TN House IEA Bill (Special Ed Vouchers)

These are notes from the final House debate on the IEA bill (sometimes called IEP vouchers), on April 22, 2015, and is not meant to serve as minutes or a full transcript.

A list of those voting for and against is available at the bottom of the page.


Representative Calfee asks whether this is a voucher bill.
Representative Moody says it is not.

Calfee asks whether there is a list of approved vendors.
Moody says there is no list of approved vendors.

Calfee asks about established rules for vendors
There is no list of rules for vendors. The sponsor, Moody, says she “believes there will be” rules.

Calfee: “Is there a plan, for when the child returns to the school system, and the money has been spent?”
Moody says that giving the money in quarterly installments will solve that.

Representative Matthew Hill Notes that it comes out to $550 per month – and that you “cannot get hardly any services” for that.

Hill spoke with a parent who is spending $20,000 per year, out of pocket, in ADDITION to public school services. He is concerned that parents will see this as a “golden ticket” and take students out, later returning to the school system, and causing the child to possibly regress in their therapy.

Moody says 1-5% of eligible students choose to use the program… noting statistics, studies… but NEVER says that anything shows how it impacts the CHILDREN.

Questions about how these disabilities in the list were chosen.
Moody says Gresham’s research analyst chose the 7 disabilities listed.

Was the health department consulted? No.

Several from Moody’s party are saying things like: “You’re my friend, and I support you, but I can’t support this bill.”

Representative Roger Kane calls this bill a “supplemental health plan.”

Representative Harry Brooks discusses mainstreaming. He says that sometimes the child is in an exclusive environment, and sometimes he/she is slowly moved from an exclusive environment to a less exclusive environment. Brooks says that he knows a parent who is traveling from Knoxville to Nashville, daily, for services. He says that, for services that are not offered, under IDEA, the parent can sue to get those services… and he wants to give that money to the parents, to avoid lawsuits for the LEAs!

[It sounds like Brooks would rather have parents sign away their rights, under IDEA, than either give them the resources they need, or risk a lawsuit for the school district.]

Representative Andy Holt: “This is a great opportunity, for two classes of people…” parents, students, and those who have been called into this ministry, of working with these students.

Representative Hulsey asks what parents are waiving.
Moody can’t answer him.
Rep Roger Kane begins reading the bill out loud.

Representative Joe Pitts – asks HOW individual buying power allows a parent to get more services than as part of a group.
Moody says that it is because parents will look far and wide.

Pitts is concerned that we are subjecting our most vulnerable citizens to predatory companies, since parents are also required to waive their rights, under IDEA.

Moody’s answer is that they will be sure “that kind of company” doesn’t get on the approved list, although she doesn’t have an approved list.

Representative Courtney Rogers (Goodlettville) compares public schools to “State control” and says that she has seen more freedom in her studies, as a Soviet analyst.

Representative Forgety is reminded of a country song: “There ain’t no good guys; there ain’t no bad guys, and we just disagree.” He talks about the law that requires inclusion and mainstreaming, and research showing that students flourish, when they are included. He says that parents know best, and that is why the law includes the IEP, with parents as the major player in that process

Forgety notes that the program in Florida has NO data on students in a similar program and that has no accountability.

Moody says that teachers are “very frustrated, working with these children,” and that teachers say the students would do better in another setting.
[What a terrible characterization of teachers.]


Passed 52. Nay 43.

Ayes – 52

Brooks, H.
Brooks, K.
Hill, T.
Sexton, J.
Van Huss
White, D.
White, M.
Speaker Harwell

NOES – 43

Hill, M.
Present, not voting: 0
Not voting:      4        Harrison         Lamberth         Jernigan,         E. Sexton, C.

Florida Fails to Deliver Useful Testing Schedule

Florida is now saying they will not have test results until sometime next fall, partially due to the process used in computing “cut scores.”

I thought these tests are supposed to be used to “inform instruction.” Isn’t that what they keep telling us? How do they “inform instruction” when the results aren’t available for MONTHS???

When I take a computer based certification test, I get my score IMMEDIATELY – on the screen, with a copy sent to a printer.  The difference?  No Dept. of Ed, scamming the scores.  Ahem… I mean, “computing cut scores.”

New Florida law will delay school test results for months

“Once the cut scores are set, Stewart said, the reporting of results should return to the early summer, as in the past.”

How is that better?  Those results still do NOTHING to “inform instruction,” and can only be used to sort students and build data banks.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says test scores could be delayed eight months.

FL Education Commissioner Pam Stewart


Some Knox County Board of Education members have recently said that they have never heard of the Broad Foundation, which is odd, because

  1. The community has been telling the Board about Broad since 2010
  2. The KCS superintendent’s “credentials” are from Broad
  3. Several “Broad Fellows” have been hired as employees of the KCS BOE
  4. It has been all over education news outlets and social media – for YEARS

Did I mention that we have been telling them???

If your BOE member is one who has been ignoring the community for the past 5 years, I doubt this information will help them. However, sharing this information with others will help replace those folks on the Board with candidates who actually pay attention to what is happening in their school system!


The following is paraphrased from the original, which can be found here:
How to Tell if Your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus

You might have the “Broad Virus” if your district sees:

  • Repeated use of the terms “excellence,” “best practices,” & “data-driven decisions.” (& noted absence of same)
  • False or cherry-picked “data,” used to justify reforms.
  • A culture of fear of reprisal
  • Ballooning of the central office along side painful cuts to classrooms.
  • Sudden increase in number of paid outside consultants
  • Teachers referred to as “human capital” – not people, educators, or staff and not allowed to be creative, passionate, inspired, but merely “effective”
  • Excessive testing introduced & imposed on kids
  • “Broad Residents” ($90,000 ea) appear in strategically important positions
  • Superintendent behaves as if he is beyond reproach.
  • The superintendent has the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent (plus benefits & car) & community is told it is a “competitive rate for a city this size”
  • Superintendent bypasses board & keeps them out of the loop on issues
  • School board candidates receive unprecedented amounts of campaign money from business interests. [or the governor’s family…]

More information is available below: 

A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s Training Programs & Education Policies by Parents Across America (pdf factsheet).
Broad Foundation’s Plan to Expand Influence in School Reform
Meet the Broad Superintendents
Momma Bears Diagnosis:  How to tell if your School District is infected by the Gates-Broad-Walton Virus
The Broad Report

Stop TN School Voucher Bill HB1049


The House has voted to suspend the rules and allow items to “Flow” through committees, even if they are not on the calendar! That means the voucher bill could pass through the subcommittee and on to the full committee very, quickly.

This bill needs to be stopped now.

Please encourage your relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and friends (heck, even call on your enemies!) to do a little letter writing, to tell the Finance Ways and Means subcommittee that taking money AWAY from struggling schools and giving it to private institutions is NOT the way to help struggling schools and neighborhoods succeed!

If you need ideas to get your letter started, NEA has a great article:
The Case Against Vouchers

More info is available at the following links:
Fiscal impact to TN:

“… the shift of state and required local BEP funding from these local education agencies to the non-public participating schools is estimated as follows:
 $  16,570,000.00 in FY15-16;
 $  25,473,800.00 in FY16- 17;
 $  34,815,000.00 in FY17-18; and an amount exceeding
 $  69,630,000.00 in FY18-19 and subsequent years.”

[$146,488,800.00+ in the first 4 years]

The full bill:

Amendments to the original bill:

Also – please note that the Knox County Board of Education voted AGAINST supporting vouchers, yet Representative Dunn keeps pushing on, claiming to be doing it “for Memphis.” I have been in several of those committee meetings, and have yet to hear anyone from Memphis asking for this kind of support. On the contrary, their representatives are voting AGAINST this bill.

While writing, it would also be worthwhile to contact Representatives Harry Brooks, Bill Dunn, and Eddie Smith, to ask why they voted for the supposed interests of Memphis, rather than representing their constituents in Knoxville!


House Subcommittee – Finance Ways and Means

If you prefer to email all sub-committee members at once, just copy/past the list below into your email address field:;;;;;

***Depending on your mail program, you may need to use commas, rather than semicolons, between recipients. You may also choose to click each email link to send individual emails. If you have problems with the list or the links, please let me know: Email Me.

Additional information about the subcommittee is here:

Additional information about the full committee is here:

House – Finance Ways and Means Full Committee

Knox County Representatives:

Representative Joe Armstrong
D – Knoxville
District 15: Part of Knox County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 33 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-0768
Fax: (615) 253-0316

Representative Bill Dunn
R – Knoxville
District 16: Part of Knox Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 115 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1721
Fax: (615) 253-0276

Representative Ryan A. Haynes
R – Knoxville
District 14: Part of Knox County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 214 War Memorial Bldg.
Nashville TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2264
Fax: (615) 253-0317

Committee Chair
Representative Charles Sargent
R – Franklin
Dist 61: Part of Williamson Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 206 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-6808
Fax: (615) 253-0217

Committee Vice-Chair
Representative David Alexander
R – Winchester
Dist 39: Moore, part of Franklin and Marion Counties
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 107 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-8695
Fax: (615) 253-0314

Representative Kevin Brooks
R – Cleveland
District 24: Part of Bradley County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 103 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1350
Fax: (615) 253-0346

Representative Karen D. Camper
D – Memphis
Dist 87: Part of Shelby County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 32 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1898
Fax: (615) 253-0211

Representative Mike Carter
R – Ooltewah
Dist 29: Part of Hamilton County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite G-3 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN. 37243
Phone: (615) 741-3025
Fax: (615) 253-0241

Representative Barbara Ward Cooper
D – Memphis
Dist 86: Part of Shelby County
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 38 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-4295
Fax: (615) 253-0327

Representative Craig Fitzhugh
D – Ripley
Dist 82: Lauderdale, Crockett & Haywood Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 33 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2134
Fax: (615) 741-1446

Representative Brenda Gilmore
D – Nashville
Dist 54: Part of Davidson Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 26 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1997
Fax: (615) 253-0361

Representative Mike Harrison
R – Rogersville
Dist 9: Hancock and Hawkins Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 206-A War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone (615) 741-7480
Fax (615) 253-0307

Representative David B. Hawk
R – Greeneville
Dist 5: Part of Greene Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 201 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone (615) 741-7482
Fax (615) 253-0210

Representative Patsy Hazlewood
R – Signal Mountains
Dist 27: Part of Hamilton Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 20 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2746
Fax: (615) 253-0304

Representative Matthew Hill
R – Jonesborough
Dist 7: Part of Washington Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 23 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone (615) 741-2251
Fax (615) 253-0299

Representative Curtis Johnson
R – Clarksville
Dist 68: Part of Montgomery Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 15 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-4341
Fax: (615) 253-0269

Representative Susan Lynn
R – Mount Juliet
Dist 57: Wilson Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 104 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-7462
Fax: (615) 741-0353

Representative Gerald McCormick
R – Chattanooga
Dist 26: Part of Hamilton Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 18-A Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2548
Fax: (615) 253-0305

Representative Steve McDaniel
R – Parkers Crossroads
Dist 72: Henderson, Chester, Decatur & Perry Counties
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 18 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-0750
Fax: (615) 253-0213

Representative Steve McManus
R – Cordova
Dist 96: Part of Shelby Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 20 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1920
Fax: (615) 253-0232

Representative Larry J. Miller
D – Memphis
Dist 88: Part of Shelby Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 36 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-4453
Fax: (615) 253-0329

Representative Bo Mitchell
D – Nashville
Dist 50: Part of Davidson Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 37 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-4317
Fax: (615) 741-0360

Representative Curry Todd
R – Collierville
Dist 95: Part of Shelby Co
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 209 War Memorial Bldg
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-1866
Fax: (615) 253-0208