Tennessee doesn’t spend enough on public schools, but it distributes what it does spend relatively fairly, according to a new national report.
The state earned a C-minus overall in public education on Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report, ranking 36th of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. The overall grade takes into account finance, performance and “chance for success,” a category representing the role that education plays in outcomes from early education to adulthood.
Tennessee’s lowest grade was in spending: an F and a national ranking of 46th. However, the state received a B-plus and ranked No. 5 for equity in distributing funding across districts. The finance grade was based on federal data from 2014.
The state’s highest grade was in the category of “chance for success,” scoring a 73.7, or a C.
The report, released last week, comes as Gov. Bill Haslam prepares to present his annual budget for 2017-18 following several years of spending increases for K-12 education. He hinted after a budget hearing in November that he’ll propose more increases for teacher pay, but nothing drastic.
“We will continue to invest in education whenever we can, but we would like to be thoughtful,” Haslam said.
Education funding, and how it should be distributed, has been a perennial fight in Tennessee, spawning three lawsuits from local districts in the last two years.
The Tennessee Legislature convenes on Jan. 10.