Make no mistake about it, there is a well-orchestrated war being waged against Tennessee’s public school system. This insidious effort to privatize and monetize this nation’s school system was initiated and is funded by the ultra-conservative billionaire Koch brothers of Tea Party fame who dislike the fact that our schools are reliant on public tax dollars and are subject to government laws and regulations dictating what educators can teach in school. So what better way to reduce those financial burdens and legal obligations than by replacing them with charter schools that are designed specifically to serve and promote an ultra-conservative Judeo-Christian political agenda. That is exactly what Governor Bill Lee and Republican lawmakers are trying to do by bringing in 50 Hillsdale College charter schools thereby further depleting the already inadequate funds needed to support and improve our public schools. And don’t forget that charter schools are run by corporations who donate money to these politicians.
Despite the fact that public schools represent a public trust belonging to all of us, Tennessee’s schools have long been underfunded with our teachers understaffed, overworked, and underpaid. However, given the increasingly virulent attacks being made against the teaching profession, its unions, pensions and local school boards, it’s apparent that the grand scheme is not to make our schools better places of learning - charter schools have historically proven to be no better and sometimes worse than public schools at doing that – the goal here is to do away with public education entirely.
These Republicans subscribe to an extreme form of libertarianism which condemns compulsory education laws and believes that government has no business being in the education business. They believe that the free public education system that created one of the most widely educated populations in the history of the modern world should be dismantled. So don’t be misled by the controversies created and fanned about Critical Race Theory; the passage of College Censorship Bills, legislation limiting and prohibiting discussion in schools of “divisive topics”; or the furor being raised over supposedly inappropriate reading material for students. These are issues meant to distract parents and the public from the real threat, that being the potential end of Tennessee’s publicly funded educational system. And rest assured, once gone it will be hard to restore.
There’s still time to prevent that from happening. Call Governor Bill Lee at 615-741-2001 and e-mail him and your legislators to let them know in no uncertain terms that we do not want our children to become pawns in a political/religious power struggle. Privately-owned charter schools are no replacement for a public educational system designed to remain free from politics, religion or monetary incentives. Future generations need and deserve to receive an education which enables them to become literate and employable adults, but which also encourages them to be honorable, kindly and tolerant human beings.
And come August, we’ll have the opportunity to elect leaders who support our schools and public education. We need to vote accordingly.