- The nonprofit Charles Koch Institute will host "Education Opportunities: A Path Forward for Students in Tennessee," a forum it's describing as an "in-depth policy discussion," on July 22 at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, TN.
- A panel talk spotlighted at the event will feature charter school and conservative think tank representatives, including Goldwater Institute Education Director Jonathan Butcher, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice State Programs and Government Relations Director Stephanie Linn, Beacon Center of Tennessee President and CEO Justin Owen, and Capital Preparatory Magnet School Principal Steve Perry.
- Moderating the talk will be Shaka Mitchell, who works for California's Rocketship Education charter school organization, which is set to open a Nashville location this summer followed by another next year.
The Koch brothers have become a polarizing force as they've worked to expand their conservative influence throughout the nation, so this gathering has the potential to be controversial in some circles — though hosting it in a red state may make it less so. The event is part of a series being held in different locations across the U.S. as part of the Kochs' Well-Being Initiative.
The Charles Koch Institute praised the state's move to outcome-based funding for public universities, but says its urban K-12 public schools have some of the worst problems and referenced a school voucher push last year that didn't gain steam. As with Bill Gates and the Common Core, there are questions over whether the privately wealthy Koch brothers should be able to exert so much influence in public policy. And it's not hard to imagine that the panel discourse at next week's event will be a bit one-sided on those policy issues.