Tennessee Governor Bill Lee wants to add $1 billion to Tennessee’s nearly $6 billion education budget. Lee announced the proposed increase Monday night during his annual State of the State address, where he shared his 2022-23 priorities and highlights of his proposed budget. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 is $52.6 billion.
Some main lines for K-12 education include:
- $32 million for charter school facility funding.
- $125 million to increase teachers’ salaries.
- $200 million to relocate public schools to floodplains, including schools in Shelby County.
- $550 million in vocational and technical scholarships.
- $750 million for additional investments in education.
The money for the proposed raise for teachers received some of the loudest applause of the night.
“Historically, payroll funds don’t always reach deserving teachers, and when we say teachers get a raise, there should be no bureaucratic workaround to prevent that,” Lee said. “So in our updated funding formula, we will ensure that a teacher increase is a teacher increase.”
The injection of money for teacher salaries and education is part of Lee’s plan to overhaul education funding in Tennessee. the Education Law Center ranked Tennessee 43 out of 51 states in education funding and gave the voluntary state an F for its level of funding in its Making the Grade 2020 report.
Last year, Lee ordered a review of the basic education program, a funding formula with 46 components that determine how much money the state sends to districts for textbooks, technology and other needs. Under the proposed student-centered funding formula, districts and charter schools would get additional investments in education to help students who are dealing with issues such as learning disabilities and living in poverty, and that should mean more help for teachers in the classroom, said Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.
“Some of the things we’ve heard the most about are things like counselors and nurses and supports for students who need those supports and making sure our teachers can focus on academic teaching,” said Schwinn said in an interview before Lee’s speech. Schwinn added that teachers have asked for extra support for students with high needs.
“It’s time to do them some good, and I think that’s a good first step,” she added.
Pointing to a 2020 report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, some education advocates say Tennessee schools need a $1.7 billion money from the state, so even with the billion-dollar boost on offer Monday night, Tennessee education would still be underfunded.
Other organizations welcomed the governor’s announcement.
“Priorities set out in the state of the state, including an additional $1 billion investment in education, increased teacher salaries, and a dedication to expanding career and technical opportunities for students, if met, will make the 2022 legislative session a success. for Tennessee students and their future,” Adam Lister, president and CEO of Tennesseans for Student Success, a central Tennessee-based nonprofit, said in a statement.
“Governor Lee’s call to the General Assembly to review and improve how the state funds education is a transformative moment,” Lister added.
Lee has also weighed in on the culture wars in the classroom in the wake of anti-criticism race theory laws and national debates over when and how to teach children or prevent them from learning about them. harsh realities of US history.
Lee pointed to recently introduced legislation to ban certain books from Tennessee libraries. He announced a state partnership with Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian college in Hillsdale, Michigan, to expand civic education in Tennessee that promotes “enlightened patriotism.” He also announced that the state would donate $6 million to establish the Institute of American Civics at the University of Tennessee, a center that would combat what he described as ‘un-American thinking’ in education. superior.
A replay of the governor’s speech is on his Youtube channel.