Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kudos to SCS Board Commissioner Reginald Porter, Jr.

Kudos to Shelby County School Board Commissioner Reginald Porter, Jr. for leading the committee that came up with the School Board's legislative agenda, and for ushering through its approval by the full School Board.

Commissioner Porter was appointed by the Shelby County Commission to the board in 2011 to one of the seven new seats on the "unified" school board.  With the support of Stand for Children, Commissioner Porter won election to the seat in August 2012.  He ran against Jonathan Lewis, who apparently declined to engage with any of the many groups who submit questionnaires to the candidates for endorsement and rating purposes.  To me, Commissioner Porter appears to be a hard worker and generally manages to stay out of the fray.

Here's the School Board's 2013 legislative agenda.  Kudos to Commissioner Porter for not being afraid of the fray.  Commissioner Mike Wissman saw fit to recuse himself, but everyone else present voted in favor of the legislative agenda.

Astonishingly, they agree with me on everything.  Or maybe I agree with them.  Chicken/egg - hard to say which came first.

So what do they have to say on the pressing matters of the day that are likely to be considered by our esteemed state legislature?
  • the state should provide clarification on how schools leave the ASD and return to local control
  • charter school authorization should stay with the local education agency
  • where the current version of the parent trigger law is exercised (it hasn't ever been, here in Tennessee), the local education agency should retain final say on whether the school is converted to a charter school
  • the state should not require that charter schools be permitted to use school facilities at no cost*
  • charter school teachers and staff should be covered by the state's health plan, instead of by the local education agency
  • request that the state better coordinate the required payments by school districts to charter schools, with the funding that school districts receive so that payments to charter schools do not create cash flow problems for the district (payments due to the charter schools before funding has been received by the school districts)
  • permit school districts to charge administrative fees to charter schools to fund the district's work in managing reporting obligations and other work related to charter schools
  • keep superintendents appointed, not elected
  • oppose laws that would permit guns in school parking lots
  • expand PreK funding, and not reduce current levels of PreK funding
  • strengthen accountability for virtual charter schools
  • oppose statewide voucher program
  • keep school district exclusion from worker's compensation program
You might notice the asterisk on the fourth item above - some of the municipal school district supporters believe this item is about them.  It may or may not have an impact on them, but it really is about the charter school agenda to obtain free, public space.  If only they didn't have to pay for their own space, they could do so much more for the children! - they say.  More to come on several of these items ...

Shelby County joins Nashville and the Franklin Special School District in opposing a state charter school authorizer and a statewide charter program.  Standing Together 4 Strong Community Schools is staying on top of these two issues as the legislature seems poised to approve both.  Show your support - they're also on Facebook!

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