NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – New details are emerging regarding Governor Bill Lee’s attempt to rewrite Tennessee’s 30-year-old school funding formula. Newly revealed audio from a February 3rd Education Steering Committee meeting gives insight into plans to possibly outsource some teaching jobs.
Under the threat, teachers say the state’s goal shouldn’t be to outsource their jobs but to create an environment to attract and retain the best and brightest public school teachers.
But, despite few details and some concerns, Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn are moving full steam ahead to make reforms to school funding in Tennessee. However, teachers are cautioning those in power to not rush.
“We have to slow down and get it right,” said Tennessee Education Association President Beth Brown.
New focus on the attempt to reformulate school funding comes as Schwinn floats outsourcing some teaching jobs to private companies.
During the exchange with an Education Steering Committee member.
Committee Member: “The district could contract with a local nonprofit to do and provide the art,”
Edu. Commissioner Penny Schwinn: “Yes absolutely.”
Committee Member: “The district…So that you can create the discussion was around public-private partnerships where could you look and find partnership so in its essence you could double your money.”
During a February 3rd education steering committee meeting, Schwinn revealed new details on how the state could attempt to look to private businesses to take on teaching roles.
Committee Member: “They wouldn’t necessarily have to employ an art teacher.”
Schwinn: “That’s right.”
Committee Member: “They could provide the art curriculum by partnering with a third party.”
Schwinn: “That’s 100% accurate, it’s a funding plan, not a spending plan.”
Teachers aren’t happy with the vague ideas coming from Tennessee’s leaders.
“The idea that just anybody could step in, off the street and do what educators do is quite frankly — it is insulting, it is disrespectful and it’s one reason that we’re seeing educators so demoralized and thinking about leaving the profession,” Brown said.
While Tennessee ranks near the bottom in student funding for education, advocates say more money not privatization is needed.
“How can we make people want to enter this profession and stay in the profession so that we don’t have any sort of shortage issues, but two, how can we support the schools right now with providing the resources they need? Let’s not talk about outsourcing as the solution, let’s get to the heart of the problem and address that,” Brown said.
Tennessee underfunds public school education to the tune of about $2 billion annually.
The Education Commissioner’s office said they refute the claims adding there were no discussions about outsourcing teaching jobs.
Governor Lee is looking to reveal his funding proposal sometime within the next couple of weeks.