First, congratulations to the principals and teachers in these schools.
Commissioner Huffman is right, all children can learn. But what he refuses to acknowledge is that students with poverty-related learning disadvantages learn less well. Unfortunately, he has implemented a teacher evaluation system that holds teachers accountable for factors beyond their control.
Listed below is a link to a commentary that explains this problem much better than I can. I invite you to read it:
The push for private school vouchers in Tennessee is the latest episode in a three-decade effort to undermine the great American institution of public education.
It began in 1983 with “A Nation at Risk,” a report by a presidential commission that cited shortcomings with the nation’s schools. Education Secretary Terrel Bell seized on the report to launch a campaign to strengthen public education. But antigovernment allies of the Reagan administration used the report--and a book by free-market purist Milton Friedman that labeled “government schools” as “socialism”--to call for competitive, private school alternatives. They ousted Bell and replaced him with William Bennett, a voucher advocate. Thereafter in major speeches, President Reagan repeatedly called for vouchers for private schools, mainly church schools--and prayer in public schools.
Faced with taxpayer resistance to vouchers, proponents attempted to rebrand them as “opportunity scholarships.” Lamar Alexander, as U.S. education secretary, never uttered “vouchers” but, instead, proposed a “G.I. Bill for Kids” that would pay private school tuition.
In 2001 the Bush administration concocted a scheme to set up public schools for failure by setting unattainable goals, and then to offer vouchers to parents with children in “failing” schools. They called it “No Child Left Behind.” Congress approved NCLB, minus vouchers.
Now with a decade of NCLB-maligned public schools, a core of right-wing state lawmakers is calling for “school choice” at taxpayers’ expense.
Teachers have legitimate concerns about this controversial evaluation system. They might have one more if they understood its origin.
The state Department of Education would like for them to believe that the model, known as the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM), was developed with input from Tennessee educators:
But TEAM was packaged and sold to Tennessee by a California operation known as the National Institute for Excellence in Education (NIEE):
NIEE was founded by Lowell Milken, a former “junk bond” operator with no background in education:
Milken became an education entrepreneur after being barred (along with brother Michael) from working in the investment industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission:
With a backlash developing in Tennessee against TEAM, the nation is focused on Tennessee’s new endeavor: