Parents, policymakers, advocates, and educators are calling for Tennessee to expand high-quality public charter schools in order to strengthen the public education system and ensure all students have the best opportunities for success.

In a conversation hosted by Better Student Outcomes Now, SCORE, and the Tennessee Charter School Center, discussion focused on public school funding, accountability, and high-quality options for families.

Highlights included a conversation about strong accountability and student-centered funding with Tony Niknejad (policy director for Governor Bill Lee) and David Mansouri (president and CEO of SCORE), where they discussed the important role public charters have to play in advancing outcomes for Tennessee students and the need to increase high-quality charter school opportunities.

“We would not be where we’re at today … without the contribution of our great charter school leaders,” said Niknejad.

Noting the need to challenge the status quo and take risks, Niknejad spoke about allowing our education system to grow and mature — a system where we are trying new things and “giving students and parents multiple options on what a good education looks like.”

Other key points from the discussion include:

  • There is urgency to improve student outcomes, and assessment and accountability provide us with data to do that.
  • Data show that our education system is not sufficiently supporting economically disadvantaged students, students of color, and students with disabilities.
  • Public charter schools overwhelmingly serve students in the groups mentioned above.
  • Investing in public charter schools, specifically through facilities funding, is critical to leveling the playing for students in these groups.
  • Tennessee needs a student-focused funding formula that is flexible and responsive.

Watch the full video, which includes a panel discussion with Tennessee parents (moderated by former Governor Bill Haslam) and presentations on the value of high-performing public charter schools and the need for quality public school options.

Diane Hughes is Communications Manager at SCORE.

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