Woo-Hoo! Great news —

HB3180 (McCormick) has been withdrawn, meaning that the only bill which specified a change to the BEP, mandating conversion to the TACIR prototype system-level fiscal capacity model is now dead for the year.

It’s always possible, I suppose, that existing pieces of budget legislation might be amended to do the same thing, so those of us concerned about the prospect of harming some school systems to help others will need to remain vigilant.

We need to support reforming the way Tennessee funds education, but we need to do so in a way that helps all school systems and harms none. I am proud to live in a community where the residents value education both with their checkbooks (via property taxes) and with their votes for like-minded City Council members, but I do feel sorry for educators and school boards in communities that are not as supportive.

Which comes first — support because a school system is high performing, or support to enable that higher level of performance? In the case of Oak Ridge, it’s hard to say. The school system was set up by the Manhattan Project (military) leadership during WWII, and well-funded specifically because the scientists and engineers that were needed for that effort were concerned that their children’s education be first-rate. As the City privatized, citizens chose to continue that to which they had come to expect.

Similarly, Kingsport has higher expectations due to the presence of Eastman Chemical (and the highly-educated parents who value education). But what about Greeneville — third on the list of cities who contribute the most per pupil from the City General Fund (and with the third highest ACT scores in the state)?

It’s not just genetics, and it’s not just money. It’s a combination of community and parent expectations of students, of teachers, and of themselves — with a will to invest both time and money for someone else’s immediate benefit.

But for today, I’ll celebrate this one small victory.

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