Friday, October 26, 2012

Speaker Harwell Ratchets Up Pressure for Great Hearts

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM

In rich people’s latest attempt to pressure our school board to accept Great Hearts Academies, House Speaker Beth Harwell is trying blackmail. Either the school board knuckles under, or the legislature will enact vouchers to “allow parents to send their children to private schools on taxpayers’ dime,” as Andrea Zelinski put it in The City Paper yesterday.

What a wonderful choice! If we won’t agree to gouge out our eyes, then the legislature will slit our throats. Isn’t it nice that in our one-party state Harwell can make little pronouncements like this with such complete confidence? The empress has spoken!

Parents want options, “and we didn’t give them that. And consequently, where do they go next but to vouchers,” Harwell told The City Paper.

“If the Metropolitan school board is concerned about vouchers, then they should have been more conscientious in helping us bring in an outstanding public charter school to this state,” she said.

Harwell hastens to add that she herself isn't necessarily in favor of vouchers yet. But with the Metro school board acting so irrationally, she says, she can't promise she can stop her party from ramming vouchers through the legislature. If only the school board would change its mind about Great Hearts ... Hint. Hint.

What's best for the children? Asking that question is Diane Ravitch, the education historian and public schools advocate who’s been watching Tennessee from afar lately. On her blog, she points out:

Vouchers have no record of improving test scores wherever they have been tried. Not in Milwaukee, not in the District of Columbia, and not in Cleveland. It is simply choice for the sake of choice, choice for the sake of privatization.

Tennessee is 46th in education funding. What this state needs isn’t yet more school choice but more public investment to bring true equal opportunity to our education system. Nobody wants to talk about that.

HT: The Daily Buzz

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