Tag Archives: reception

A Look at the Lay of the TN Voucher Landscape

An article by Cari Wade Gervin takes a thorough look at the lay of the voucher landscape, ranging from a reception for legislators in Nashville to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Knoxville where Rep. Bill Dunn says he’s eyeing an amendment to go further than Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed. There are also a lot of details on how the program would work.
Excerpt:
Servers passed around trays of hors d’oeuvres as several members of the House and Senate Education Committees sipped white wine and mingled with lobbyists and concerned parents.
The event was billed as the Nashville kickoff for “National School Choice Week.” A similar event in Arizona a couple of days before had included a performance by the Jonas Brothers; Nashville was not so blessed, but the evening’s panel did include former WNBA superstar Lisa Leslie and Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne.
NSCW bills itself as a nonpartisan awareness group that does not advocate for any legislation or candidates, but it’s clearly well funded. Every chair in the ballroom was draped with a bright yellow fleece scarf embroidered with the group’s logo–graduation caps flying through the air above the words “National School Choice Week”–and an additional table in the lobby was stacked with more scarves, in case you wanted to take some home to your family.
Before the panel began its discussion, it aired a short cartoon about school choice co-produced by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a libertarian think tank, and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the leading national advocate for school choice. (The two groups have launched a pro-voucher website, ChooseMeTennessee.com, where you can watch the video yourself.)
“It’s just like picking a college. Or a grocery store. Or a shopping mall, car, church, job–you name it,” the video says.
That’s one of the arguments proponents of vouchers like to use a lot–that schools should be just another consumer choice. And maybe that consumer mentality has something to do with Overstock.com’s Byrne’s outspoken advocacy for vouchers, despite having never been married and having no children himself. (He’s the chairman of the board for the Friedman Foundation.) Byrne compared public schools to the Soviet agricultural system and said a market-driven system would breed more educational success.
…But proponents of a universal system, like much of the audience at the NCSW event, think there’s no reason to not make Tennessee a testing ground. At a legislative briefing at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce last week, Dunn, who says he has been a fan of school choice for over 20 years, said he is contemplating an amendment to Haslam’s bill that would open up vouchers to more students.
“I have told [the school choice lobbyists], bring me 55 votes, and I’ll consider expanding the bill,” Dunn says.
Newly elected Rep. Roger Kane, another House Education Committee member, also voiced his support for a wider program.
“It gives a parent a sense of choice. It brings it back to the local level. What’s more local than family?” Kane says. “I think its time has finally come.”

City Employees Get Time Off, Snacks to Meet Candidate

About 25 East Ridge city employees attended a reception for 3rd District Congressional candidate Scottie Mayfield during working hours and the city spent about $80 on providing snacks at the gathering, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
It may have been just an hour of cookies and punch, but a recent reception sponsored by East Ridge city officials for a congressional candidate is drawing questions about how local taxpayer money may be used.
City Manager Tim Gobble insisted that the reception was not meant to be an endorsement and was an attempt to be “hospitable,” but other city leaders have said it was an inappropriate use of city funds.
“It just looks bad,” said Councilman Jim Bethune, who attended the event but said flatly he is not a Mayfield supporter. “I don’t think he meant it as an endorsement, but you start to think about whether this is really our place, as a city, to do that.”
The event stemmed from conversations Gobble said he had with Mayfield several weeks ago, when the city manager invited the candidate to stop by City Hall to meet employees. Other local candidates have stopped by City Hall to glad-hand with residents, but none have been afforded a formal reception.