We all knew it was coming, but we held out hope anyway that after its messy battle with the MNPS school board, the state wouldn't take out its displeasure on Nashville schoolchildren. No dice. On Monday the Tennessee Department of Education announced that it was following through with its threat to withhold nearly $3.4 million in taxpayer funds from Nashville schools.
Steven Hale in The City Paper reports:
The state announced its intention to withhold the funds from Metro schools last month, after the Metro school board rejected Great Hearts Academies’ charter application in defiance of a state order. The funds will come out of “the non-classroom components of the state’s Basic Education Program funding formula,” according to the state, and will be reallocated to other districts.
While the state’s initial announcement claimed that it “chose the non-classroom funds to mitigate the impact on students,” MNPS said Monday that the “funds are used for a number of services that directly affect students and classrooms.”
There's a hard lesson in this for people who believe that Republicans are the party of "smaller government." What we're learning is that they don't want to actually put power back into the hands of the voters. They just want to consolidate power at whatever level they control. Since they run the state, they need to wrestle self-governance away from local elected bodies and impose their own rules.
But city officials are putting up a fight. Right? It's hard to read this and not remember Mayor Karl Dean on the issue last month, as reported by Joey Garrison in the CP:
Mayor Karl Dean, a Great Hearts backer, called the state’s action the “predictable result” of the Metro board’s “refusal to obey the law.” Dean did not criticize the state’s action.
“Sadly, once again, it is the children who will suffer, not just from being denied another high quality educational choice but also from the state’s plan to withhold funds,” Dean said. “In the final analysis, this boils down to an issue of responsibility and accountability on the part of our schools.”
It doesn't seem that long ago Dean was fighting the state over just such an override of local control, on the LGBT workplace-protection ordinance. So now he's tacitly siding with Haslam and Kevin Huffman against his own city schools? How does taking away funds not make Nashville's public school system worse, or not make it that much harder for the teachers and students in the trenches?
If some kids get hurt in the process, I guess that's just the cost of adapting to the new regime.