NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A new education funding formula has been secured in the Volunteer State. The Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement Act (TISA) passed the legislature with some bi-partisan support.
The overhaul won’t be in place until a couple of years down the road. While there is heavy support, some say all the questions about the bill haven’t been answered.
It marks a victory for Governor Bill Lee, TISA will soon replace a 30-year-old funding formula most lawmakers say wasn’t working.
“We’re talking a billion dollars invested in public education that’s going directly to students, we’re increasing the base, we’re weighing the investment that we’re making on the state’s most vulnerable students—it’s hard for me to see a scenario where that doesn’t help kids broadly,” said Adam Lister, President/CEO of Tennesseans for Student Success.
Lister added the student-centered focus is a win for students from rural to urban areas. “So the ability for this program, or this bill, to fund those students, get them the resources they need ultimately helps towards our ultimate goal of getting students to a place where they’ve got a life that they can live that’s successful— allows them to be fully engaged in their communities, fully engaged in their economies.”
Despite some Democrats railing against Gov. Lee’s signature achievement, the final vote tally was bipartisan.
“I recognize that everyone has to vote as their district asks—I made that decision based on my service on the education committee and my district—I represent Shelby County Schools and Millington schools but I certainly understand why people had to vote the way they did,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis).
But some organizations like Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) wanted more answers to pressing questions and to slow down the law until Tennesseans had a better idea of what was in the plan.
NOAH released the following statement: “The current funding formula has been in place for 30 years. It’s very possible TISA will be with us for another 30 years so it’s critical we get it right for our children’s sake.”
Tennessee ranks near the bottom on education funding. The change in funding structure will begin in 2023.