"I am the Warrior"
Okay? We are not really sure what that has to do with school choice. But to say the least, there have been lots of changes in public education since Dusty was a schoolgirl. Brown v. Board of Education struck down public school segregation. IDEA federal legislation now guarantees special services to school children with disabilities. Kindergarten has become mandatory. Heck, we've even added to American History curriculum by putting a man on the moon.
Anyway, you get the picture...a whole lot has changed in over 60 years.
So, what's going on with Dusty now?
Well, that's not exactly clear either. Warrior Mom is telling her YouTube audience that she fights for her son, Josh. Then she tells a newspaper reporter that she is the parent of a student at Bachman Academy. So, you would think there would be a student at Bachman Academy named Josh and his mother would be our own Warrior Mom, Dusty Webb, right? But we checked the Bachman Academy yearbook and there is no "Josh" listed. We couldn't even find a student whose last name was Webb. Hmmmm...that is strange.
Before you think Momma Bears stayed up all night reading student names in a school annual, we should tell you that there are less than 40 students at Bachman Academy. Yes, that's right. Less than 40 kids in the whole school. So, going through the Bachman Academy yearbook was like calling roll in a high school English class.
"Since 1999, [Bachman Academy] has served students with learning differences from 27 states and 8 countries." The website goes on the say that "in 2004, the Academy became a SEVIS approved school and was able to accept international students with learning differences." SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and is used to maintain information on Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools. International students seem to be a big deal at Bachman Academy. You can read their six-page guide for foreign students here. Students come from as far away as the Middle East. One student (pictured on the left) is Andre from the United Arab Emirates, shown with his family on Graduation Day in 2011.
Shooting down public schools... BANG, BANG
During the event, Josh's Warrior Mom wrapped a symbolic yellow scarf around her neck and addressed an audience of private school parents about the need to fight for educational opportunities. She, along with Bachman Academy headmaster, Mark Frizzell, led an attack against public schools during a time when the Tennessee state legislature is debating school voucher bills. Frizzell told the audience that about 32 million Americans cannot read and 19 percent of all high school graduates finish school unable to read. He said, “the education system is in dire need of change,” and called it “a mess.” Frizzell added that it is important for governments to allocate more funding “toward all types of education” to make sure no students go without the teaching and help they need. “We have an obligation to provide different types of schools,” Frizzell said.
Heart to heart, we'll win. If we survive..."The Warrior"
Oh, here are a few thing we bet The Warrior forgot to mention about vouchers:
1. Not all students will be eligible for vouchers. Students who come from Tennessee school systems that are not in the bottom 5% will not qualify for Tennessee Opportunity Scholarships. And neither will all the students from other states or countries. So, out of people gathered to hear Warrior Mom's speech, how many will actually have children who qualify for Tennessee's proposed Opportunity Scholarships?
2. Bachman Academy would have to accept opportunity scholarships as payment in full for tuition even though the voucher amount (based on BEP funding) will likely be less than half of the minimum $20,500 day school tuition. We wonder how all those parents paying the full cost of tuition will feel about having state-funded students attending the same school for substantially less money? What does that say about Bachman Academy? Who will pick up the slack for the half-price voucher kids? Or if Bachman Academy can absorb these costs, then are parents being over charged for tuition at a so called "nonprofit" school?
3. Parents of children with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) would have to waive their rights to federal IDEA funding for special needs services. This is a big one and a relatively new concept in Tennessee. You can read more about it here in Tennessee Education Reports.
Momma Bears are not fooled by out-of-state special interest groups like Students First and Alliance for School Choice. We know vouchers are a bad deal for our children in Tennessee. We would love for every child to have access to a beautiful school campus and small class sizes. But pony rides and fishing poles are just not in the public school budget. And it would be unconscionable to subsidize private school education for a small number of students while depriving the most basic resources from those schools who must serve the needs of so many.