Smith: Funding education failure is indefensible

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen talks about the state's plan for education Tuesday night at Orchard Knob Elementary School. The plan is called "Every Student Succeeds Act" (ESSA).
photo Robin Smith

Last week, Candice McQueen, Tennessee's education commissioner, spoke to state legislators who serve on two education committees. Her presentation was not only remarkable, it was alarming, but finally, reassuring.

While addressing the state's reform efforts in failing schools, McQueen said the school turnaround effort was "a little embarrassing," referring to the first list of "priority" schools published in 2012. Only about 20 schools have moved off the list of 83 substandard schools since the original assessment.

"We can't keep throwing $10 million, $11 million, $12 million, $15 million at solutions that are not solutions," the commissioner told members of both House education committees.

Every three years a priority list is compiled and published by the state Department of Education.