Gaining Support for the School Voucher Compromise
Last year the school voucher bill was used as a political football between Governor Bill Haslam and legislators. The bill made it through most of the committee process only to be taken off notice by the administration when an “unfriendly” amendment was added. Governor Haslam is again promoting the voucher bill, but only for the bottom 5% of failing schools and low-income students.
Three influential state senators have put together a new plan to create Tennessee’s first school voucher program, but Gov. Bill Haslam says he intends to hold firm to his proposal to limit vouchers to needy students in the state’s worst schools. Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican and a longtime proponent of vouchers, filed a measure Thursday that would offer vouchers to the families of poor and working-class students in Shelby, Davidson and eight other counties. Supporters, who include Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, tout the proposal as a compromise measure meant to break the impasse that sank voucher legislation in the Senate last year. Read More Here.
The Senate compromise goes a bit further by offering vouchers to the bottom 10% of failing school districts while keeping the same 5,000 voucher cap for the first year. Low-income students attending the failing schools will get first dibs at the vouchers, while the second round of any unused vouchers would be available to students with a failing school in their county.
Tennessee continues to lag behind the rest of the nation in education. Every student should have access to the best education possible. Egos should be put aside and the best interest of our students should be the driving factor. Reform-minded legislators should be lauded for their efforts to continually improve the state of education in Tennessee.