LIVE: BUSTING REPUBLICAN ABORTION MYTHS (with Francie Hunt)

Francie Hunt of TN Advocates Planned Parenthood joined us to walk through a Republican talking points memo on abortion and set some things straight.

PODCAST HERE.

12 MINUTES WITH REP. LEATHERWOOD, SPECIAL STRAIGHT PEOPLE MARRIAGE LICENSE SPONSOR

We spent 12 minutes talking to Rep. Leatherwood, whose bill to give a special marriage license to straight people went globally viral because it also might have legalized child marriage if it hadn’t died.

We may not have made much progress, but it was an honest frank discussion and we thank him for talking to us.

FREEMAN’S VICTIM-ADVOCATE PROTECTION BILL KILLED BY GRIFFEY & THE GOP

INTERVIEW: ED FUNDING OVERHAUL BILL SPONSOR REP. MARK WHITE

We spoke with Rep. Mark White for 10 minutes about charter schools and Governor Lee’s potentially poisonous ed funding overhaul.

TN STUDENTS HELP KILL BOOK BAN & LIBRARIAN CRIMINALIZATION BILL

HAYES RIPS GOP “GROOMING” HYPOCRISY

MUMPOWER WON’T TALK ABOUT GETTING SUED BY MASON

TN Republicans (Cepicky, Ragan) Go To Bat For Hitting Kids 😳

INTERVIEW: TN Ed Commish Penny Schwinn on the Charter Schools Flood & Funding Formula

After a press conference to introduce the new plan to overhaul how public education is funded in Tennessee, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn sat down with us for 5 minutes to talk to us about the concerns many are having that Lee’s true intentions are to privatize the public education system by flooding Tennessee with charter schools and allowing public dollars to flow to the private entities that run them.

Here’s Holler editor Justin Kanew’s op-ed in the Tennessean about that “Hillsdale Heist” this week.

Our question was simple: Can Governor Lee promise that the funding overhaul paired with the state charter approval board overriding local school board decisions about charter schools will not lead to LESS funding for traditional public schools in the long run?

They very clearly are making no guarantees about this. Governor Lee abruptly left the press conference when we asked, instead repeating their line that “charter schools are public schools”, which they are not. Charter schools are only public in that they receive public dollars, but just because something receives public dollars doesn’t make it a public entity – just ask every single defense department contractor.

This is an issue that will keep coming up as Governor Lee continues to use it as an excuse to funnel public dollars to the private, ideologically-driven (and yes religiously-driven) entities he is inviting to bring HUNDREDS of charters to Tennessee.

We have been trying to get Lee and Schwinn to talk to us about this. To her credit, Schwinn finally did sit down with us. Below is that conversation in its entirety – but the basic gist is Schwinn is insistent the new funding formula is separate from the charter school influx, and the Lee administration is adamant that charter schools are public schools, and therefore they do not intend to put a cap on how much funding can flow to them, or how many students can leave public schools to go there (with the “student based funding formula” helping the money follow them).

Many advocates feel it all amounts to a death knell for Tennessee public schools, which are already towards the bottom of the country both in terms of performance and funding.

A 2019 U.S. Department of Education study found that there was no meaningful difference between the eighth graders in charter schools and public schools when it came to math or English proficiency, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called “the nation’s report card.”

If you agree that the privatization/voucherization of our public education system is not in the best interest of ALL of our kids, the time to speak up against this is now.

Here’s our full conversation with TN Ed Dept Commissioner Penny Schwinn:

EXPLAINED: GOV. LEE’S “STUDENT-BASED FUNDING FORMULA” MONEY GRAB

LEE’S NEW PUBLIC SCHOOL MONEY GRAB COMES INTO VIEW

 For months Governor Lee has been touting his new “STUDENT BASED FUNDING FORMULA” which he says will revolutionize how Tennessee funds our public schools. The plan has been very short on details by design, but after the press conference he gave yesterday we now have enough clues to understand what’s really going on.
Previously, Governor Lee did all he could to get private school vouchers passed, even reportedly offering military promotions as bribes to squeak it through the house. Unfortunately for him, the courts held up his unconstitutional plan (SO FAR).Now, instead of steering public dollars to private schools, Lee has begun a partnership with HILLSDALE COLLEGE, a private Christian school in MICHIGAN with close ties to BETSY DEVOS led by Larry Arnn, who Trump appointed to lead his history-whitewashing “1776 Commission” in response to the 1619 Project.

In the State of the State, Lee talked about bringing in Hillsdale to teach our kids to be “informed patriots”, by which he means he wants to fill their heads with propaganda and avoid them learning the the harsh truths of our past.

What Lee didn’t mention in his speech was the fact that he has apparently asked Hillsadale to bring 50-100 CHARTER SCHOOLS to Tennessee, which Arnn mentioned at a meeting in Franklin last September in AUDIO WE UNCOVERED THIS WEEK:

“Governor Lee wanted 100 charter schools in TN.”

When asked about it at a press conference yesterday, Lee did not deny it. He instead leaned into it, saying CHARTER SCHOOLS are a big part of his plan, and repeatedly making a point to call them “PUBLIC” schools – by which he means they’ll be taking our PUBLIC SCHOOL funds.

So instead of strengthening our public schools and funding them properly, Lee is telling us he’s willing to pour another $1 BILLION into our schools BUT ONLY IF WE ADOPT HIS STUDENT-LED FUNDING PROGRAM – which would mean those dollars would follow kids to Charter schools like these Hillsdale schools.

Charters are privately run enterprises. Now Lee thinks he can dodge the accusation of “Steering public funds to private schools” by saying these charter schools are “public schools”, but as someone said recently: Calling charter schools “PUBLIC” because they get public funds is like calling defense contractors public companies.

This has clearly been the plan for a long time. Even the MOMS FOR LIBERTY WILLIAMSON COUNTY CHAIR has been posting about the Hillsdale Charter school planned for Williamson since last year – and we’re told a petition has been pulled in Montgomery county as well.
They want our (underfunded) public school funds to send their kids to what will essentially amount to a publicly-funded private school.

It’s an attack on our public schools. A heist. They’re steering our public school funds towards a network of private schools by another name, run by a Trump loyalist who wants to whitewash our history and fill kids’ heads with propaganda.

And to top it all off, Lee has rigged the charter approval process. So even when communities vote to REJECT these schools, a state board handpicked by the governor can overrule these local decisions.

Worried yet? You should be. Strengthening our public schools should be our top priority. This new “STUDENT-BASED FUNDING FORMULA” SCHEME is just a new way for Governor Lee to steer our public dollars to private companies run by his friends, and he’s using these “PUBLIC” Charter schools as a vessel to do it… and our public schools will suffer.

Florida’s ed commish praised Lee and put it in this distasteful way at Hillsdale College👇🏽WATCH: “YOU CAN’T PUT THE ANIMALS BACK IN THE BARN”😳 – meaning once kids go to a charter school, we have no choice but to keep sending them money because you can’t force them to go back.

OUR QUESTION: Is Gov. Lee’s attempt to use public funds to create a network of private schools (while calling them “public”) even constitutional? Hopefully someone smarter than us can figure that out.

We’ll be here to cover it, and that’s thanks to your support, so Please consider chipping in monthly if you’re not yet doing so, even if it’s just a few bucks – the monthly support truly keeps us going. 

The Holler

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