Two state campaigns in the 50CAN network, SouthCarolinaCAN and TennesseeCAN, recently wrapped up their legislative sessions. We’re proud of the success they’ve achieved, the progress made on several initiatives together and the hard-fought losses that will pave the way for the campaigns to come next year.
The stoplights below indicate a green light for an advocacy win, a yellow light for significant progress made towards a goal, and a red light for an advocacy loss. Read on to see what our local leaders have been working on in the Palmetto and Volunteer states.
Ensure the state has an accountability system that accurately identifies student achievement gaps and is publicly accessible for all.
SouthCarolinaCAN championed HB 3969 to create a unified school accountability system. The bill ensures the state will put significant weight on student achievement and growth, requires a categorical performance rating system for schools and moves up the deadline for public reporting of school report cards by three months. This bill passed the legislature and was signed by the governor in June. As a result of this legislation, school report cards will be published in the fall of 2017 for the first time in over two years.
Foster school turnaround and improvement driven by data at the local level.
SouthCarolinaCAN helped secure legislation to ensure that the state may continue to engage in school turnaround efforts for chronically underperforming schools through public-private partnerships, nonprofit charter management organizations and direct support.
Launch a new parent empowerment program to elevate parent voice and empower parents to drive policy change in public education on behalf of their children and their community.
In 2017, SouthCarolinaCAN
Pass legislation to support the charter school environment in Tennessee.
TennesseeCAN helped pass The Tennessee High-Quality Charter Schools Act, which makes several key improvements to Tennessee’s existing charter school law including stronger authorizer oversight, increased transparency and the establishment of a public charter school facilities fund. This legislation was passed and signed into law by the governor in May.
Secure legislative support for private school choice.
TennesseeCAN and partners help secure a major expansion of the Individualized Education Act (IEA), which allows parents of children with disabilities to direct their child’s state education funds toward schools, courses and services of their choice. This education savings account bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor in May. TennesseeCAN also worked on a Memphis voucher pilot which did not pass committee and has been deferred to 2018 for further action.
Support school turnaround options across the state. TennesseeCAN helped stop a number of bills that would have hamstrung school turnaround efforts across the state and successfully defended the state’s current law.
Support the implementation of fiscal transparency policies that provide more information on how education funds are spent. A yearlong goal, TennesseeCAN will be working on this reform through the end of 2017.
Support the implementation of school accountability frameworks.
TennesseeCAN played a role in the state Tennessee Department of Education working groups on ESSA frameworks and worked to protect and enhance school accountability. Through the summer and fall, TennesseeCAN will continue support for the implementation of the submitted ESSA guidelines.
Support a policy to collect information on student placement practices.
TennesseeCAN supported HB 997, an effort to shine a light on Tennessee’s student placement practices. While the legislation didn’t pass, TennesseeCAN will continue to work on this policy set next year, using their research “Student Placement: Ensuring All Students Have Equitable Access to Highly Effective Teachers” and other research as support.
We know that the end of a legislative session or the passage of a bill is not the end of our work, but rather a step in a continuing journey to bring a high-quality education to all kids, regardless of their address. We aim to learn from our successes and setbacks in Tennessee and South Carolina as we chart the path forward—and look forward to sharing our next update on our work in New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island in July. In the meantime, you can always follow along with the work our advocates are doing in the field on Facebook, Twitter and Insta