Who was at the closed-door DeVos meeting?

While reporters headed out to set up for a photo-op and gaggle at a Nashville charter school, Gov. Bill Lee and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hosted a closed-door roundtable in a conference room in the state Capitol. The specifics of what was discussed were not divulged, but attendees helpfully took photos to give hints about who was there.

Besides the usual suspects of Senate and House leadership, the Beacon Center appears to have been heavily represented with Vice Chairman Joe Scarlett (the retired head of Tractor Supply Co.), board member Fred Decosimo (Lee’s campaign treasurer), and President Justin Owen. Others included Lee Barfield (a former lobbyist and longtime voucher advocate), Victor Evans (of TennesseeCAN), Hugh Morrow (president of Ruby Falls), Bradley Jackson (head of the state Camber), and Mark Gill (president of Rodgers Capital Group). Not pictured is Scarlett’s daughter, Tara.

Seemingly not in attendance? State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. (We hear she was out of town on TNReady business)

Recognize anyone else?

UPDATE: Readers suggest that the man at top right, next to Gresham, is Ted Alling of the Lamp Post Group, a co-founder of the Chattanooga Prep charter school. And the on the left, next to Lee Barfield is Glen Gaugh of Madison County, who unsuccessfully challenged then-Rep. Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson) in the 2016 Republican primary.

UPDATE No. 2: Chalkbeat’s Marta Aldrich takes all the fun out it by obtaining an official invite list:

Here’s the list of roundtable participants provided Tuesday by the U.S. education department:

  • U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
  • Gov. Bill Lee
  • Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge
  • House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin
  • Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville
  • Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis
  • Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville
  • Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin
  • Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown
  • Gillum Ferguson, American Federation for Children
  • Shaka Mitchell, American Federation for Children
  • Val Armstrong, American Water
  • Lee Barfield, Bass Berry & Sims
  • Justin Owen, Beacon Center of Tennessee
  • Doug Jahner, Bellevue Harpeth Chamber of Commerce
  • Rebecca Hammel, Diocese of Nashville
  • Rick Musacchio, Diocese of Nashville
  • Fred Decosimo, Elliott Davis Accounting
  • Marlon King, superintendent, Fayette County Public Schools
  • Doug Daugherty, Hamilton Flourishing
  • Ted Alling, Lamp Post Group
  • Hugh Maclellan, Maclellan Foundation
  • Mark Gill, Rodgers Capital
  • Hugh Morrow, Ruby Falls
  • Joe Scarlett, Scarlett Family Foundation
  • Tara Scarlett, Scarlett Family Foundation
  • Victor Evans, Tennessee CAN
  • Bradley Jackson, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce
  • Maya Bugg, Tennessee Charter School Center
  • Adam Lister, Tennesseans for Student Success
  • Taylor Hall, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education
  • David Mansouri, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education
  • Gaugh family
  • Lopez family

43 Responses to Who was at the closed-door DeVos meeting?

  • Misty Pardner says:

    Victor Owen, TNCAN lobbyist for vouchers. Sitting behind William Lamberth.

    • Lenny says:

      It’s weird seeing so many free-market conservative Republicans fighting so hard for a government bailout of failing private schools and a government handout of debit cards to people just above the poverty line.

  • TR says:

    The bald guy next to Barfield is Glen Gaugh. He’s a nut job from Madison County who hates public schools and wants to get his hands on state tax dollars to subsidize a private school at his Pentecostal church. Beacon Center likes to tout him as a parent who’d benefit from ESAs. He’s big buddies with Andy Holt.

  • B Miller says:

    I wonder if the coming planned economy was discussed. When the matching of students to jobs and training them for those jobs replaces a well rounded education that spells a planned economy. Some states are now and have been for some time forcing middle school age children to pick a career ( career can mean dish washer). We will see where it all goes. Hopefully Trump will turn this situation around but I doubt it.

    • MarLE says:

      I don’t know if it means a “planned economy” so much as it means, in the age of uber-welfare, an attempt to ensure that they can take care of their own wants and needs without relying on confiscated tax dollars.

      Having students who clearly don’t want an education being forced to read Shakespeare (and read it with no comprehension) seems to be producing a lot of folks on food stamps, medicaid, etc. How much lower than 85% Below grade level in Math and Reading sounds about right to you?

      • Deborah says:

        You assume that how a person performs and thinks in Middle school predicts the trajectory of their lives and aptitude . So wrong !!!

      • Lenny says:

        $7,300 debit cards per child for people living in the largest cities in the state is welfare.

        • MarLE says:

          But if the government monopoly school gets the $7,300, Lenny, per child then it isn’t welfare? The $7,300 represents dollars per child that are going to be spent On That Child for his education. The only question is whether it can be spent somewhere other than the government monopoly school.

          If you want to call it welfare then it is welfare regardless of which type of school gets it.

          • Lenny says:

            You’re right. Redistributing welfare from one entity to others is still welfare. It’s a government bailout of virtual homeschools and a government handout on a debit card.

          • MarLE says:

            It’s welfare (since that is what you want to call it) when the government school gets it. Not just when the private or home school gets the money.

          • Lenny says:

            It doesn’t balance. It’s a big government spending increase. The public schools get $25,000,000 a year in addition to the offset of funds.

          • MarLE says:

            $7300 does not represent the total cost. Some of the Total stays with the public school.

          • Lenny says:

            I never said it’s the total cost. The ESA is $125,000,000 over 3 years. In addition, the affected government schools get an additional $25,000,000 per year. $7,300 is the amount put on a debit card per individual student (including illegals).

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    Were there any actual teachers in attendance? Why was a businesswhiner union representative there? (Chamber of Commerce)

    • Phil Lassiter says:

      Chamber gives big bucks to admin. The are quite liberal by default, but will do whatever the leadership wants

  • B Miller says:

    Reading below grade level fits right in with businesses that need people with little in the way of education. Can’t read! We have a spot right back here in the kitchen washing dishes. No disrespect to those who work in the restaurant business as I did as a young person but I could read which lead me to a job that paid much better. “Planned” means, especially when you can’t read, the job is not really your Choice but geared to what the economy needs. Another issue is the millions spent on one reading program after another keeps those who come up with all those programs racking in the millions. If that program is designated “ evidence based “ that company is really in the loop. Check out the federal department of educations evidenced based programs. What a money maker for those in the loop. I have been watching those at the state departments of education, year after year, complain children can’t read. The solution has always been another new reading program! A vicious cycle. Stick to what the private schools do to teach reading. There will always be a curve in reading. You can’t realistically Expect every child in the class to read at the same level but using phonics, which I did with my own children, will keep them from being totally illiterate. This would save the schools a lot of money using the same time tested materials year to year. But there would be a lot of unhappy businesses losing all that money on their newest “ evidence based” program!

    • MarLE says:

      so your takeaway from this is that TN is going to use 13 years of education to Train diswashers…starting in middle school. After thoughtful consideration of the information in front of you~ that is what you think is about to happen with ESA and vocational training? Really?

  • Betty Ziesel says:

    YES, B. Miller, agree in total. Fits right in with the “dumb down the kids” strategies of big government worshippers … radicals, democrats, communists, Marxists, who dedicate their lives to spending more money to “help” the underprivileged, when it’s actually to build the welfare rolls, all the while putting money in the pockets of those in power. This is right out of the strategies of Cloward/Piven and Alinsky. What happened to the three R’s … big government … that’s what. Get back to basic … works every time!!!

    • william Atwood says:

      People Years ago only went to grade 8 and were better Educated.

      • Darryl Wilson says:

        You mean white people? Depending upon what decade people of color or women were denied quality education.

        • Lenny says:

          Here we go with the race card. These voucher debit cards will help undocumented students from Latin America more than white people.

          • MarLE says:

            Undocumented are eligible?

          • Lenny says:

            The Federation for American Immigration Reform is opposed to this bill for that reason. I guess the Supreme Court could overturn decades of precedent after the state gets sued by the ACLU, but why take the risk?

        • MarLE says:

          Does the BILL provide for undocumented to get the ESA? The courts have ruled that each state must provide for public funded education of all children, including undoc. Nothing about that will change. Undocs will still attend the public schools.

          Not every benefit is open to illegals. Food stamps, medicaid, etc are Not available to Undocs. And the Escape Mechanism (called an ESA) can also be closed to undocs. It is unavailable to those who are “too rich”.

          • Lenny says:

            As you said, the “state must provide for public funded education for all children, including undoc.” ESA’s are public funds for education. Taxes come from the public whether they’re used for government schools or virtual home schools.

    • MarLE says:

      Public funds for education IS and will Continue to be provided to undocs. That is what the courts decided must happen. ESA’s are not about providing mandatory education. They are about escape. Rich folks children will not be eligible but the Free Mandated education provided by public schools will be available to them; same thing for the undoc children.

  • David Collins says:

    The only big government worshipers I see in Tennessee are the people making up the republican caucuses of the General Assembly. They have demonstrated that they could care less what the local people want and see themselves as the “Big Brother”, there to guide the ignorant masses and tell them what they can and cannot do. Don’t get ,me wrong. Both party’s do it. When the democrats controlled the legislature, they let Big Tobacco convince them that it was somehow in the State’s best interest to forbid local governments from declaring restaurants to be smoke free. It doesn’t matter whether the issue is smoking regulations or local police oversight boards, state government should confine itself to issues that truly require state attention and keep their power-hungry noses out of local issues. If the locals want their advice–they’ll ask for it.

  • Is there anyone person in attendance there that really cares about our school children

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Impossible to know since only leftists have the measuring stick that allows them to know who cares, loves, hates, etc.

      • Suzanne says:

        There’s a jerk in every group. You won the award for this one. Try to stay focused.

      • Lenny says:

        Liberals just can’t admit that this Republican bill will actually help illegal aliens from Latin America the most. I don’t see them trying to give $7300 debit cards to illegals.

    • Phil Lassiter says:

      A lot of one trick ponies in there for just this issue. Will be interesting what they take up next

  • When will you ever care about our tennesse school students?

  • Donna Locke says:

    Well, I am at this moment looking at someone who actually knows how to make a public school a very happy School of Excellence, but of course he was not invited to be there.

    It’s been a long way to nowhere, and some of the drivers of the bus were sitting in that room.

  • Beth Sebastian says:

    Where was president of TEA? DO YOU NOT have any teachers! How can you make decisions without them?
    You need to be in classrooms to see what goes on, before you make decisions, I am retired from teaching 31 years. I invited many politicians to come and observe in my classroom! NONE would walk in my door!
    You really can leave your office in Nashville and visit schools in all parts of Tennessee! Are you afraid to realize you may not know what they are doing? Bet you won’t! I will remember when voting comes around.

    • MarLE says:

      Getting access to classrooms in TN is like trying to break into Fort Knox. What they need to do is put cameras in the classrooms so the people who pay the bills can actually see what is going on day in and day out…..not just when a “visitor” is present.

  • James White says:

    Centralized Indoctrination at the Lowest Common Denominator.

  • M Boles says:

    What happened to our Sunshine Laws!? Should not be having closed meetings but especially with just one group!!,

  • Mary Ann Cole says:

    The lack of teachers at this meeting speaks volumes about the lack of respect for our profession and our perspectives.

    • MarLE says:

      Everyone knows the position of those who would be representing teachers; the rationale for public schools, regardless of results, keeping 100% control is why the government schools have maintained a monopoly on the dollars spent on Education. This meeting was not intended to re-hash reasons to keep the status quo. Those arguments are well known by all the people in that room.

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  • James White says:

    I remember DeVos, who falsely claimed Common Core was “dead”, recently signed the G20 education declaration vowing to keep globalizing “education”.

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