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Haston Offers Clarifications on House ‘Education Freedom’ Bill

KIRK HASTON
State Representative, District 72
Rep.kirk.haston@capitol.tn.gov
There’s been a lot of rumors and incorrect information passed along as fact about the current TN-House Education Freedom Legislation.
It has $140 million allocated towards Education Freedom Scholarships (commonly referred to as vouchers) and $230 million allocated to public schools.
Below are the facts of House Bill 1183 and how some of these facts apply to the Perry County School System.
Increased Public School TISA Funding
Under this proposed legislation, the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) funding formula would be revised as follows:
–Increase the weight for a student in a small district from 5% ($350 per student) to 8% ($700 per student).
–Add a new category for districts with 1,001 to 1,700 students by adding a 2% weight for those students.
–Increase the weight for a student in a sparse district from 5% ($350 per) to 6% ($420 per).
–Add a $75 per student in infrastructure fee allocation.
–The above public school TISA funding improvements would add $287,000 in increased funds annually for the Perry County School System.
Improved Insurance Percentage for Teachers
–The TN House Education Freedom bill would reduce teachers’ insurance cost by increasing the state’s percentage share by 15%. Currently TN carries 45% of the insurance cost for teachers, this bill would increase that to 60%.
–This means that a teacher whose annual insurance cost is $7000 would save $1050 per year and a teacher whose annual cost is $10000 would save $1500 per year.
Standardized Testing Reduction:
Under this proposed legislation, Tennessee K-12 standardize tests will be:
–Reduced by almost half by removing the TCAP tests that aren’t federally required and removing the high school TCAP End of Course testing that is also not federally required.
–This reduction of testing would add approximately 300 hours of instructional time into the classroom.
–Use ACT testing in high schools to meet federal standards.
–Provide the ACT WorkKeys for career and technical education senior students.
Protections for Public Schools
Under this proposed legislation, public schools will have the following protections:
–Students transferring into a public school in the 2nd semester will not be counted against that public school’s scores.
–Prevent athletic recruiting by aligning with current TSSAA policies about athletic transfer eligibility.
School System Flexibility
Under this proposed legislation, Tennessee school districts will have more flexibility to:
–Choose either a traditional 180-day school year or an equivalent hours-based school year for scheduling their school days.
–Submit their district improvement plans every 3 years, instead of annually.
–Adopt a chronic absenteeism intervention plan and receive accountability scores based on that plan and not chronic absenteeism.
–Count high dosage, low ratio tutoring, or RTI2 interventions as RTI2 requirements to meet state requirements.
Education Freedom Scholarships
Be awarded according to the following priority schedule:
–Students who are eligible for an Education Savings Account under current law; and then;
–Students in a household at 400% or below the federal poverty level ($120K, annually, for a family of 4); and then;
–Students in a household at 500% or below the federal poverty level ($150K, annually, for a family of 4); and then;
–Students in a household above 500% of the federal poverty level.
–Must be a U.S. citizen to be eligible.
–Homeschool students would not be eligible.
–With the exception of Category 1 Schools, scholarships will only be available in nonpublic schools that have been accredited and operational in Tennessee for 3 years.
–Will not be available to Members of the General Assembly or Members of the TN Governor’s Cabinet.

 

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