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Revised Charter School ‘Authorizer’ Bill Applies Statewide

A House committee voted Tuesday to create a new nine-member board and give it authority to override local school boards statewide in deciding where charter schools can be established.
The bill approved by the House Education Committee (HB702) drew strident criticism from some Democrats. House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner said the new board would be “a death panel for public schools” and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, called said the vote is “the most extraordinary power grab I’ve ever seen in the Legislature.”
A version of the bill approved earlier in subcommittee would have given override authority on establishing schools to the existing State Board of Education and would have applied only in Shelby and Davidson counteis. The revised measure applies statewide – “so we’re not singling anyone out,” said sponsor Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis – and gives charter approval authority to a new panel.
The new panel would have nine members – three each appointed by the governor, the speaker of the House and the speaker of the Senate. If it approved a charter school over objections of a local school board, the local school system would still have to provide funding to the charter operation.

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