Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Charter bill moves

2009-06-17 @ 08:50 AM This morning the House Education committee reconvened and passed on to the Government Ops committee Rep. Beth Harwell-Halteman's (R-Nashville) charter school bill.

The bill was stripped of previous amendments and then had 4 amendments added. One amendment was offered by Rep. Harwell. Rep. Ulysses Jones (D-Memphis) interrupted to say this was his amendment and was to be offered on the House Floor instead. The amendment was then removed from the bill and will 'travel with the bill' to the House Floor where Jones will move to add his amendment which will require that the at-risk students in failing schools will have priority in attending these charter schools. Then other at-risk students will have to participate in a lottey for any open slots.

The bill with the 4 amendments passes on to Government Ops which is about to meet.

Amendment 1 states that only districts with 14K students or more or LEA's failing AYP 2 consecurtive years and on the State's high priority list are eligible. Districts can opt in after 2/3ds of their BOE's vote to opt in. Charters can run 10 years with a mandatory review at 5 years.

Amendment 2 Caps Charter schools at 90 for the entire state. Maximum of 20 in Davidson County and 35 in Memphis (it pays to have a Memphis heavy Ed Committee, I guess).

Amendment 3 was offered by Rep. Les Winningham (D-Huntsville) on behalf of Rep. Tommie Brown (D-Chattanooga) who was 'delayed'. It requires tracking of these students and reporting of information like funding and movement of students (if I understood Winningham correctly.)

Amendment 4 was again offered by Winningham for Brown (who was still 'delayed) which would 'encourage' systems with charters school to use stimulus funds, "Race to the Top" funds to try other innovative schools such as magnets.

All amendments passed. The bill itself apparently got just one noe vote. Don't know who at this moment.

Commenter Jamie tells us the two no votes were Rep. Judy Barker (D-Union City) and Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville)


Wendy said...

I would say that dispite Memphis public schools increasing grades, test scores and attendance much more needs to be done to help these students. I think the number of Charter school maximums are set because of the needs of the students.

Kay Brooks said...

The maximums are set because of politics. It's not because it'll be enough to meet the demand/need. They know that or they wouldn't have set up a lottery.

There should be no cap on the number of these schools and they should be open to all students.

Jamie said...

Actually 2 no votes: Barker & Pitts.

Kay Brooks said...

Thanks, Jamie.

din819go said...

Kay -- I agree on the no cap. Charters should be open to all students. Hopefully, this will be revisted in the next few years and the cap will be either lifted or raised. My hope is this forces the school board and district off its duff into real reform and real education of Nashville's students. I doubt it but I can always hope...if not, as more charters are approved, we should see more and more default er zoned/failing MNPS schools close. That would be a good thing.