The Tennessee School Boards Association’s campaign, Stand Up for TN Public Schools, focuses on the importance of keeping public education from becoming a tool of any single group or person. The campaign seeks to enlist the support of community members from across the state of Tennessee to ensure that the future of public education remains in the hands of the community, which it serves. Local school boards keep the public in charge of public schools. In any given county, city or special school district the local board of education is the “voice of the people.” To keep that voice strong we must continue to Stand Up for TN Public Schools!
Who Should Stand Up For Public Schools?
The answer is simple: YOU!
Motivated people from all walks of life should support public education. Whether you are a parent, a political leader, a small business owner, a local or state decision maker, or a member of your community who believes in the American dream, when you take a stand for America’s public schools you help every child achieve world-class standards and a brighter future.
What is Stand Up for Public Schools?
The Tennessee School Boards Association along with the National School Boards Association launched a nationwide campaign, Stand Up for Public Schools, to increase awareness of the importance of public schools. Historically, communities have supported local, lay school boards to make certain that local schools serve the community effectively and equally.
The campaign focus is on maintaining the collective belief that public education should not be allowed to become a tool of any single group or person and that education exists to serve all people equally. Support for a strong system of public education is crucial. It is the backbone of our democracy and has made our nation a leader in the world.
Tennessee’s Constitution states: “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools.” This means:
- A tuition-free education for all students.
- The promise of equal educational opportunities no matter race, religion or ability.
- A commitment to high standards and high expectations for all students.
- A system of governance that ensures public accountability.
- A benefit to society by teaching democratic principles and common values.
“Only the public schools are legally required to accept and retain all students, no matter their race, no matter their religion, no matter their educational attainment, social class, family income, special needs, or personal characteristics. Only the public schools must guarantee that—within a legally enforceable range— the amount spent on each student will be equal from school to school within communities and across the state where those students reside.”
– Center for Public Education
Because education is such a determining factor in the future of individuals, governments, businesses and organizations of all kinds, its control has never been a simple matter.
Why Are Local Public Schools Necessary?
- “Public schools broke the link between accidents of birth and access to education that determined the social order for centuries. Public schools unleashed the creative intelligence of tens of millions of children both privileged and disenfranchised,” said speaker and public education advocate Jamie Vollmer. “America is the first country on the planet to aggressively pursue publicly funded, equal educational opportunities for all and the return on our investment has been glorious”
- “Creativity and innovation have stimulated a record of success, not burdensome government regulations, paperwork and mandates,” said NSBA Executive Director, Thomas Gentzel. “Despite the vastly different environment in which the education system now operates, a lesson learned nearly two centuries ago still applies: Schools are community assets, and their leadership is best entrusted to elected school boards who are directly accountable to the people they serve.”
Why Are Local School Boards Necessary?
- Voters elect their fellow citizens to serve on school boards and those boards make basic policy decisions about the schools’ direction and costs. Additionally, Tennessee law requires that those decisions must be made in open public meetings that give individual citizens an opportunity to participate.
- School boards allow representatives of the community to become well-informed and govern the schools in the best interest of the community.
- Through the operation of the local board of education, the control of education is kept close to the people of the community. Local school boards keep the public schools in the possession of the public.
- In any given county, city or special school district the local board is the “voice of the people.”
Why We Need to Support Local Public Schools:
Our local public schools need your support more than ever to protect our students from those who wish to privatize education through school vouchers.
A school voucher is a publicly funded credit or certificate that allows a student to enroll in a private school and apply the credit to tuition. Education savings accounts (ESA), which are similar to voucher programs, can be used to provide financial support to parents that want to send their children to private school or buy education related products and services. Many claim these programs will result in savings for states and taxpayers because students will be attending a private school instead of a public school. In practice, this does not play out, because school vouchers require states to fund both public and private school systems. Even voucher plans that allow school districts to retain some funding when students depart can ultimately students remaining in the classroom because of the fixed costs associated with educating children (classroom teachers, utilities, etc.). Students rarely transfer in significant numbers from a single grade at a single school. In most cases, vouchers draw students from everywhere in the district, creating little savings in the cost of operations and maintenance. Simply because one or two students in a classroom leave to attend private schools does not mean that the classroom no longer needs a qualified teacher, facilities, utilities and all other resources required for an effective learning environment.
Perhaps no other myth is more misleading as the one claiming these programs empower parents to make meaningful choices about their child’s education. Private schools are the entities that truly get to choose by only admitting the students they wish to accept – when, where and how. Public schools serve all students regardless of disability and special education status, family income, language proficiency, or academic standing. Voucher proponents argue that Tennessee relies on a ZIP code to determine a child’s access to education. The truth is that a locally elected board of education determines school zoning and which school a student will attend. This same elected board of education answers to the people, not private school administrators. Overall, numerous studies have found no clear advantage in academic achievement for students attending private schools with vouchers. Not only do vouchers benefit a limited and select number of students, statistical reports and test scores have debunked this myth and shown that a student does not have greater academic success just because they attend a private school.
Click here to take action.
What Can You Do?
The main goal of the Stand Up for Public Schools campaign is to provide local boards of education and community members with the tools and resources needed to begin a dialogue about keeping the control of public education within the local community. The campaign seeks to enlist the support of all citizens from across this great state to ensure that the future of public education remains in the hands of the community, which it serves. These resources can be found by visiting the “Take Action” tab.