Posts Tagged ‘charter schools’

It’s Time to Chart-er a New Course

It’s Time to Chart-er a New Course

Sit in on a Metro Nashville School Board meeting or turn to any Tennessean article that mentions education, and you’ll hear quite a bit of charter school bashing. If you only listened to certain school board members, you would think that charters are the spawn of Satan himself.

Too bad that when the results come out, it’s traditional public schools that should be sent to the principal’s office for bad behavior. A recent report shows that the number of “priority schools”—or those performing so poorly that they are subject to being taken over by the state, and potentially converted to charter schools—has nearly tripled. There are now 15 low-performing schools in Nashville, up from six last year, and none of which are those despised charter schools.

The problem is that when you point your finger at someone, the other three are always pointing back at you. Our anti-charter school board members need to end their tirade and do a bit of housekeeping. Casting blame on the wrong party, especially the schools that are consistently out-performing their peers, does nothing to better educate our children. In fact, it appears it’s only made things worse.

-Justin Owen

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August 21st, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

An Idea a Day: A Roadmap to Freedom

An Idea a Day: A Roadmap to Freedom

Every other year, the Beacon Center publishes “An Idea a Day” for each remaining legislative day of the current General Assembly. This year’s publication offers a roadmap to freedom, providing 57 ideas for the second session of the 108th General Assembly. Click here to download the full roadmap, or scroll through the ideas below, broken down by category.

Taxes

Repeal the Hall Income Tax on stocks and bonds, alleviating the burden on low-income retirees and inviting wealthy individuals to move into Tennessee to invest in job growth.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Scale back corporate taxes on all businesses, which are per capita the highest of all bordering states.
Read “Corporate Welfare Infographic” at bit.ly/16EIq67

Place a limit on the growth of local property taxes unless approved by voters via referendum.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Cut the Real Estate Transfer Tax by one-third, ending the unnecessary state purchasing of wetlands and forestland.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 9 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Review and eliminate all taxes and fees that cost more to enforce than is collected in revenue therefrom.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Eliminate the cattle tax that funds the Beef Promotion Board campaign, which uses tax dollars to urge Tennesseans to eat more beef.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 6 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Spending

Base the state Copeland Cap on population plus inflation growth, limiting government spending and allowing Tennesseans to keep more money in their pockets.
Watch Justin Owen’s Copeland Cap Testimony (46 minute mark) at bit.ly/17f6D8e

Make the Copeland Cap more stringent by requiring a supermajority vote of the legislature to “bust” the cap.
Watch Justin Owen’s Copeland Cap Testimony (46 minute mark) at bit.ly/17f6D8e

Enact a provision that will automatically return surplus revenue to taxpayers after topping off the rainy day fund.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 24 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Establish an independent spending commission to recommend spending cuts to the governor and legislature.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 24 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Require a waiting period of 72 hours between the time in which an appropriations or revenue-related bill is introduced and a vote is taken.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 12 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Get the government out of the golf course business by selling state-owned golf courses or leasing courses that operate at a loss.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 7 at bit.ly/17CQqty

End the failed switchgrass-to-ethanol program that has cost taxpayers more than $60 million yet has failed to become commercially viable.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 17 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Education

Allow parents across Tennessee to take a portion of the funding already spent on their child and send their child to the school of their choice.
Read “The Choice is Ours” at bit.ly/YtQcLw

Grade all public and charter schools based on academic performance and learning gains with easy-to-understand A, B, C, D, or F grades.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 25 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Ensure that school districts meet the national standard for the percentage of spending that goes into the classroom, curbing out-of-control administrative costs.
Read “Following the Money” at bit.ly/16WFC4G

Create alternative teacher certification paths, encouraging successful business and community leaders to enter the teaching profession.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 27 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Refuse efforts by President Obama to expand Pre-Kindergarten, a costly program that has failed to provide long-term benefits to Tennessee children.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 26 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Remove roadblocks to online and blended learning opportunities that provide additional options for children of various backgrounds.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 29 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Healthcare

Refuse the unaffordable and immoral push to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
Read “Medicaid Expansion Infographic” at bit.ly/XEhyBH

Allow Tennesseans to purchase health insurance from any state in the country.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Repeal laws that favor employer-based insurance over individually-purchased insurance that has more portability, and urge Congress to do the same.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Permit young Tennesseans to purchase more affordable “mandate light” health insurance plans.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Provide state employees with a consumer-driven health insurance plan option with a health savings account in lieu of their current plan.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Reform medical licensing and scope of practice laws to address doctor shortages and expand Tennesseans’ choices when seeking healthcare services.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Repeal protectionist Certificate of Need laws that limit access to healthcare services.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Property Rights

Prohibit the forced sale of property via eminent domain.
Read “Eminent Domain No Excuse for Property Abuse” at bit.ly/1aa7rJE

Require approval of local legislative bodies before unelected and unaccountable agencies can take private property using eminent domain.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 57 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Treat regulations on private property as “takings” and provide property owners with compensation when regulations diminish the value of their property.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 58 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Give existing owners an option to receive equity stake in a redevelopment entity when their property is taken as part of a redevelopment plan.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Require government entities to follow foreclosure proceedings rather than use property condemnation in order to better protect property owners.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Permit a referendum of voters when their property is subject to annexation by a nearby city.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Regulation

Reduce the number of occupations requiring a license, currently at 111, which makes Tennessee one of the most heavily regulated states in the nation.
Read Justin Owen’s Economic Liberty Act testimony at bit.ly/vJr82i

Enact an economic liberty act requiring the government to prove that all new occupational regulations directly impact the health, safety, and welfare of Tennesseans.
Read Justin Owen’s Economic Liberty Act testimony at bit.ly/vJr82i

Eliminate titling acts that require Tennesseans to obtain government permission to use certain occupational titles.
Read Justin Owen’s Economic Liberty Act testimony at bit.ly/vJr82i

Allow Tennesseans to purchase wine in grocery stores, eliminating the liquor industry’s monopoly over the product.
Read “Drunk with Power” at bit.ly/18aijnL

Target methamphetamine production rather than impeding the purchase of cold medications by law-abiding citizens, and prohibit local governments from restricting such sales.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Prohibit unelected government regulatory boards from increasing occupational fees without approval by the legislature.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Eliminate the minimum wage and prohibit local “living wages” that make it more difficult for many Tennesseans to find gainful employment.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Prohibit local governments from imposing new mandates on businesses that are inconsistent with and more stringent than state law.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Government Reform

Reform asset forfeiture laws to eliminate any financial incentives for law enforcement to seize private property.
Watch “NC5 Investigates: Policing for Profit” at bit.ly/lRyTY6

Allow the private sector to assume responsibility for non-essential government services that could easily be handled outside of state government.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Prohibit local governments from using taxpayer money to lobby the state or federal government.
Read “The Dangerous Cycle of Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying” at bit.ly/18ahjzU

Change the rules of the game so that the individual incentives of judges, lawyers, juries, and other legal actors motivate them to act in the larger social interest.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Enact reforms that punish the most violent criminals and provide a pathway back into society for rehabilitated offenders.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Amend the current policy that allows the Supreme Court to choose the Attorney General, thus removing the conflict of interest for selecting our state’s top lawyer.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Prohibit state and local governments from using tax dollars to fund failed experiments to provide high-speed Internet to the general public.
Read “We Need to Shine the Light on Electric Utilities” at bit.ly/1gu2SyZ

Enact a law that provides for stronger financial management systems in local governments.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 25 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Transportation

Refuse to force taxpayers to fund local mass transit projects with state taxpayer money.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Replace the current gasoline tax with a more responsible vehicle miles traveled tax, with protections in place to prevent privacy infringements, to fund transportation infrastructure.
Read “There’s More than One Way to Pave a Road” at bit.ly/1cGpxrh

Allow private investments in infrastructure through public-private partnerships, thus increasing transportation funding and reducing the burdens on taxpayers.
Read “There’s More than One Way to Pave a Road” at bit.ly/1cGpxrh

Convert existing HOV lanes to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, allowing unaccompanied drivers to pay a fee to use the under-utilized lanes.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 50 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Cronyism

End corporate handouts to select businesses, which allow government to pick winners and losers.
Read “Corporate Welfare Infographic” at bit.ly/16EIq67

End all special treatment of alternative energy that distorts market conditions and puts taxpayer money at risk.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 47 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Eliminate financial incentives to the film industry that provide no real benefit to Tennesseans and instead send taxpayer money to Hollywood producers.
Read “Corporate Welfare Infographic” at bit.ly/16EIq67

Terminate the state’s Greenbelt Law that provides massive tax breaks to the wealthy while purporting to protect farmers.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 15 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Eliminate the costly TNInvestco program that has failed to live up to its promises of substantial job creation despite a significant cost to taxpayers.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 5 at bit.ly/17CQqty

December 3rd, 2013 | Feature, Policy

Education funds not being spent wisely

The op-ed below by Justin Owen, Benjamin Clark, and Alexandria Gilbert outlines the findings of Beacon’s new education spending study. This article originally appeared in Wednesday’s Tennessean. A similar article appeared in Sundays’ Knoxville News Sentinel (subscription required).

by Justin Owen, Benjamin Clark, and Alexandria Gilbert

These days, virtually every discussion about public education in Tennessee fixates on issues of funding. Tennesseans are continuously told that their schools are among the worst funded in the country and that all that is necessary to fix failing schools is to pour more money into them.

In a new Beacon Center of Tennessee report, we decided to look more deeply into this issue. First, we analyzed how much taxpayers actually spend on education in Tennessee. Second, we tracked where that money goes, and finally we sought to determine whether there is any correlation between spending and student achievement.

Surprisingly, our study found that not only do we already spend a significant amount on public education, the total cost of education is underreported by about 11 percent statewide. Metro Nashville takes the underreporting prize, spending a full 27 percent more than reported. More accurate figures show the district spends more than $14,000 per child, per year.

And where that money goes is troubling. Of the total amount spent statewide, barely half goes toward instructional expenditures such as teacher salaries, textbooks, supplies, etc. In Metro Nashville, an appalling 44 cents of every dollar goes directly to the classroom. This is significantly less than the minimum standard of 60 percent that should be allocated to instructional spending, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Where does the rest of that money go? Administrative expenses eat up a growing chunk of education dollars. Between 2000 and 2012, administrative expenses per pupil rose from $450 to $793. Even worse, Metro Nashville officials have nearly doubled the amount they spend on administrative expenditures per pupil.

Much of this represents a substantial rise in the number of administrative personnel. Since 2000, the number of administrators statewide has grown by nearly 35 percent. During the same time period, teacher personnel has increased by less than 17 percent, while the change in the number of students was a mere 7 percent. Not only has the number of administrators risen more dramatically than teachers and students, their salaries have outpaced teacher salaries as well.

Unfortunately, this focus on administrative growth has failed to lead to results. By conducting in-state and state-versus-state comparisons, we could find no measurable correlation between spending and student performance, primarily failing to find a link between this newfound administrative spending and academic growth.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, many school districts spent less yet outperformed their similarly situated counterparts. This lack of correlation between spending and outcomes should spark a deeper debate about real reforms.

There is much opportunity for reforms such as empowering parents through school choice, paying teachers better and rewarding them based on merit, encouraging business and community leaders to enter the teaching profession.

Simply throwing more money at the problem is not the answer. Instead of spending more on public education, school districts should spend education funds more wisely. Only then can we expect to provide our students with the quality education they deserve.

Justin Owen is president and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Benjamin Clark and Alexandria Gilbert are research associates at the Beacon Center and co-authors of “Following the Money: A Tennessee Education Spending Primer.”

September 4th, 2013 | Commentary

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