The Republican super-majority in the Tennessee legislature introduced legislation to strip away the the power of the school boards in Memphis (Shelby County) and Nashville to authorize charter schools.
The power would be moved to a state authority.
This move is retaliation against the Metro Nashville school board, which rejected an application from the Great Hearts charter school academy of Arizona. The school board rejected Great Hearts four times! The problem was that Great Hearts wanted to open in a mostly white, affluent neighborhood and had inadequate plans for student diversity.
In an exposé in the Arizona Republic a few months ago, Great Hearts was singled out for dubious financial self-dealing. See here and here. Arizona blogger David Safier reported last fall that Great Hearts expects each family to make a contribution of at least $1500 to defray costs.
Metro Nashville decided it didn’t want Great Hearts to open in its district.
Nashville’s insistence on turning down this particular application infuriated State Commissioner Kevin Huffman (whose prior experience is limited solely to TFA). Huffman withheld $3.4 million that the state owed to Nashville. The governor and legislators were angry too that Nashville acted to exercise local control. They are now talking about vouchers.
Huffman and the state’s far-right Governor and legislature are determined to privatize as many schools as possible as quickly as possible in Memphis and Nashville.
Local control be damned!
Question: why are the Republicans in Tennessee so determined to destroy public education in their state? Has anyone in the state read the research on charters and vouchers? Or are they taking marching orders from ALEC?