TNGOP: Turner ‘No Friend to Our Children or Minorities’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; February 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Never one to be bound by logic or facts, State Representative Mike Turner (D—Old Hickory) found yet another way to lodge his foot squarely in his mouth.

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R—Nashville) and many lawmakers are pushing for statewide charter school authorization. The bill removes government hurdles and allows for Tennessee to attract high-performing charter schools all across the state.

Turner, at a media availability, accused Speaker Harwell of supporting policies that will “lead to resegregation.”

Unfortunately all students are suffering. According to 2011 NAEP data, Tennessee’s public education system:

  • 49th in 4th Grade Math -Scale score 233 (7 points below National Average)
  • 41st in 4th Grade Reading -Scale score 215 (5 points below National Average)
  •  45th in 8th Grade Math -Scale score 274 (9 points below National Average)
  • 41st in 8th Grade Reading -Scale score 259 (5 points below National Average

The proficiency levels in the state are low. In 2011:

  • In 4th Grade Math – 71% of students are below proficient (30% proficient or advance)
  • In 4th Grade Reading – 75% of students are below proficient (26% proficient or advance)
  • In 8th Grade Math – 76% of students are below proficient (24% proficient or advance)
  • In 8th Grade Reading – 73% of students are below proficient (27% proficient or advance)

Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, stated, “Most legislators believe every child in Tennessee deserves the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Apparently, Mike Turner disagrees with that principle.”

He continued, “While Mike Turner spends time labeling Tennesseans ‘racist,’ he’s continually supporting policies that prop up the status quo and, more alarmingly, weigh down minorities and underprivileged children. Tennesseans want to know why he would continue to defend the current system which study after study shows is failing our students and robbing generation after generation of opportunity.”

According to Tennessee campaign finance data, Turner received:

  • $1,200 in the 2012 campaign cycle from the teacher’s union;
  • $2,500 in the 2010 campaign cycle from the teacher’s union.

“The facts prove Mike Turner is no friend to our children or minorities. Instead of standing with lawmakers who want to reform our poor education system by injecting opportunity and achievement into the equation, he’d rather pocket money from unions who put their own interests ahead of our children. It’s time to undo the mess in education that has been created after 150 years of bad policy, and that’s what our reform-minded legislators are doing now—raising standards and giving parents choices, and students the opportunity, for a better education,” concluded Devaney.