Landmark legislation sponsored by State Rep. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) aimed at strengthening Tennessee’s public education system passed the House of Representatives on Monday, April 7, with strong bipartisan support from state lawmakers.
The legislation, which been previously passed by the Senate, will now be forwarded to Gov. Bill Haslam for review.
As passed, House Bill 1989/Senate Bill 2285 will continue Tennessee’s trend of upholding high educational standards for the state’s public charter schools by creating an automatic closure for low-performing schools. Under this bill, if a public charter school falls within the bottom 5 percent of Tennessee’s public schools in terms of academic achievement, the school will close at the end of the school year.
“We were so glad that Rep. White was willing to sponsor this bill around accountability for charter schools,” said Brandy Bivens of the Tennessee Charter School Center. “This bill will help ensure that our charter school sector remains strong and that these schools will continue to provide a high-quality education for the children of Tennessee.”
“Our education report card committee identified this issue as a gap in Tennessee’s charter school law,” added Adam Lister, directory of policy for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Rep. White’s legislation will help ensure high quality charter school options for students and families across the state.”
“Charter schools have a contract, or charter, with their local school board to operate inside the school district’s boundaries. These schools operate independently of local school systems, with flexibility around areas such as instructional hours, staffing and curriculum.
White, a former teacher, is a member of the House Education Committee and House Business & Utilities Committee. She lives in Murfreesboro and represents District 37, which includes a portion of Rutherford County.
“As a former teacher, I strongly support our public schools and believe that charter schools can play an important role in continuing to improve our state’s public education system,” White said. “Public charter schools are granted extra flexibility in making educational decisions in exchange for more strict accountability. This bill simply continues Tennessee’s trend of encouraging our public schools to perform at their fullest potential.
“At the end of the day, it is a bill about doing what is right for teachers, our students, our families and our state. Parents should have choices in the education of their children, and these choices must be of the highest caliber.”