Senate Candidate Says Education Should Focus on Student Achievement, Not Corporate Profit Margins
Maria Brewer, candidate for state Senate, says the legislature made a multi-million dollar mistake that is shortchanging our children’s future when it approved the for-profit cyber school scheme pushed by outside special interests.
As a state senator, she plans to fix it.
“Making a profit by cheapening our children’s education and stealing tax dollars right out of our pockets is just wrong,” said Brewer, who’s running for State Senate District 18, which includes all of Sumner and Trousdale counties, and an eastern slice of Davidson County. “As parents, community members, and teachers, we clearly see that funneling our tax dollars away from the classroom and into the pockets of wealthy CEOs cheats us out of our hard-earned money and cheats our children out of the education they deserve.”
Brewer says teachers, parents and education advocates are already struggling with budget cuts and children who lack having basic school supplies.
“The legislature is too blinded by lobbyist money to see the harsh reality staring them in the face,” Brewer said. “They passed a law that made it legal to hand millions of dollars over to a big out-of-state corporation: K12, Inc. But just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it is not stealing.”
K12, Inc. is the Virginia-based company co-founded in 2000 with a multi-million dollar investment from disgraced financier Michael Milken, who served two years in prison for securities fraud. In 2011 by passing the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA) law, Republican lawmakers legalized public cyber-schools, clearing the way for the profiteering K12, Inc. to move into Tennessee.
“These cyber-schools don’t pay for lights, heat or air conditioning, they have no books or transportation. And while parents pay nothing for the opportunity to enroll their child in this so-called public school, We the Tax Payers foot the bill for this corporation’s failing grade,” Brewer said.
After one year in existence, the Union County School System, where the K12, Inc.-operated TN Virtual Academy is headquartered, required an $8 million increase in funding. Yet this cyber-school scored in the bottom 11 percent of school performance in the state. Governor Bill Haslam’s education commissioner called TNVA student test scores “unacceptable,” and state officials have called for an investigation into the Tennessee Virtual Academy and the law that created it.
“How do rotten laws like this even happen? It’s unacceptable that our state legislature in a flurry of last minute bills, cleared the way for this corrupting, greed-motivated law to go into effect. This is the kind of act of deliberate political pay-off that has to stop. It’s part and parcel of an agenda that cares nothing for people and works overtime for pay-offs. Only ‘We the People’ can put a stop to it, by electing leaders who will represent the middle class, not sell us out,” Brewer said.
“I’ll never put the moral and economic value of education at the mercy of political wheeling and dealing. And I’ll never let our children become profit machines for a system that sees everything with a dollar bill attached. In America, we profit the right way,” said Brewer, “by buying and selling goods and services, not buying and selling children and their futures, that’s why I’m running for State Senate.”
Funding for each child enrolled in K-12 comes from schools in the child’s home county. Every child that enrolls takes money out of their home county and moves that money to the K-12 virtual school. Instead of investing extra funds in efforts that support student achievement, the Basic Education Program provided by our state taxes is eaten up by huge corporate profits.