Image Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Governor Bill Lee has named three appointments to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission.
Alan Levine of Washington County has been reappointed to represent East Tennessee, while Michael Carter of Davidson County and Chris Tutor of Shelby County are new appointees for Middle and West Tennessee. They will replace Dr. Derwin Signet and Dave Hanson on the 9-member commission.
The Commission was approved by the state legislature to begin handling charter school appeals beginning with the 2020-2021 school year after an increase in the number of charter school applications that were rejected by local education associations.
Three members were appointed from each of the state’s Grand Divisions with three of them serving three-year terms, three serving four-year terms, and the final three serving five-year terms. All subsequent members are appointed for five years.
While the Governor appoints members, all appointments must be approved by the General Assembly. There has been controversy since the inception of the Commission, with some legislators accusing members of “an enormous conflict of interest.”
Alan Levine has come under fire for his work with the State Collaborative for Reforming Education (SCORE). The organization has been accused of lobbying for charter schools.
“SCORE has worked for years and spent a lot of money, millions of dollars, trying to push charter schools,” said Representative John Clemmons (D-Nashville-District 55) to NewsChannel 5.
Some legislators, however, have expressed the necessity of having committee members who “have some familiarity with charter schools.”
Levine has experience as one of the initial members of the Commission and participated in the establishment of their inaugural policies and procedures. He is the Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health. He has previously served as a health policy advisory in Florida for Governors Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott, and Jeb Bush. He was also appointed as secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals by Governor Bobby Jindal.
Levine is not without experience in the realm of education, however. In addition to his work with SCORE, he is a member of the board of governors for the State University System of Florida, the overseeing body of the state’s 12 public universities. He has also previously served as the Chair of the Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council.
Michael Carter, one of the new appointees, is a Managing Partner of Pinnacle Construction Partners in Nashville. He is also the President and CEO of MAC, LLC, a commercial and residential development company.
When it comes to education, Carter has been active as the chairman of the Nashville Public Education Foundation. He also served as a member of the transition team for Shawn Joseph, former Director of Schools for Metro Nashville Public Schools. Carter also co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter school located in Detroit.
The final appointee, Chris Tutor, recently served as the Chairman of the Shelby County GOP. He is an attorney with Butler Snow LLP, working with their Finance, Real Estate, and Restructuring Group.
Thirteen appeals have been heard by the Commission since its start. Of those appeals, three were approved by the Commission, six were denied, and four withdrew the appeal prior to a decision being made.
Appointees will assume these roles pending approval by the General Assembly.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com