100+ Local Leaders Endorse TISA

Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | 09:36am


Strong support from county mayors, school district directors in each Grand Division

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s new student-based funding formula, called the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement formula (TISA), is gaining widespread support from more than 100 local leaders and stakeholders across the state.

“The most important part of preparing our state for future growth is improving public education for every child in Tennessee,” said Gov. Lee. “For the first time in 30 years, we have a unique opportunity to replace Tennessee’s outdated K-12 funding formula with a modern, student-focused approach, and we are honored to have strong support from countless local leaders who agree the time is now.”

“Thanks to thousands of Tennesseans sharing their hopes and dreams for the future of public education in our state, the proposed student-based public school funding formula, the TISA, is reflective of Tennessee’s values and focuses on the needs of each individual student,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Tennessee has an historic opportunity to transform the way we fund public schools and put the future of our students first with the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement.”

Over 100 local leaders and stakeholders – including county mayors, school district directors, chambers of commerce, non-profits, and more – have agreed to share their support:

  • ALLMemphis— Krista Johnson, Executive Director
  • American Federation for Children—John Patton, Tennessee State Director
  • Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank
  • Anderson County SchoolsDr. Tim Parrott, Director of Schools
  • API Middle Tennessee— Joseph Gutierrez, Executive Director
  • Ayers Foundation—Janet Ayers, President
  • Barbara and Pitt Hyde
  • Beacon Center of Tennessee—Justin Owen, President & Chief Executive Officer
  • Bedford County Schools Dr. Tammy Garrett, Director of Schools
  • Benwood Foundation—Sarah Morgan, President
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Statewide Association—Tyler Boldin, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee; Liaison of Big Brothers Big Sisters Statewide Association
  • Blount County PartnershipBryan Daniels, President and CEO
  • Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis
  • Bristol City SchoolsDr. Annette Tudor, Director of Schools
  • Carroll County Mayor Joseph Butler
  • Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby
  • Carter County SchoolsDr. Tracy McAbee, Director of Schools
  • Centro Hispano de East Tennessee Claudia Caballero, President & CEO
  • Cheatham County Schools—Dr. Cathy Beck, Director of Schools
  • Cleveland - Bradley Chamber of CommerceMike Griffin, President and CEO
  • Cocke County SchoolsManney Moore, Director of Schools
  • Dickson County Schools Dr. Danny Weeks, Director of Schools
  • Diverse Learners Cooperative— Brooke Allen, Executive Director
  • Elizabethton City SchoolsRichard VanHuss, Director of Schools
  • Equal Chance for Education — Molly Haynes, Executive Director
  • ExcelinEd in ActionJeb Bush, Founder and Chairman; Patricia Levesque, Executive Director
  • Fentress County Mayor Jimmy Johnson
  • First 8 Memphis — Gwendy Williams, Director of Strategic Operations
  • Funding Review English Learning Subcommittee Member—Raul Lopez, Executive Director, Latinos for Tennessee
  • Funding Review Principal Subcommittee Member—Nancy Lay
  • Funding Review Student Subcommittee Member: 2021-22 President, Tennessee SkillsUSA; Lawrence County High SchoolKevin Hu
  • Funding Review Student Subcommittee Member: Representative of Sumner County Board of Education; Beech High School—Ella Paligo
  • Funding Review Student Subcommittee Member: Vice President, West Tennessee DECA; Waverly Central High SchoolMansi Patel
  • Funding Review Teacher Subcommittee Member: 2020-21 Teacher of the Year finalist, Tullahoma City Schools, South Central RegionSamantha Stevens
  • Funding Review Teacher Subcommittee Member: 2021-22 Teacher of the Year finalist, Anderson County Schools, East RegionElizabeth Evans
  • FUTURO, Inc. — Jennifer Novo, Executive Director
  • Greater Memphis Chamber—Beverly Roberston, President and CEO
  • Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison
  • Greene County SchoolsDavid McLain, Director of Schools
  • Greeneville City SchoolsSteve Starnes, Director of Schools
  • Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady
  • Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain
  • Hamblen County SchoolsDr. Jeff Perry, Director of Schools
  • Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger
  • Hancock County SchoolsCharlotte Mullins, Director of Schools
  • Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis
  • Hawkins County SchoolsMatt Hixson, Director of Schools
  • HOLA Lakeway — Betsy Hurst, Executive Director
  • Hyde Family Foundation—Teresa Sloyan, President
  • Janet and Jim Ayers
  • Jefferson County Mayor Mark Potts
  • Johnson City SchoolsDr. Steve Barnett, Director of Schools
  • Johnson County SchoolsDr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Schools
  • Kingsport City SchoolsDr. Jeff Moorhouse, Director of Schools
  • Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs
  • Knox Education FoundationChris Letsos, CEO
  • Knoxville Area Urban League — Phyllis Nichols, CEO
  • Lawrence County Chamber of CommerceRyan Egly, Lawrence, President and CEO
  • Lawrence County Executive T.R. Williams
  • Libertas School of Memphis—Bob Nardo, Executive Director
  • Loudon County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw
  • Marshall County Schools—Jacob Sorrells, Director of Schools
  • Memphis Restorative Justice Coalition Timothy Green Jr., Co-Founder
  • My Brother’s Keeper – NashvilleLonnell Matthews, Co-Chair
  • NAACP of TN—Gloria Sweet-Love, President
  • Nashville Area Chamber of CommerceRalph Schulz, President and CEO
  • Nashville Public Education Foundation Katie Cour, President and CEO
  • Newport City SchoolsSandra Burchette, Director of Schools
  • Nikki and Scott Niswonger
  • Niswonger Foundation—Nancy Dishner, President & CEO
  • Oasis Center Judy Freudenthal, Legacy Relations
  • Persist Nashville Inc. Scott Campbell, Executive Director
  • Public Education Foundation- Chattanooga —Dr. Dan Challener, President
  • Reason Foundation—Aaron Garth Smith, Director of Education Reform; Christian Barnard, Education Policy Analyst
  • Rogersville City SchoolsEdwin Jarnagin, Director of Schools
  • Rutherford County Heritage Sentinels—Katherine Hudgins, President
  • Seeding Success Mark Sturgis, CEO
  • Stand for Children TennesseeCardell Orrin, Executive Director
  • State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)—David Mansouri, President and CEO
  • Sullivan County SchoolsEvelyn Rafalowski, Director of Schools
  • Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE)—Blair Taylor, President and CEO
  • Tennesseans for Student Success—Adam Lister, President and CEO
  • Tennessee Afterschool Network Mary Graham, President and CEO
  • Tennessee Alliance for Equity in Education
  • Tennessee Business Roundtable—Patrick J. Sheehy, President
  • Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and IndustryBradley Jackson, President and CEO
  • Tennessee Charter School Center—Dr. Maya Bugg, CEO
  • Tennessee Disability Coalition Jeff Strand, Coordinator of Governmental and External Affairs; Carol Westlake, Executive Director
  • Tennessee Educators of Color AllianceDiarese George, Executive Director
  • Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights CoalitionLisa Sherman Luna, Executive Director
  • Tennessee PTADwight Hunter, President
  • Tennessee Rural Education AssociationJared Bigham, Board Chair
  • Tennessee School Counselor AssociationLauren Baker, Director of Legislation and Public Policy
  • TennesseeCAN—Victor Evans, Executive Director
  • The Arc TennesseeJennifer Aprea, Director of Family Engagement in Special Education
  • The Education Trust in Tennessee Gini Pupo-Walker, State Director
  • The Memphis Education Fund – Terence Patterson, President and CEO
  • The Memphis LiftSarah Carpenter, Executive Director
  • TN Latin American Chamber of Commerce Jessie Garcia Knowles, Executive Director
  • tnAchieves—Krissy DeAlejandro, Executive Director
  • Unicoi County SchoolsJohn English, Director of Schools
  • Union County Mayor Jason Bailey
  • United Ways of TennesseeMary Graham, President
  • Urban Child Institute Gary Shorb, Executive Director
  • Urban League of Greater Chattanooga Candy Johnson, President and CEO
  • Urban League of Middle TennesseeClifton Harris, President and CEO
  • Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy Samantha Singer-Swafford, Director
  • Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy
  • Washington County SchoolsJerry Boyd, Director of Schools
  • Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum
  • Whole Child Strategies, Inc.Natalie J. McKinney, Executive Director and Co-Founder
  • YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee ValleyRachel Haverkamp, CEO

Additionally, education stakeholders and organizations have shared statements and letters of support for the TISA:

“TISA...offers a new path with the potential to change students’ lives for the better. Missing the opportunity to do something significant this year would be a shame. Lawmakers should ask hard questions and seek equity for all school districts across Tennessee. This landmark legislation is a good step in that direction.” -The Tennessean Editorial Board

“’After much analysis of the plan, and speaking with business leaders across the state, we are confident this is the right step for our education system,’ said Chamber President and CEO, Bradley Jackson. ‘In addition to providing a student-tailored and transparent K-12 school funding mechanism, TISA also provides new funding for strengthening career and technical (CTE) programming and a career centered emphasis that are extremely important to the Chamber’s workforce/education efforts.’” -Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry

“In announcing the organization’s support for TISA, Roundtable President Pat Sheehy noted that the plan’s provisions respond to several of the Tennessee business community’s strategic education priorities. ‘In reviewing the TISA proposal, our business leaders asked themselves, ‘Will this improve student outcomes? Will this improve equity for all Tennessee students? Will this improve Tennessee’s workforce? Is now the right time for funding reform?’ In every case, we concluded that the answer for TISA was yes,’ said Sheehy.” -Tennessee Business Roundtable

“We are proud to be partners with Governor Lee and Commissioner Penny Schwinn as they strengthen Tennessee’s education system by creating policies that empower parents, support students, and enable educators. And by making early literacy a priority, Governor Lee is creating a strong foundation for all Tennessee students by making vital strides toward the critical goal of ensuring all students are reading at a young age, and on path toward future academic success.” -Jeb Bush, Founder and Chairman, ExcelinEd in Action

“We believe the student-centered approach in the new TISA funding formula, which provides even greater funding for economically disadvantaged students, those with unique learning needs, English Language learners, among others, will have a direct and positive impact on those students and our educators, leading to better educational outcomes for all Tennessee students.” - Victor Evans, Executive Director, TennesseeCAN;  John Patton, Tennessee State Director, American Federation for Children

“This approach is a vast improvement for two key reasons: transparency and accountability. First, everyone — parents, educators, and taxpayers alike — can easily understand how much we are spending on each child’s education, a far cry from the current model. This transparency alone will improve educational outcomes, because when we know how much we spend and on what, we can demand more accountability.” -Justin Owen, President and CEO, Beacon Center of Tennessee

“The Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement proposal to modernize the way we fund every Tennessee public school student represents a desire to improve outcomes for students across the state and from a variety of backgrounds. As we take time to fully analyze this proposal and hold discussions with lawmakers, education leaders, teachers, and parents, we also recognize that now is the time for action. We believe delaying or disengaging in this discussion any longer impedes a generational opportunity to positively impact millions of students.” -Tennesseans for Student Success

“Gov. Lee and Commissioner Schwinn’s education funding plan will improve the state’s education system by ensuring funding is more student-centered. This bold proposal ensures that the quality of education in the state improves, schools are better funded and educators are better supported.” -Patricia Levesque, Executive Director, ExcelinEd in Action

“The proposed Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) formula would increase recurring K-12 education funding by $1 billion and creates a strong, student-weighted funding approach that directs more resources to students with unique learning needs, students who are economically disadvantaged, and students living in communities that are rural or have     concentrated poverty.” -State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)

“We applaud the new TISA’s student-centered approach that recognizes and supports the unique needs of Tennessee students. Alongside the additional $1 billion in funding for public education, this is a big win for Tennessee children and vital to building a better foundation for educational success.” -Tennesseans for Quality Early Education

“....Policymakers are on the right path to adopting a more fair, transparent and flexible school finance system. With the state experiencing a hefty budget surplus, legislators have a historic opportunity in 2022 to make students the focus of Tennessee’s funding strategy for K-12 education. This would be a win for kids, educators and taxpayers.” -Reason Foundation

To learn more about the TISA and access additional resources, visit the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.