In Tennessee, Advocates of School Privatization Spend Heavily on Elections

More than $1 million spent to shift outcomes of primaries

Andy Spears

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I wrote recently about Team Kid PAC, the political action arm of Tennesseans for Student Success.

The dark money, pro-privatization group spent heavily to influence key races in the August primary. As Adam Friedman in the Tennessean notes, Team Kid was joined by other privatization groups in spending that ultimately resulted in the defeat of Republican incumbent House member Terri Lynn Weaver and Senate member Bob Ramsey. Both have opposed using public money to fund private schools.

Education groups that support charter schools and vouchers raised $1.2 million to spend in Tennessee’s most recent legislative primary, helping defeat two Republican incumbents.

Some of education groups support charters and others vouchers. Some back both. They operate using the political actions committees of Team Kid PAC, Tennessee Federation for Children PAC and Tennesseans for Putting Students First.

Tennesseans For Student Success, the American Federation for Children Action Fund, 50Can and The Campaign for Great Public Schools are all national education groups with donors that are nearly impossible to track.

The Internal Revenue Service classifies these organizations as 501c4s. This means their donors are only available through nonprofit tax forms, but those forms don’t clearly show where the money comes from.

These groups are spending big to elect even more pro-privatization candidates and that spending is overwhelming the efforts of public education advocates.

Here’s more on the kinds of attacks used by Tennesseans for Student Success when lawmakers fall out of line with their privatization agenda:

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Originally published at http://tnedreport.com on August 12, 2022.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .