Music Education Supporters,
The Tennessee Education Savings Accounts Act (HB939), if passed as amended, would result in a likely decrease in both access to and funding for high-quality music education programs for our state's K-12 students. Please consider reaching out to your representatives and encourage them to oppose this legislation.
The bill, establishing what is commonly known as a voucher program, would allow parents in certain districts to move their children to private schools or online education programs and establish an Education Savings Account to pay for related expenses. The funding of these accounts would be taken from the local and state funding that would be spent on each student in their public school district. This proposal creates issues of both access and funding. Private schools and, particularly, online programs do not provide the same guarantee of elementary music instruction and provision of music course offerings in middle and high school that our public schools provide. Further, where music instruction is provided, it is not held to the expectations of the rigorous Tennessee Fine Arts Standards and is not required to be provided by licensed professional music educators.
When district funding and enrollment decreases through voucher programs, it results in an increase of per-student expenses to provide faculty, facilities, and equipment for thriving music programs. Such a system is likely to lead to long-term financial hardship for districts, many of them serving Tennessee's most vulnerable students who benefit most from school music programs. The net result would be a significant increase in educational spending as the state provides partial temporary reimbursement to affected districts, while the Education Savings Account funding creates new inefficiencies in spending, including up to a 6% administrative fee for the Department of Education, outlay for students' personal technology purchases and transportation needs, and management fees paid to private financial management organizations. In short, more money spent less directly in support of students and teachers with negative impacts on participating students' access to music experiences and a loss of funding support for existing music programs.
Thank you for your consideration and support of high-quality music education for every Tennessee student!
Tennessee Music Education Association State Board