- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

August 10

Tennessean, Nashville, Tennessee, on school reform:

Education reform has reached the grass-roots level in Tennessee, and the results of Thursday’s general elections in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner counties bear that out.

No longer is all the pressure to adapt and boost students’ educational attainment coming from the federal or state government. Ordinary citizens and local officials are choosing sides.

- Take Metro Nashville’s school board election. Voters split the races for four of the body’s nine seats, returning two status quo board members (Jo Ann Brannon and Anna Shepherd) but turning out Cheryl Mayes (who was also the board chair) for a school-choice advocate, Tyese Hunter, and electing choice supporter Mary Pierce over traditional-school proponent Becky Sharpe.

The fact that board members differ on charters is not a bad thing, if it achieves a balance of inclusion and innovation. But discussions must not descend into chaos, as in the past two years.

- In Williamson County, the school system could see an even more dramatic shift. Three incumbents lost to political newcomers who appear to be determined to make big changes in everything from textbook selection to Common Core State Standards.

Not that local boards can affect Common Core - it’s a state-administered program - but the anti-government backlash to the standards helped the winners get elected.

- In Sumner, the dispute is over funding. When county commissioners and school board members could not agree on funding in summer 2012, it caused a delay in the start of the school year.

Strong Schools’ message is direct: If you care about children’s education, you make sure to allocate enough money to operate the schools. The old guard accuses the group of pushing an unnecessary increase in property taxes. But the fact that the county’s schools started nine days late in fall 2012 would seem to sway that argument.

No amount of rhetoric about fiscal responsibility can justify setting kids back at a time when Tennessee schoolchildren can ill afford to lag behind.




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