April 4, 2022
Click here for a printable “SLOW IT DOWN” flyer you can take with you to a committee meeting: TISA – SLOW IT DOWN (3)
Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) applauds the governor’s determination to change the current outdated education funding formula (BEP) and its inequitable allocation of public education dollars. However, with the introduction of the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA), NOAH has serious concerns about both the new framework and the speed with which it is being pushed through the legislature.
- TISA is the Governor’s proposed replacement for Tennessee’s current public education funding formula (BEP) which has been in place for 30 years.
- The Tennessee General Assembly will either pass or reject TISA before the current legislative session ends in late April or early May.
- NOAH enthusiastically supports replacing the BEP and has been advocating for an overhaul for years.
- TISA is one of the most consequential if not the most consequential bills of the past decade. Our children’s future lies in the balance. It’s highly likely TISA will be around for many years to come so we must get it right.
- The governor has committed $1 billion of additional funding for public education for the new budget year. If approved, Tennessee’s per pupil spending on public education would improve from 44th in the nation to at least somewhere in the middle. However, given the $2 billion surplus the state generated over the past year, the expectation that that level of surplus will continue in subsequent years and the woeful underfunding of public education in the past, the pie needs to be even bigger.
- NOAH’s position on TISA is highlighted as follows:
- Our primary advocacy around TISA is to slow its passage down. We see no reason to rush passage through during this legislative session given the impact of the bill and the time required to allow all stakeholders to properly vet the details.
- TISA is a student-based vs. a resource-based approach which we support. The formula includes a) a base amount for all students, b) weights to account for unique student circumstances like English learners, economically disadvantaged, concentrated poverty, children with disabilities, etc. which require districts to spend more for these children, c) direct funding outside the formula for unique district needs and d) outcome incentives to reward district academic performance. However, there is no provision for a cost of living adjustment which negatively impacts Nashville and other districts. In addition, the calculation to determine economic disadvantage greatly understates this population as well as the undocumented students in urban areas like Nashville.
- Because of the way that TISA allocates State versus Local funding, it is highly likely that in its 4th year, TISA will trigger increases in local funding throughout the State through local sales and property tax hikes.
- Each local school district’s share of the funding for education is determined by a flawed Fiscal Capacity formula that exaggerates the ability of some communities to fund local education. As a result, communities like Nashville pay a disproportionate share of the cost while our state tax dollars subsidize other communities. Including a local capacity maximum (e.g. 50% for example) or an annual direct dollar allocation of funds to the districts negatively impacted by the formula would solve this problem.
NOAH’s position is that given the critical importance of getting TISA right, it is irresponsible for the legislature and the governor to move forward with the bill during this legislative session. The current surpluses provide ample funds to invest the $1 billion in public education in 2022 – 2023 under the current BEP formula, delay passage of TISA until the next session and spend the remainder of 2022 fully vetting the formula to ensure the investment in our children over the next decades will be spent wisely and equitably.
Please stay tuned for more on actions to Slow TISA Down!