Is the State of Tennessee’s Education System as Strong as We Think?

Article:Where TN governor candidates stand on education issues by Jason Gonzales {Published June 25, 2018 in Knoxville News Sentinel}.

Mr. Gonzales, the reporter for this article stated: The state has allocated nearly $500 million toward education in recent years, provided more money for teacher salaries and been one of the fast-improving states in the nation.

My research suggests quite the opposite.  I have found that we are actually underfunding our public schools by $500 million to close to $900 million if you include paying teachers and staff properly. Source

I have found no indication that we are the fastest improving state.  Instead, I found that our students are not even proficient in core subjects.  Our students in grades 4, 8, and 12 average at roughly 30% proficient in Reading, Math, Science and Writing.  The same students in the same grades are considered roughly 60% basic in these subjects. Source

As far as education spending for our students; our per pupil spending is $8,000 which is 7th from the bottom.  The national average is $11,000.  Source

Education spending for our teachers has Tennessee ranked as the 38thlowest paid teachers in the country with $48,000. Source  West Virginia teachers made $45,000 and they went on strike.  The national average salary is $58,000. Source

Tennessee teachers have actually lost money since 1981.  In 1981 Tennessee teachers were paid $51,000, 1999= $52K, 2009=$51K and in 2015= $49K.  We are losing ground. Source

As a parent, I am worried.  As a concerned citizen, I am worried.  As a resident of District 89 and of Tennessee, I am worried.  I understand the notion that we don’t need to throw piles of money at everything but in this instance, I think we need to.  If our students had high proficiency averages in core subjects then I would say spending too much money on public education is overrated.  However, our students are not proficient and we don’t spend very much on our students and teachers so I say we should consider spending more money to help our students become more proficient in core subjects.


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