Latest School Voucher Proposal Would Include Some Rural Counties

A voucher proposal first made it through the state Senate a few years ago before the governor called a task force to examine the matter in 2012.  Legislative wrangling scuttled a proposal last year. (Credit MyTudat/flickr)

A voucher proposal first made it through the state Senate a few years ago before the governor called a task force to examine the matter in 2012. Legislative wrangling scuttled a proposal last year. (Credit MyTudat/flickr)

A school vouchers proposal that moved ahead Wednesday in the state legislature may affect some rural districts in addition to Tennessee’s cities.  A voucher program would help students in failing public schools pay for private tuition instead.

The House version is not as narrow as the governor wanted, or as expansive as a rival Senate proposal.  The bill’s focus is still on the bottom 5 percent of schools, in the state’s major cities.  It’s limited to 5,000 vouchers, but if some are left over, eligibility then opens up to students in a handful of low-scoring schools in more rural districts.  House Speaker Beth Harwell:

“What we’re trying to do is get to those children in chronically low-performing schools, and we want to give them an opportunity for something else.  And that’s what this is all about.”

Harwell cast a pair of pivotal votes in two 7-6 decisions to get the amendment out a sometimes chaotic subcommittee meeting, which repeatedly paused so lawmakers could huddle privately.  Afterward, Harwell noted the measure has a ways to go, and could still change.

Meanwhile on the senate side, a voucher proposal was not taken up Wednesday during a three hour meeting of the Education committee.

 

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