I got an email from the chairman of the House Education Committee today:

It is important to realize that this is not just giving public money to private schools. There are strict guidelines that must be followed.
In order to qualify for this voucher a student must first be eligible for free or reduced lunches. And secondly, that student must be attending a school that is deemed a “failing” school by state authorities. Currently the only school in Knox County that would have students eligible to participate is Sarah Moore Green Elementary.

Harry Brooks is one of our more thoughtful Republican representatives and I know he has at least one kid. I don't have any kids. Unlike Senator Campfield, I won't pretend I would begin to know how to legislate what is best for them, but I find this troubling on a very basic level that I think anyone could understand. Is the entire notion of contemporary educational reform premised upon a foundation of abandonment? Or exile? Segregation? I'm struggling for words here, and our legislators are struggling for solutions. Help 'em out.

bizgrrl's picture

For the past four years, Vine

For the past four years, Vine Middle has received failing achievement grades across the board in math, reading and language arts, social studies, and science, according to the state's report card.

AnonymousOne's picture

Is McIntyre held accountable

Is McIntyre held accountable for ANY of this?

Or is he working on the next 5-year plan?

Talk about putting the cart before the horse; here we have a cart and NO horse.

cwg's picture

That may be the case, but

That may be the case, but Vine is not in the bottom 5% of state schools, as defined by the state Department of Education. Haslam's legislation, as currently written, would only apply to those schools, most of which are in Shelby County. You can read the full list here.

fischbobber's picture

From the same Knoxnews article

Beverly Bickford, who has a seventh-grader in Davis' class, said she didn't altogether agree with the idea of a reconstruction — a "radical reset" of the school that would mean all teachers and leadership would have to reapply for their jobs — because her experience with teachers has been a good one.

But she likes the ideas of turning Vine into a community school — a hub designed to help meet the out-of-classroom needs of students and residents.

"That in so many other ways addresses some of the concerns of what the parent is saying," she said. "It can be a bright spot in the community."

Eighth-grader Ja'Mesha Teresa said as a student the perception of the school has an affect on students.

"We all have trouble on our tests but it's because we have so many people coming to us telling us that Vine is so bad and putting us down," said the 13-year-old.

"We start to believe it. Stop taking us down; build us up."

Essentially an underperforming school is being rebuilt from the bottom up while still remaining open and teaching children during the restructuring they appear to be going through on a regular cyclical basis. It is hard on the kids, teachers and parents, particularly when, in Vines case for instance, the driving complaint is that, "You're not getting better fast enough." The political sleight of hand will involve reducing resources for other community and state schools to reduce the overall budget, through both charter schools and privatizing extracurricular activities. It's a quandary not likely to be solved without total commitment from the community at large, politicians, teachers, parents, administrators, taxpayers and the press. We're at a crossroads in America.

Stick's picture


That's the word you're looking for. The voucher schools will skim off the best and easiest to educate leaving the students most in need to struggle in increasingly cash-starved public schools. Recipe for success, no?

Min's picture

I may be cynical...

But I don't think I'm wrong to say that is exactly the intended result. The "good" kids will escape, and the "bad" kids, well, screw them and their lazy, ne'er do well parents.

fischbobber's picture


I think you have hit the nail on the head.

Campfield is the perfect stooge for this legislature. While he legislates problems that he invents in his own perverse mind, little by little our legislature is forcing not only the poor, but the middle class into facing extreme choices when it comes to their child's education.

The more a child succeeds, the more a public education costs. Parents are encouraged to dumb down their children in order to save money. The system works inversely to the American dream.

EricLykins's picture

In order to qualify for this

In order to qualify for this voucher a student must first be eligible for free or reduced lunches. Students eligible for free or reduced lunches are the best and easiest to educate?

Stick's picture

Remember, that is a proxy

Remember, that is a proxy used to represent poverty, usually for statistical analysis. You cannot think of that grouping as being homogeneous. There is a great deal of diversity that is masked by 'free or reduced lunches' along a host of measures including: learning disabilities, income, parental education, cultural capital, etc.

For an example look at the Milwaukee voucher program. Sorting.

AnonymousOne's picture

I'm not for vouchers because

I'm not for vouchers because they represent such a great opportunity for the misuse of public funding, and because I feel that this nation's unique and unifying strength has been its public school system.

zoomfactor's picture

Arbitrary entrance requirements

Why doesn't anyone ever talk about the fact that private schools will be allowed to screen applications from voucher-holding kids? Don't they have "entrance exams" to determine whether applicants are "worthy" of a private school education?

EricLykins's picture

Thanks, I knew there was a

Thanks, I knew there was a trick to the skimming and sorting I was missing.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is used to make sure you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.


TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

State .GOV

Wire Reports

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

Monthly archive