Governor Bill Haslam says Tennessee isn’t ready for a school voucher program. That could use public money for poor students switching to private schools. Haslam says the state has already made several big changes in education, and should wait to do more.
Some lawmakers had hoped to tackle school vouchers in the session starting next month. But last week Haslam said a task force would study the idea and make recommendations next fall, after lawmakers have left for the year. So legislation may be on hold for the time being.
Haslam explains he didn’t want to rush, because educators had asked to slow down, pointing to a host of changes already underway.
“Whether it be change in tenure, new evaluations, Race to the Top, different standards, a lot of people are saying ‘Give us a chance to catch our breath here.’ Which I thought, given everything that’s going on, was a fair request of them.”
A voucher bill passed the state Senate last session but stalled in the House. Haslam says there were also questions about that specific bill, and what it would mean for students who still couldn’t afford private school, even with a voucher.