Help us improve equity in funding Tennessee schools
Dollars and Sense is a 7-part learning series designed to help Tennesseans understand how schools are funded in Tennessee, and what we can do to improve the adequacy and equity in our funding formula so that our schools and students have access to the resources that they need to succeed. We will feature expert speakers from Tennessee and across the country, and assign optional readings for each session.
Session 1 will provide attendees with an introduction to school funding structures, including what goes in, what comes out, and why it matters. Additionally, attendees will learn how state education funding formulas compare across the country, and several ways to evaluate their adequacy and fairness. This session will lay a foundation for future Dollars and Sense sessions, ensuring attendees can examine the many dimensions of school funding in Tennessee.
Session 2 of Dollars and Sense will provide attendees with an understanding of the national and state actors, constituencies and policies at play in education finance. We’ll discuss the role of different sectors, governmental agencies and litigation in the school funding landscape in Tennessee.
Session 3 will provide attendees with a close examination of the Basic Education Program (BEP), including its history, structure, how it works in practice and its impact on key drivers like salaries and staffing, instructional programs and learning supports for students. We’ll discuss how the BEP funds and impacts rural and urban districts, and the challenges local counties face in funding the remainder of district needs.
Session 4 will provide attendees with an understanding of the latest research on the impact of school funding on achievement, student outcomes and economic mobility. We’ll also take a look at the impact of COVID-19 and the recession on state and local budgets, and the potential for long-term effects.
Session 5 will provide attendees with an analysis of possible solutions and alternatives to the BEP, which is a resource-based funding model. What alternatives exist? What is working in other states and what can we learn from them? We’ll hear from experts on how we can cost out solutions, and discuss what it would take to fund our schools in an equitable and adequate manner.
Session 6 of 7 will provide attendees an opportunity to hear from advocates and leaders in other states about their ability to change their funding formula. We’ll discuss what worked, what failed, and how public will was changed in order to achieve change. We’ll also examine the impact of litigation and court-ordered funding reform on state funding formulas.
Our speakers include:
Chris Candelaria, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University
Subira Gordon, Executive Director, ConnCan
Sanford Johnson, TeachPlus, Mississippi
Riley Kitts, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado
Gini Pupo-Walker, State Director, The Education Trust in Tennessee
Zahava Stadler, Special Assistant for State Funding and Policy, The Education Trust
Join us to hear from Rally, a communications firm that will help us examine national and statewide media coverage of school funding, how the issue is being framed and what topics continue to emerge. They will also offer some do’s and don’ts when talking about school funding, and how to make your case to a variety of audiences.
We will also close out our Dollars and Sense series with a discussion of what we’re hearing during our TN25 sessions, and what key advocacy strategies and actions we can take together to advance school funding reform in Tennessee.
Leading from the front: meet our Finance Institute participants
Meet eleven education leaders who are on a journey to understand the ins and out of school funding in Tennessee. These advocates are part of a 7-month intensive program aimed at equipping them with the research, data and advocacy tools they need to understand Tennessee’s school funding formula and how to ensure it yields the best possible results for students. At the conclusion of their learning experience, they will lead a school finance advocacy project in their community.