Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday 1/20/06

I'm clearing off the desktop here.

School Funding--
Adam Groves posted at Bill Hobbs the news from the Commercial Appeal that the state Comptroller John Morgan suggested

the state provide complete funding for public schools, leaving local governments with only their construction costs. The state would create new revenue to cover the cost of fully funding school operations by assuming control of the local share of state sales tax and imposing a new state-wide property tax.
Adam comments:
The fact of the matter is that the Comptroller, by his own admission, concludes that Tennessean tax payers will pay more for this scheme in the long run. If tax payers are paying more, it's hard to reconcile any pitch that includes the notion that governments will save money. How can tax payers end up paying more and the government save money? You don't need more money if you're spending less.
Adam's exactly correct. And, I'll add, this is a move in the wrong direction. Schools need to be funded and controlled locally. According to Mr. Morgan:
To generate the money, the state would seize half of the proceeds from local sales taxes and impose a new state property tax. Morgan said the impact on taxpayers would be largely offset by reductions in local taxes as cities and counties are freed from funding most school costs. Commercial Appeal
Reductions in local taxes...yeah, like that's going to happen.

KIPP: Nashvillians of the Year--

The Nashville Scene awards this prize to this Nashville charter school and more than adequately justifies it with comments like this:
KIPP Academy characterizes itself as a rigorous, college-preparatory middle school where students are taught to “work hard, be nice and be honest.” Just as significantly as behavioral sea changes, achievement among these children, more than 90 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced meals, has soared. During the summer, median class scores showed students were performing at the second-grade level in reading and math. Now students are performing at the fifth- and sixth-grade levels in math. Reading scores have seen similarly dramatic improvements. As recently as October, 10 students were still reading at the second-grade level; now only three do. And, in October, 12 students were reading above grade level; now 23 of the students are.
You need to know about this school. We need to have the freedom to create more schools like this. I was impressed with what they had done in Memphis. I'm glad to read they've done well in Nashville. Let's have these popping up all over the state.

Another scandal, TSBA--

Will it ever end? I'm so weary of reading about more and more scandals. I'm not telling anyone to quite revealing them--bring it all on--but I'm tremendously grieved that this lying, stealing and mismanagement is so pervasive.

Tuesday's Tennessean has details.
"We all believed very much in him [retired executive director Dan Tollett]. Basically, whatever he recommended people trusted him. It was like whatever he said, it was accepted," said Gloria J. Sweet-Love, president of TSBA.
Folks, we've got to stop doing this. We've got to stop being so trusting. We've got to put in legitimate accountability measures and we've got to stop being offended when people ask for that accountability.

Related to this school board lobbying organization is an article the Fall 2005 Insider titled "Taxpayer-funded Lobbying: Tax man vs. Taxpayer. (It's in .pdf format)
Peggy Venable writes:
"Taxpayer-funded lobbying clearly distorts the democratic process. Government should not be in the business of providing funding to give voice to points of view that may not represent the views of the majority of the taxpayers."
I whole-heartedly agree. One part of the government shouldn't be lobbying another part of the government to get more money from taxpayers, or limit citizen input and control. While the members of these organizations are citizens and taxpayers they've got a conflict of interest that should mute their voices.

And kudos to the Bradley County School Board for taking a stand:
The Bradley County Board of Education has zealously guarded the taxpayers' money, and it is diconcerting to learn that a similar respect for public monies was not a priority with the leadership of the TSBA. from Bob Krumm

Way ta go, Drew!--

I love this story. Drew Johnson of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research was curious enough about a closed door in the newly renovated hearing room at the capital to actually open it. And what a surprise. A cozy little get away for legislators.

"I noticed a door in the front corner of Legislative Plaza's Room 12 that I assumed to be a coat closet. When I opened the door, I was shocked," Johnson said. "It was like something out of a Capra movie — a small room with a huge conference table and smoke lingering in the air."
The room's placement behind the senators' official seating suggests it would be uncomfortable for Joe Citizen to barge in. From the Tennessean
And that's because the only way to get to the room is by stepping behind the seats of the legislators to get there.

I'm so glad Drew opened that door. There's a lot of that going on and we need to keep it up until there isn't a square inch down there for anyone to hide.

Speaking of scandals--

My question what point does Ophelia Ford's legislative benefits kick in and how much are they? If she stays through the special session are they at one level? Do her benefits increase once the regular session begins?

Lottery numbers--

The Chattanooga Times-Free Press has done a great overview of the lottery and those scholarships. Looks like keeping that qualifying score low wasn't really a good idea.
Educators have said the 50 percent attrition rate for scholarship recipients is common in states with lotteries, but Jeri Fields-Rampy, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp., said the scholarship turnover rate is worrisome. Tennessee Student Assistance Corp. is the state’s designated federal guaranty agency for lottery scholarships and other state and federal tuition assistance programs.
"It’s definitely a number everyone would be concerned about, having that many students lose it after the first year," she said. "We want to use the monies in the best and most efficient way possible, and the best way is to work on that turnover number."


Anonymous said...

Great summary! Thank you!


Kay Brooks said...

Your welcome! Thanks for reading. :-)