The 2013 Session of the 108th Tennessee General Assembly was certainly an eventful one for charter school and education reform advocates.
TCSA and other charter school advocates worked this year alongside with education partners on and off the Hill to promote important charter school initiatives. Below is a summary of the outcome of charter school initiatives introduced this year. For additional information on any piece of legislation, please contact Advocacy Director Lauren Hayes.
2013 Legislative Wrap-Up
- TCSA worked with a coalition of education groups to draft and pass a charter school omnibus bill. A notable piece of this legislation allows the creation of a “feeder system” among charter schools to ensure that students have a path of excellent academic opportunities from kindergarten to college. Additional charter management organization board provisions and other operational “clean-up” items also successfully passed in this bill.
- The omnibus bill did not include a heavily-debated amendment to allow for-profit charter school management companies in Tennessee.
- The highly-visible charter school authorizer reform bill stalled in the Senate on the final day of session due to a political battle over unrelated legislation. The bill, supported by a coalition of education reform advocates, passed out of 10 House and Senate committees and gained favor on the House floor, with a final vote of 62-30. The Senate can choose to revisit the bill in January.
- An agreement could not be reached on legislation to grant charter schools greater access to underutilized and vacant district facilities.
- TCSA successfully opposed various pieces of legislation that would be harmful for the operational environment and growth of the movement. These included
- The creation of a 3% administrative fee on all charter schools;
- An allowance for parents to vote to revoke a charter or change the operator of an existing charter school;
- Changes to funding distribution that would have reduced per pupil funding by roughly $300 per pupil and ended 10-equal payments;
- Additional provisions warranting the closure of a charter school by a school district.
The Voice Network: Grassroots Advocacy
Most notable this year was the unwavering activism and enthusiasm from members of the Voice, TCSA’s grassroots network of advocates for high-quality charter schools across the state this year. These advocates told personal stories and were tireless in urging legislators to support a high-quality charter school movement throughout the state. Here are a few highlights:
- 500+ Voice advocates, including charter school parents, teachers, students, and supporters traveled from around the state to the Capitol to urge support for public charter schools throughout session.
- Voice members attended 138 meetings small group meetings with legislators over 17 separate days.
- Over 400 advocates united at Legislative Plaza to speak up for high-quality public school options at the annual Charter School Day on the Hill.
Thank you to all of the incredible advocates who made their voices heard this year!