Sunday, December 03, 2023

MNPS board chair Anne Elrod lashes out at Gov. Lee's proposed Education Saving Account program expansion.

by Rod Williams, Nov. 29, 2023- MNPS board chair Anne Elrod has lashed out at Gov. Lee's proposed Education Saving Account program expansion. She calls the program "moral and fiscal malpractice." While the ESL has been available only to low-income families in Memphis and Nashville, Lee has proposed expanding the program across the state and eventually making it available to any student in Tennessee, regardless of income. 

One of the arguments against the program is that it siphons off dollars that would otherwise go to a local school district.  It is true that when a district educates fewer children, they receive less money. However, it cost more to educate a child than the amount of money the local district receives in tax revenue so actually, for every child leaving the local district the district is financially better off. 

Of course, if one is more concerned with having a large organization to manage than with insuring students get a good education, then opposition to the program makes sense.

I understand some of the opposition. Part of it is people simply don't like change. People like doing things the way they have always done them. Also, there are vested interest in continuing to do things the way they have been done. Teachers fear losing their job if the number of students enrolled in a district decline. And there are vendors and others with an interest in maintaining an educational monopoly. In some counties the local school system is the largest employer in the county. 

I also think many people with a concern for minorities and the "marginalized," see the government monopoly of education as a way to achieve equity.  If there is school choice the most promising students will leave the system and the traditional public schools will be left with the mediocre students. Those who leave will excel and by comparison those left in the traditional public schools will look worse. Some would prefer a mediocre average than some students achieving excellence. 

Passing this state-wide will not be a slam dunk. In some smaller counties, the local high school and its football team provide community identity. This will have to be sold.  If this is passed, there will be growing pains. It will take a while to put in place all of the safeguards to ensure accountability. Also, there must be safeguards to assure financial accountability while ensuring the State does not get in the business of dictating curriculum. However, this is the right thing to do, and the time is now. 

Below is Ms Elrod's statement. 

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  1. Last year metro ranked 93 out of 95 for students graduating high school on time and this year metro moved backwards.

    Sonya Thomas with Nashville PROPEL, a Nashville schools advocacy group is not surprised.

    “This is a prophecy of not teaching children how to read. And of course, they will not graduate high school, Thomas said.

    “We know based on research that children have received poor instruction for decades,

  2. ms erode I mean elrod thinks failure is an option- with the above statistics and she wants to shut down one of the highest