Posts Tagged ‘nashville’

Join FEE President Larry Reed in Nashville on June 3rd

Join FEE President Larry Reed in Nashville on June 3rd

The Beacon Center of Tennessee

Cordially invites you to attend a special event 
 featuring Foundation for Economic Education President

Larry Reed

“The Connection Between Liberty & Character”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
6:30 PM CT – 7:30 PM CT

Nashville City Club, 201 4th Avenue North, 20th Floor, Nashville, Tennessee 37219

While it is free to attend, space is limited, so please RSVP to Suzanne Michel at (615) 383-6431 or

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. A champion for liberty, Reed has authored over 1,000 newspaper columns and articles and dozens of articles in magazines and journals in the United States and abroad. His writings have appeared in The Wall Street JournalChristian Science MonitorUSA TodayBaltimore SunDetroit News and Detroit Free Press, among many others. He has authored or coauthored five books, the most recent ones being A Republic—If We Can Keep It and Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty. He frequently appears on national television programs, including those anchored by Judge Andrew Napolitano and John Stossel on FOX Business News.

May 20th, 2014 | Feature

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

TN Pork Report Unearths Half-a-Billion Dollars in Government Waste

TN Pork Report Unearths Half-a-Billion Dollars in Government Waste

NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee today released its eighth annual Tennessee Pork Report, exposing more than $511 million squandered by state and local governments over the past year. The annual report published by the Beacon Center, the state’s leading free market think tank and taxpayer watchdog, is the only one of its kind in Tennessee.

Examples of wasteful spending outlined in the 2013 Pork Report include:

  • A corporate welfare deal gone sour, costing taxpayers $95 million after Hemlock Semiconductor closed its plant and laid off hundreds of workers;
  • $73 million in improper unemployment benefits, including cash paid to existing state workers and the deceased, of which only $15.3 million has been recouped;
  • Wasteful film incentives to Hollywood elites totaling $13.5 million;
  • $800,000 to update a study to determine what to do with the vacant State Prison;
  • A campaign to urge Tennesseans to eat more beef at a cost of $235,000; and
  • An outrageous spending spree by a Rockwood city official, who spent $32,000 on an arsenal of guns, ammunition, cameras, clothes, and testosterone booster.

“Taxpayers will be angered to find out how their state and local officials are spending their hard-earned money,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen. “Whether it’s Solyndra-like corporate welfare disasters, lavish parties by government agencies, or rampant theft by public officials, this year’s report has it all when it comes to government waste, fraud, and abuse.”

The waste of taxpayer money found in the 2013 Pork Report comes from state and local government budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars. An electronic version of the report can be found at:

“Yet again, the Tennessee Pork Report arrives with disheartening news,” said Ben Cunningham, spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt, who participated in the report’s release. “Our public officials are poor stewards of our tax dollars, and the only way to stop it is to arm all Tennesseans with this information so that they can hold those public officials accountable.”

The Beacon Center of Tennessee is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. The Center’s mission is to change lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.


June 26th, 2013 | Feature, Policy

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