Local Government Officials
Download the House Amendment
Much authority of the LEA is removed by this amended bill (see highlighted areas of the bill) and replaced with the commission.
If you do not want the authority of the Local Education Agency undermined. please call the prime sponsors Speaker Cameron Sexton 615.741.2343 and Lt Gov. Randy McNally 615.741.6806.
Also call the Chairman of the House Education Administration Committee Rep. Mark White 615.741.4415 and Chairman of the Senate Education Committee Senator Jon Lundberg 615.741.5761.
Your most direct impact is with your legislators. Please call your Senator and your Representative. Click LEGISLATORS, enter your address to find your legislatorsDownload Highlighted Bill
Undermine the Local Education Agency Bill HB1214/SB1194
is in the House and Senate Education Committees on
Wednesday March 22 at high noon and at 1:30
Nashville, Tennessee, March 20, 2023: Kevin Boden of HSLDA hosted a zoom call to discuss HB1214 SB1194, inviting Claiborne Thornton, THEA President to be a panelist on the call with him. In excess of 150 people attended the call to learn of the changes being implemented in this very problematic bill.
Earlier that afternoon Speaker Cameron Sexton, Rep Barrett and Kevin Boden participated in a zoom meeting where the Speaker promised to remove home schoolers from the bill, providing an undisclosed copy of a planned, but not introduced amendment, to accomplish that objective.
The fundamental error of the bill for home schoolers is the fact that the definition of home schooling is directly opposed to the hybrid public charter school for home schoolers. The latter is clearly not home education. It is public school, perhaps best to be known as “remote public school”. This is promised to be removed.
Having been promised removal of the direct mention of home schooling from the bill, the THEA board remains concerned about the bill for three reasons. One is directly related to home education and the other two are related to the fiscal note and the complete undermining of the authority of every Local Education Agency in every school district across the state. If this bill passes, those LEA’s will lose any ability to control the operation of the HB1214’s types of schools in their district and they will face having students from across the state housed in their district in residential or boarding schools. Can you imagine volunteering your time to serve your community and then the legislature undermining your authority. (Please tell me the difference between defunding the police and destroying the authority of the LEA’s.)
The fiscal note for this bill is about $360,000, which is enough to pay for 30 students to be in these new schools statewide. The cost could easily be 1,000 times that much money or more.
The matter possibly related to homeschooling families is the formation of a new type of school, the residential or boarding school for “at-risk” students, where the definition of at risk students includes the following:
the categories of students listed in the bill as “at risk” group, given here in reverse order from the bill – students expelled, those placed on probation or parole, truant, chronically absent, or “at risk” of state custody due to family dysfunction, or educational disadvantage due to circumstances of abuse, neglect, or disability, and students in families eligible for free lunch, or economically disadvantaged.
With the lack of clear definitions, home schoolers may be considered by the state as being in one or more of these groups. If they are included and the schools and students can be located anywhere in the state, the “at-risk” students may be very far from home. Are these schools voluntary or not? The bill is not clear.
PLAN OF ACTION
What is clear at this point is that home schoolers have made an impact on a group of legislators. What is not clear is what the impact on this bill will be.
The only possible way to know that the impact on the language of the bill is to see the language of the amendment and to evaluate what the new bill will say and how that will fit into the law.
We are closer to the goal, but we are not at the goal. It is too soon to declare victory.
Many years ago I worked alongside some other groups as we labored with the legislature on complex matters concerning schooling. As I listened to them I understood that their view of the future is that their way of life was under challenge and that ultimately on this earth they would lose. Their values would lose. Their cultural impact would diminish until their way of life, their belief system, would be squashed out. Their vision of victory was to be in the last foxhole overcome by the enemy. They would fight to protect their small group.
While I appreciated their tenacity in protecting their part of the world they occupied, I felt then as I do now.
I have fought and continue to fight to protect and promote home education. But my view of freedom goes beyond just you and me being free to homeschool. I long to live in a free society. A society based on truth. A society filled with love and respect for my neighbors.
Should I wait for my neighbors on the school board to agree with me about home education and then feel that I have gained victory? Or should I see my neighbor laboring to support their local school board, see them volunteering their time, see them run for office on the school board so they can have an influence on the lives of the children in their sphere of influence and step forward to tell them, “You are under attack. If HB1214 passes your position of trust will be completely undermined. You will no longer have the scope of authority that you had before HB1214 passed. If this bill passes, control over education will increasingly move from local control to being under direct state control. Join the battle. Fight. Defeat HB1214/SB1194”
Let’s rename the bill. It’s the unddermine the Local Education Agency Bill. Let’s see if we can build some allies in the field of education.
We have the secret intel. Their way of life is under assault. It is time for them to defend their way of life. Let’s point them to the battle, while there is time, precious little time.
You’ve worked hard to find a measure of freedom in the increasingly socialist State of Tennessee. Let’s at least tell a group of fellow volunteer workers in another field that they are under attack. They must fight their own fight.
Let me be perfectly clear what victory looks like on this bill.
The total defeat of this bill is VICTORY. It does not come out of committee. It does not go to the floor of the Senate or of the House. That is victory.
Anything less than that may be considered a partial win. It is not a total victory.
HB1214 / SB1194
By Claiborne Thornton, President
Tennessee Home Education Association
This bill as amended adds two new types of schools in Tennessee – a “hybrid public charter school”, also referred to later in the amendment as a “public charter home school” and a residential or boarding school for “at-risk” students.
- This bill confuses home education and public education as it modifies the existing Tennessee homeschool law, TN Code Annotated 49-6-3050, by adding the term the “hybrid public charter school”. Home education by definition cannot be a “hybrid public charter school”.
- In home education parents select the teacher, the curriculum, the school schedule (as long as they hold class for 180 school days per calendar year), the testing that their children take, selection of textbooks, any and all resources that make learning as interesting, enjoyable, challenging, and fulfilling as possible.
- In a public school other authorities select the teacher, curriculum, testing, schedule, and the environment in which the school is conducted.
- Each hybrid public charter school student will have an annual check of maybe $12,000 attached to their enrollment in the school.
- The bill mandates students attend classes in the hybrid public charter school 3 or 4 days per week and requires the parents to use the same curriculum and teach the students at home one or two days per week or use public school at home instruction. On its face this is quite simply not home education.
Home education is not public education.
- In the second new type of school called a residential or boarding school for “at-risk” students any of seven category of students deemed to be “at risk” will move to a charter school boarding school. These are the categories of students listed in the “at risk” group, given here in reverse order from the bill – students expelled, those placed on probation or parole, truant, chronically absent, or “at risk” of state custody due to family dysfunction, or educational disadvantage due to circumstances of abuse, neglect, or disability, and students in families eligible for free lunch, or economically disadvantaged.
- Considering some of the enrollees in the at-risk school are those paced on probation or parole, will the difference between this type of school and a juvenile detention center be very significant? What is the difference?
- Are there any categories of “at-risk” students that currently include students who are being homeschooled? What was the criteria used for the DOJ and the FBI to investigate families this past summer? Were those families deemed dysfunctional?
The amended bill gives the commission a very heavy hand that can be exercised over the authority of the Local Education Agencies, or LEA’s.
- Blocking LEA’s from having any authority to prevent the commission from locating a residential or boarding school for “at-risk” students in their district indicates the priority assigned to the compulsory nature of the commission in forcing their will on local school districts. Why are the LEA’s given no voice in the location of these schools in their districts?
- It is noteworthy that the LEA’s cannot prevent students from across the State being enrolled in schools in their district. Has your local LEA been consulted about this potential change in the law?
- Will students select to go to an “at-risk” boarding school or will they be required to “attend”? Who decides? What will the rules and regulations require?
Typically bills are written and if they become law any department of the State affected by the bill has opportunity to write Rules and Regulations describing how the department will apply the new law. Those Rules and Regulations are then reviewed by the Legislature and upon adoption become enforceable in the court as law. In the case of this bill the closing section makes one pause and consider. Are the rules and regulations already written and the authors desperate to immediately submit them for approval? The last section of the bill begins with this statement. “For purpose of promulgating rules, this act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.” With this urgency, surely the rules must already be written. What do they say? Legislators should demand to have the opportunity to see those rules very soon.
In summary, the bill is a direct attack on home education. As amended it would completely undermine home schooling in Tennessee. Huge annual funding would follow each child who leaves home school to enter a hybrid public charter school. Unrelenting advertisements would recruit them one time and for the next 12 years that school would get a fantastically huge sum of money, when you evaluate the school career of each student. The advertisements pressing at unsuspecting families would be nonstop, if what has happened in other states is any indicator. All measures of learning show that public school at home is the least effective means of educating a child.
Speaking philosophically, for a republic to flourish and continue, its citizens must be educated. There are certain things which must be defined that a productive citizen needs know, so that a republic society becomes, and remains, prosperous and free. It is imperative to undertake this task, not in haste, but in the spirit of wisdom. For now, this bill is focused on moving students into two new types of schools, which when evaluated by nationally normed standardized achievement tests, are abysmal places of learning that will NOT strengthen families nor help our republic to continue.
Immediately contact your local board of education and ask this question. "Are you aware that schools for 'at-risk' students, including students on parole, can be placed by the state in your school district without approval of the LEA and that 'at-risk' students from all across the state can be put into the school in your district. Please contact your State Representative and your State Senator about HB1214 and SB1194 (see top of page 11 & page 10) and oppose this bill."
This one bill forms two new types of schools in Tennessee a hybrid school allowing home schoolers to enroll and boarding schools for "at-risk" students. In the first type of new school, home schoolers will be heavily marketed by "educators" wanting the $12,000 that will follow the student.
For the "at-risk" school, one of the seven categories of "at-risk" students is being from an dysfunctional family (see page 9). Where is the definition of a dysfunctional family? It is not in the bill. Who decides if a family is dysfunctional? Last summer the DOJ began tracking families as potential problems. One of those was a father who objected at a VA school board meeting because his daughter was raped in the school's women's bathroom by a self proclaimed woman. For the school board and the DOJ the father was the problem. How did the DOJ determine which families to track? Were they deemed dysfunctional?
Who decides when it is necessary to enroll a student in an "at-risk" boarding school that can be located anywhere in the state?
There is a fiscal note attached to this bill of less than $500,000. How many students of each of the seven categories of the "at-risk" students are in the state? At $12,000 per student that would equal fewer than 42 students statewide for the two types of new schools. Is that a reasonable, responsible fiscal note?
The commissioner has the latitude to adjust the amount of money associated with each student in a boarding school based on the requirements for operating the school. So now we pay about $12,000 for a student attending a public school for 8 hours a day for 180 days. How much would be a reasonable allocation for a student attending "class" 24 hours a day 365 days a year? With one student attending 1,440 hours per year and the other attending 8,760 hours per year the $ per hour rate would equal $73,000 per student in the "at-risk" boarding school.
Do we really have a good idea how much this bill will actually cost the State of Tennessee?
- Definition of "at-risk" students on page 9
- How many students in each category?
- Can these students be compelled to attend an "at-risk" school?
- Control of a statewide system of year round residential schools under not LEA authority, but fully funded by the "commission"
- Home schoolers who chose to enroll in a hybrid public charter school have no control over testing (page 1), curriculum (page 6), subjects (page 6) and academic standards (page 6)
“Please vote no on HB1214, SB 1194! THEA adamantly opposes this legislation, which is in Education Committee on March 15. The HB has been completely modified with an amendment. We are adamantly opposed to this amendment, and we've had no time to give any input. This legislation creates a cloud we cannot see into. It looks subversive, especially as this has been introduced as a caption bill opening the Education Code and apparently the Homeschooling Code.”
To THEA members:
“We are tracking legislation that blurs the lines between homeschooling and public schooling. It attacks homeschooling freedoms in TN. THEA adamantly opposes this legislation! THEA has had no time to give any legislative input. Please contact your legislators today and the Education Committee members (Senate Education Committee) who vote on these bills, on March 15, 2023. Tell them to vote no on HB1214 and SB1194. Watch the THEA website for updates and information.”