Former Education Commish Kevin Huffman (aka,” Count Commoncore”) may have pulled a Bela Lugosi and climbed out of his grave to torture the villagers all over again. The latest sighting of the bloodsucker of Tennessee taxpayers may have come during the debate going on in the legislature over the future of the start-up Tennessee Virtual Academy – an organization for which Huffman carried a near-pathological hatred.
Huffman’s minions who are still lurking about the shadows of the Department of Education seem determined to carry out his vendetta against the Academy. Some parents of TNVA students have filed suit claiming that Huffman’s order to close the school was illegal, in part because the three year period for earning a “1” rating (on a 5 scale) under the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS) – a rating that could allow a closure — hasn’t happened. Legislation passed in 2013 allowed the Commissioner to close underperforming schools, but as the parents point out, the required third school year assessment and rating won’t occur until the 2015-16 school year.
Huffman’s replacement, Commissioner Candice McQueen, continues to demand that the school close and is being urged on by Mark “Mr. Personality” Cate. TNVA says it will likely hit a 2 on the TVAAS scale this year. McQueen has raised the stakes and is now demanding a 3 before the state will back off. Worse, the Academy’s closing will force its 1,300 students into other schools…many of which are lower performing schools than TNVA. Yeah, that makes lots of sense.
Since there are at least 100 other schools who were also rated as underperforming for three years, it is not really clear why Huffman and his unholy band of deadhead bureaucrats targeted this one school. None of the other schools are being forced to close.
The Commissioner of Education could back off. The Governor could tell her to back off. The courts could force the state to follow its own law and leave TNVA alone for at least another year. Or the taxpayers could get some torches, pitchforks and Holy water and finish the job.
So, almost exactly one year after the House blindsided Kevin by dumping PARCC testing and delaying Common Core, Kevin may be getting a measure of revenge by leaving behind an issue that could be toxic to those same legislators. The power to indiscriminately close some under-performing schools while keeping other open was likely not a feature of the original legislation – especially if the administration selectively chooses schools to close based on their location, say, like in the districts of those legislators who have opposed the governor on other issues? It could happen. Just ask Advance Tennessee PAC.
Was Count Kevin really that smart? Has he just left a flaming bag of dog poop on the doorstep of schools like Von Helsing Elementary in Grundy County, not to mention the porches of unwary legislators, while he sits back and laughs?
Either way, this really sucks.