Tennessee public schools suffer from severe teacher and staff shortages, according to a newly-released analysis from the Education Law Center. The report finds the state’s school funding formula (BEP) completely inadequate.
Here’s more on the report from ELC:
A new report by Education Law Center, More Funding Needed to Fix Tennessee School Staff Shortages, shows Tennessee’s high poverty school districts are burdened with larger student-to-teacher ratios than wealthier districts and support staff ratios that are drastically out of line with minimum national standards. This staffing shortage is the result of the well-documented failure of Tennessee’s school funding formula, the Basic Education Program (BEP), to adequately fund the cost of education for all students, especially students in the state’s poorest districts and schools.
The ELC report documents the need for all Tennessee districts to hire more staff than the BEP funds, especially in the case of the state’s poorest districts, which are more understaffed than their wealthier counterparts. ELC’s analysis finds:
· Nearly all districts raise more local funds than required by the BEP. Districts with the least fiscal capacity raise, on average, $375 per pupil above the level required by the BEP formula, compared to over $2,350 per pupil in districts with the most fiscal capacity.
· On average, the BEP funds one teacher for every 23 students. Wealthier districts supplement with local funds to reduce that ratio to 19–20 students per teacher, while the poorest districts average a student-teacher ratio of 24:1.
· The population of English language learners (ELL) is considerably higher in the poorest districts than in the wealthiest (10% vs. 3%); yet the ELL student to ESL teacher ratio is twice as high in poor districts than in wealthier districts.
· Of the 140 districts in the state, 111 did not have a single social worker on staff, including 15 of the poorest districts.
· Twelve districts across the state had no social worker, no psychologist and a student to counselor ratio above 600. These districts educate over 25,000 students, nearly 40% of whom are poor.
The report also presents district-level details. For example, it is possible to compare staffing levels in Shelby, with 59% of students in poverty, with neighboring Collierville, with a…