Public Education: Part 2

I want to take a moment to revisit the topic of public education, more specifically about testing, funding and TNReady.

We’ve already seen that #TNReady has failed our students in the worst way. After last year’s disastrous testing period, the state is now turning its sights on more high-stakes standardized testing – as if our kids need more time taken away from instructional class time.

Except this time, the state department of education wants to raise the standards even higher by switching to grading scores, according to an article published in The Tennessean. The state argues that if they switch to grading scores that are aligned closer to a national test such as the ACT, then the state's assessments will provide a more accurate picture of how prepared students are for college and for life.

My opponent, Glen Casada, is a big believer in standardized testing. This is not the solution.

Lately, I’ve been talking to voters about what their priorities are, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak weekly on WAKM 950 AM radio about public education. My campaign team has knocked on about 7,000 doors in District 63, and one of the questions I ask is, “What are the issues you care about in Williamson County?” Of course, traffic is the #1 complaint, but a close second is that residents love our public schools and want to keep them strong. People want our schools to stay at the top. People want our teachers to be paid more. And people, especially in Thompson’s Station and in Nolensville, believe we need to build more schools because of overcrowding. Well, all of this takes money.

The solution to improving academic achievement is not more testing, but rather, investing in fully funding our schools, which I intend to make one of my top priorities in the state house. What does it mean to fully fund our public schools?

It means investing in our teachers to increase teacher pay, making sure Williamson County Schools gets its fair share of the Basic Education Program (BEP) state dollars, and finding creative solutions to supplement state funding. Currently, WCS gets about half of BEP funding compared to other districts. Yes, this county is affluent, and yes, we are thankful to have parents and PTOs that can make up for a lack in funding, but for the single mom that lives on a fixed income or the child that gets free-and-reduced lunch, it’s important that I fight for this funding if I’m elected.

My opponent has waged a war on teachers and educators by blocking legislation that would allow collective bargaining between the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) and local school boards, which ultimately strips away the TEA’s ability to advocate for increased teacher pay. If elected, I’ll be an advocate for teachers and make sure their voices are heard.

Join me on Election Day in putting better leadership in the House who will ensure that our teachers are adequately paid and our public schools continue to be the best in the state for years to come.