More on Vouchers, Michelle Rhee & the TN Legislature

Andrea Zelinski has collected commentary from Tennessee legislators attending the Southern Legislative Council meeting in Memphis on school vouchers, strongly endorsed earlier in a speech to the SLC from Michelle Rhee.
The TNReport article says Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, sponsor of a voucher bill that passed the Senate earlier this year but stalled in the House, is “teaming up” with Rhee, “a controversial and vocal education reformer who won her claim to fame by putting in place a tougher evaluation system and firing dozens of teachers who didn’t meet standards while chancellor of the D.C. public schools.”
The conference also heard about some voucher research.
Vouchers are the most contentious aspects of the school choice debate, said Margaret Raymond, director of the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University.
A lot of the disagreement is over whether taxpayer dollars should be used to support private schools, 80 percent of which nationally are religiously based, according to Raymond.
Another point of contention is giving families free reign to leave traditional public schools in favor of charter schools which will shift government funding from one part of the district to another.
After examining charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia, Raymond’s office found that 17 percent of them performed better than public schools. Another 46 percent reported the same academic achievement as their public school counterparts, while 37 percent were worse.
States that kept failing charter schools open longer were worse off than those that closed schools faster, according to the study.
“You have to think about the fact that in states where the results are really bad, it’s because there are schools that are open for years and years and years that do not have high performance and are not being addressed,” Raymond said.
Raymond is running numbers on Tennessee schools, but that data won’t be available for another six months, she said.

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