raise achievement more than regular public schools. Poor students tend to get more benefit from them than wealthy students, who actually posted a drop in math scores compared with regular school counterparts.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


From reader comments in this second Tennessean article Lisa links, commenter Bill Tyler offers this sharp observation:

...'invitation-only screening (of the new pro-charter movie Won't Back Down) at Opry Mills, introduced by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean'.

Invitation Only: This completely sums up the charter movement and the mayor's approach.

This Invitation Only event is the equivalent of separate fountains for a rally of misguided advocates.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Another reader comments in this second Tennessean article that Great Hearts Academies in Arizona ask parents for a "voluntary" $1200 (or more) donation and also charges them for their students' textbooks.

I haven't yet researched the Great Hearts site, but I see that Diane Ravitch links at her blog (September 12) a previous Tennessean story making the same allegation:

One Great Hearts school requests a $1,500 contribution.

The only mandatory fee is a refundable deposit of $35 per textbook, (Great Hearts president) Bezanson said. If a parent cannot afford it, the fee can be waived without a lot of paperwork, he added.

The websites show different requirements, though. They say parents must submit a $25 application to an outside party along with tax documents. That company will determine whether parents are eligible for a waiver.

The schools also ask students to purchase other books for reading the classics of the Western canon that are so much a part of the curriculum, but Bezanson said schools will loan those books to students if needed.

Class fees of $120 are required for workbooks, student planners, assemblies, field days and ceremonies, according to at least one of the school’s websites, but again Bezanson said the fees are not required.

I can't see the 75% of Nashville's students who are Economically Disadvantaged and lacking lunch money "volunteering," can you???

Rachel's picture

Nice catch by Tom Humphrey.

Nice catch by Tom Humphrey.

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