Image Credit: TN Dept of Education / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
A bill that would have eliminated the maximum class size in Tennessee public schools failed in the House K-12 Subcommittee on Tuesday.
House Bill 0809 (HB0809), sponsored by Representative Debra Moody (R-Covington-District 81), presented the bill to the committee during their March 21 meeting. She expressed that the goal of the bill was to give more control to local education associations in determining class sizes.
The committee then went out of session to hear from Tennessee Education Association (TEA) lobbyist Jim Wrye. According to Wrye, if class maximums are eliminated, there would be an “inevitable drift to increase class sizes.”
When asked if there was data to support one side of the issue or another, Wrye noted that the literature points to smaller class sizes providing greater outcomes because more students are able to receive the individual attention they need.
After the committee returned to session, Moody reiterated that the purpose of the bill is to give freedoms back to the LEAs.
Representative Sam McKenzie (D-Knoxville-District 15) stated that doing away with the class maximum would lead to larger classes.
“Is that what you want?” he asked.
Moody responded, “I want LEAs to have flexibility,” noting that communities and teachers could speak up if their districts began to take advantage of the change.
Representative Bryan Richey (R-Maryville-District 20) stated that, while he loves local control, he did not like the idea of putting extra students on Tennessee teachers and could not support the bill. He said that it was difficult to see the benefit when legislators are already having conversations about students not achieving and needing more individual attention.
Representative Chris Hurt (R-Halls-District 82) spoke in favor of the bill. He said he liked local control and local decisions and stated that he trusted the local LEAs to make the right decisions about class sizes.
Following this, a voice vote was taken. Nays prevailed and the bill failed due to a lack of majority vote. No individual votes were recorded.
The companion Senate Bill 0197 passed a floor vote on March 6th, but because the bill failed to pass in the House, it will not progress any further this session.
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