Posts Tagged ‘nashville’

Non-Government Gig Hits Nashville

Non-Government Gig Hits Nashville

Today, news broke that AT&T will bring Gigabit Internet service to Nashville. This is a significant investment and a clear sign that when the government stays out of the market, private investment follows and businesses thrive.

Unfortunately, we have also seen the other side of this coin. Last week, Chattanooga petitioned the FCC to allow an expansion of its government-owned Gigabit network—financed on public dollars, carrying a price tag of more than $550 million for taxpayers and ratepayers.

These subsidies have created an unfair advantage for the Electric Power Board (EPB), the public operator of the network, making it difficult and unappealing for independent networks to compete. Yet, despite these unfair advantages, EPB has struggled to capture a considerable share of the local market. Just some 4,000 of Chattanooga’s 173,000 residents are surfing the Internet at high speeds through EPB.

To make matters worse, EPB President Harold DePriest remarked that his employees had the pleasure of spending like drunken sailors. Of course, that’s easier to do when it’s taxpayer money and not your own bottom-line.

Fortunately, the largely conservative and more fiscally responsible Tennessee General Assembly has refused to allow Chattanooga to expand its public network. Yet, Chattanooga government officials believe they’re entitled to their subsidized growth and have now turned to the federal government and the FCC. And while I would love to see the same fiscal restraint from the federal government that has been displayed by our General Assembly, I am not holding my breath. 

I will, however, be closely watching a bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Marsha Blackburn that would prohibit the FCC from trampling on states’ authority to limit the growth of government-owned networks. After all, most of us wouldn’t expect the government to mow our lawns, run our restaurants, repair our homes, or offer many of the services provided by the private sector, so why should we ask them to provide us with Internet?

- Justin Owen

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July 28th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News

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

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