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TN ED REPORT: IS SEXTON SERIOUS?

IS SEXTON SERIOUS?

House Speaker Cameron Sexton offered some concerning commentary on school funding ahead of an expected announcement this month on Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed changes to the state’s school funding formula (BEP).

Meghan Mangrum highlighted the comments in an article published in the Citizen-Tribune out of Morristown:

It seems the Speaker is not all that familiar with how schools actually work. The suggestion he makes here is that teachers and schools lack the proper incentive system. That is, schools fail students because there’s no threat of losing money no matter the outcome. This reflects a fairly depressing view of humanity. Further, it suggests that Sexton believes that teachers are currently “holding back” simply because they don’t fear punishment.

If only a punishment-based incentive system were in force, Tennessee teachers in every school system would rapidly accelerate learning, Sexton seems to be saying.

This type of thinking is especially alarming as the state considers revamping the school funding formula. Gov. Lee has promised a “student-centered” approach but has also stopped short of calling for more overall spending.

Here’s an analogy that might help explain the flaw in Sexton’s approach. UT Football has experienced a bit of a resurgence in recent years, but most fans would admit the last decade has been pretty rough. Under Sexton’s approach, the right answer is to offer less resources to the football program and then that will motivate them to get better and thus “earn” better resources. Want 10+ wins each season? Deduct $100,000 from the coach’s pay for each win under 10. Then, when the team only wins 6 or 7 games, take some more cash away so that they’ll be fired up to get after it next season. Maybe if the defense has a really bad game, the next game they could play without helmets? Surely, the proper punishment-based incentive will yield the desired results.

Of course, some have speculated that the whole movement on the part of Lee to change the BEP is really about a backdoor path to school vouchers:

In any event, I’m sure teachers across the state are working hard and polishing off all that knowledge they’ve been holding back thanks to the threat of lost resources made by Sexton. Once the punishment-based BEP formula is in place, I’m sure only good things will happen. In fact, I bet such a system will cause a rapid influx of people into the teaching profession in Tennessee – if only policymakers in previous years had thought of such a plan, Tennessee would be at the top of the nation by now.

Here’s a piece on merit pay that addresses (to some degree) the type of incentive plan Sexton may be envisioning:

And, here’s a piece that makes the argument for an across-the-board increase in school funding:

Finally, a note on the importance of raising teacher pay – not simply as a means of addressing the teacher shortage but also as a key factor in improving student achievement:

When teachers get paid more, students do better. In one study, a 10% increase in teacher pay was estimated to produce a 5 to 10% increase in student performance. Teacher pay also has long-term benefits for students. A 10% increase in per-pupil spending for each of the 12 years of education results in students completing more education, having 7% higher wages, and having a reduced rate of adult poverty. These benefits are even greater for families who are in poverty.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

DESPITE SEXTON’S THREATS, HANCOCK COUNTY PUTS KIDS’ SAFETY FIRST

DESPITE SEXTON’S THREATS, HANCOCK COUNTY PUTS KIDS’ SAFETY FIRST

Despite skyrocketing COVID-19 hospitalizations – including the deaths of children – this week at a press conference Tennessee Speaker Cameron Sexton warned school districts that if they dared to take measures to protect their kids by instituting mandates, separating unvaccinated kids, or closing schools if needed, he would ask Governor Lee to call a special session to punish them for it.

So much for “small government” or “local control”, right?

Well it didn’t take long for one Tennessee county to defy Sexton’s threats. And it wasn’t the county you might expect, either.

It wasn’t Davidson, or Shelby, or Hamilton, or even Knox – all of which are bigger cities and generally more prone to Democratic leadership.

Yesterday, after seeing a spike in cases among students, HANCOCK COUNTY, under the leadership of Dr. Charlotte Mullins, became the first county in East TN (Shelby is keeping theirs) to decide to implement a mask mandate anyway, despite Speaker Sexton’s threats.

We called Dr. Mullins up there in the Northeast part of the state to ask her about her decision to blaze this trail. She says she was just trying to keep kids safe and keep the schools open, and that politics did not factor into her decision. Imagine that! That’s what leadership should sound like.

What follows is a transcript of that conversation.

HOLLER: This decision was made when?

DR. MULLINS: It was made late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). We started school on Monday thinking we could start without masks and hoping for a safe, positive school year – but we had several children test positive yesterday, and several more that had been in contact who were pending test results. So we felt like we had to make a decision quickly.

HOLLER: And were you aware of the press conference Speaker Sexton had prior, essentially threatening to call a special session if school districts did that?

DR. MULLINS: I am aware of that, but at this time I had to try to take care of our students here in Hancock County. No disrespect toward any state official. I feel like it was necessary for our county.

HOLLER: What did you think of them taking the position that no school district should be able to do that if they felt it was right for their students?

DR. MULLINS: I can’t comment on why they felt the way they do about it. At this time I want us to be able to have school. I want our students to be safe. I want our teachers to be safe. And our regional health department made the announcement that if our students wear a mask inside the classroom we wouldn’t have to quarantine them. And for the most part we aren’t having pushback in our county.

HOLLER: Were you aware you were the first county in East Tennessee to do that? To issue a mask mandate? (Shelby County is keeping theirs in Memphis)

DR. MULLINS: Not until it was on the news.

HOLLER: It seems like this wasn’t political at all. You were just trying to keep kids safe. Is that right?

DR. MULLINS: Not a bit. I realize the statements that were made, and I knew those were in place, but this was just more important. This is so important that we try to keep our kids safe so we can have school.

HOLLER: You blazed a trail here, and did something pretty brave. Some might even say heroic. Other districts may follow suit, and when they do people may look back at what Hancock County did and appreciate it.

Hancock County’s Official Statement:

Hancock County students returned to in-person instruction Monday, August 2, without a mask protocol, hopeful of a safe, positive school year.  By Tuesday afternoon, significant changes in local covid data prompted our system to consider additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our students.  Based on guidance from the CDC and the regional health department, and with respect to all local and state leaders, Hancock County Schools issued a mask directive effective Wednesday, August 4.  This measure was taken to protect the health of our students, teachers and staff, while continuing to provide high quality in-person instruction.  We would like to thank students, parents, and community members, as well as, Tennesseans from across the state for the tremendous outpouring of support for our decision. We will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation and adjust procedures as necessary to ensure the safest learning environment possible for our students.

 

Many other (bigger) districts have meetings in the coming days about their own mask rules. It will be interesting to see how their decisions end up after Dr. Mullins and Hancock County blazed this trail, wittingly or unwittingly. They deserve a lot of credit for taking politics out of it and focusing on the health of the children, even in the face of threats from Speaker Sexton and the legislature.

 

REP. GLORIA JOHNSON ON “UNHINGED” SPEAKER SEXTON’S THREATS

Watch the FULL INTERVIEW with Rep. Gloria Johnson about Speaker Sexton’s “unhinged” presser threatening to call a special session to punish school districts that take measures to keep their students safe.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

“A Bill-Jacking” – How TNGOP Stole Rep Johnson’s Bill

Testimony Against Rep Ragan’s Anti-Trans Healthcare Bill

Reps Jerry Sexton, William Lamberth, and Bruce Griffey have the AUDACITY to accuse Dr. Kristin Rager of testifying against Rep Ragan’s anti-trans youth healthcare bill for FINANCIAL INCENTIVES.
Interesting that they’d attack a DR for that but not business executives & developers.

Constituents’ Letters to Petty Speaker Sexton

PODCAST: A Charter School In California Shows What Can Happen

A new WNYC podcast episode discusses the concerns brought up in charter commission hearing this week.

It centers on Marin County, California, where a new charter school took resources from a public school, leaving many (black) kids behind and segregating the schools.

If you have the time, it’s a worthwhile listen— not that it will change the hearts of pr0 “school choice” legislators, but it offers some perspective that the legislators pushing back against what they call “choice” are actually thinking about the kids left behind – who this podcast gives voice to – not trying to hold the kids they’re trying to help back.

Unfortunately at the end of the day education funding is a zero-sum game, which is why adding money to the pot – as Democratic legislators called for this week – is really the best way to help all our kids.

HIGHLIGHTS: TN STATE CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION CANDIDATES

WATCH Rep. Jerry Sexton – who said “we all make mistakes” about a child sex abuser and a KKK Grand Wizard – press candidates to ignore potential harm caused to cash-strapped public schools.

“That ? belongs to those parents, not traditional public schools.”

The GOP disdain for public schools on full display. This logic will further devastate them. www.TNHoller.com

TN Dems Call On Rep. Curcio & Speaker Sexton To Keep Their Word, Hold #ExpelByrd Hearings

Tennessee still has an admitted child sex abuser sitting in a State Rep seat.

Now that the Attorney General has said expelling him would be constitutional, it’s time for Tennessee Republicans to stop harboring him.

HOLLER AT THEM HERE:

Rep.Michael.Curcio@capitol.tn.gov 615-741-3513 

speaker.cameron.sexton@capitol.tn.gov 615-741-2343

The 78 Year-Old Woman Arrested for Growing Marijuana

“I was 78 and got arrested for growing marijuana.”

Flo Matheson ran against Cameron Sexton and Diane Black, but was arrested for growing marijuana because someone “snitched”.

It’s time to move forward on medical marijuana to give addicts, veterans and more another way to treat their pain. “GET HONEST” – Flo to Rep. Kumar, who stands in the way.