Is public education under-funded in Tennessee? One lawsuit says so
In a move that may possibly alter how state legislatures do business, the Hamilton County Department of Education has filed a lawsuit against the state for breaching “its duty under the Tennessee Constitution to provide a system of free public education for the children of this state.”
The basis of the lawsuit is that the state has failed its students by failing to properly fund the state’s Basic Education program. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the suit claims that the state “pays only for 10 months of teachers’ 12 months of insurance.”
But that funding shortage for teacher pay and benefits is around $600 million by way of Nooga.com.
The state’s legislature did recently sign off on the governor’s budget, which included about $175 million for teacher pay and benefits for 2015-16.
Still–seems to be too little, too late.
The attorney representing Hamilton County is attempting to get the judge presiding over the case to give the lawsuit class-action status as more school districts are set to join the lawsuit.
Of course this lawsuit hits at those who run politics in the state of Tennessee. In essence, state lawmakers in charge of funneling money towards public education have choked it off for one reason or another.
Lack of revenue, a need to increase taxes, diverted funding to other places, and etc., may all represents reasons why the state’s public education system has been under-funded. This suit aims to hold the state accountable and to give students a fair shake.
For what it’s worth, funding public education is a struggle for many politicians. Specifically in Tennessee, politicians have a constitutional mandate to capitalize the state’s basic education program, but higher education cuts into that funding since it is technically funded voluntarily.
This will, at the very least, force lawmakers to focus on how BEP is funded. Either that or it will start a war between public education officials and state senators and representatives. If so, students will be caught in the middle.
Hopefully this may all be avoided and a compromise reached. Funding public education is essential to the success of any state as the students being taught today are those participating in the state’s future workforce.