Tennessee Continues to Choose NOT Investing in Schools

State has $2 billion surplus, is 45th in school funding

Andy Spears

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Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

As I read through Tennessee’s latest revenue update, I can’t help but think that state leaders are acting like a “broke dad” when all the evidence points to the opposite.

So far this year, Tennessee has taken in $1.2 billion MORE than was estimated.

On the low end, it seems likely that the state will have a $2 billion surplus THIS YEAR when all is said and done.

THIS KEEPS HAPPENING

As I noted in The Education Report, Tennessee has a “broke dad” mentality.

Let me put it this way: You’re a parent. You have a paid for house, two paid for cars, and enough money in the bank that you can NOT work for a year and still cover basic expenses.

Is that the time when you tell your family that you will all be moving into a car and sleeping in the parking lot of a nearby park?

On a range of issues — from the DCS crisis to third grade retention to teacher compensation, Tennessee policymakers are refusing to invest the revenue provided by taxpayers.

A recent report indicated that only 25% of Tennessee teachers earn $60,000 or more a year.

Here’s an idea: Make the starting pay for Tennessee’s teachers $60,000.

Do it THIS YEAR.

The state can afford it.

In fact, given the teacher shortage, the state really can’t afford not to do it.

Unless, that is, the state is hurtling toward full privatization of public schools and figures public K-12 teacher salaries won’t be the state’s worry soon.

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

Originally published at http://tnedreport.com on March 21, 2023.

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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 . . .