More Families Could Get School Vouchers Under New Tennessee Proposal

"As I've said a hundred times," Haslam told reporters who caught him in the hallway of the state legislature Thursday, "we like the bill we proposed.  We proposed it for a very specific reason.  I did say I think one of our concerns last year was that our bill kept trying to be amended.  So when Senator Kelsey told me he was going to file that, I said hey, that's your right, obviously.  You guys pursue that and see what you can get done.  We like our bill." (Photo: Daniel Potter)

“As I’ve said a hundred times,” Haslam told reporters who caught him in the hallway of the state legislature Thursday, “we like the bill we proposed. We proposed it for a very specific reason. I did say I think one of our concerns last year was that our bill kept trying to be amended. So when Senator Kelsey told me he was going to file that, I said hey, that’s your right, obviously. You guys pursue that and see what you can get done. We like our bill.” (Photo: Daniel Potter)

A school vouchers proposal that was scuttled last year by Republican infighting is showing new signs of life in the state legislature.  Such a bill would essentially divert some public-school money, to help poor kids in failing schools afford private educations instead.

Gov. Bill Haslam has been pushing for a relatively limited “pilot” program, focused on poor families in the bottom 5 percent of schools.  Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) is now trying to include the bottom 10 percent instead.  And he wants to give other students access to vouchers, if poor families in their district don’t claim them all first.

Haslam stopped short of condemning Kelsey’s approach, but said that’s not his preference.

Both Haslam’s measure and the latest proposal from Kelsey would eventually cap the number of families getting vouchers at 20 thousand.

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