School Vouchers: are they right for Tennessee?

If you want to start a vigorous discussion gather a few people together and bring up the idea of school vouchers. Vouchers is a common term devouchers-classroom-bscribing programs in which state/local money that traditionally would have gone to a public school in which a student enrolled can follow the pupil even if he/she chooses to go to a private school.

Several states have implemented school voucher programs. The Tennessee General Assembly is currently considering such a proposal from Governor Bill Haslam.

In this conversation recorded March 30, 2013, Eddie Settles explores some of the issues concerning school vouchers with Darrell Hugueley and Ken Welch.

Listen:

Length: 1 hour, 45 seconds

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Addendum:
The subject of school vouchers is full of important elements. An hour’s discussion hardly does it justice.

That’s where you come in. A Memphis Conversation is just that, one of many. If you’ve listened, you’ve heard part of our conversation (we kept talking for a couple of hours more). Now it’s your turn. Talk about this and other important subjects, in a civil manner of course, with your family, friends, work acquaintances, even others who you may not know but who are concerned about our civic responsibility to inform ourselves. Encourage those who are inclined not to address important subjects to join you in considering these matters.

Among the important aspects of the discussion I do not think we had time to mention are the following:

  • legislative observers believe there is a good chance this year for a school voucher bill to be enacted into law in Tennessee;
  • the Shelby County School Board, currently the 23 members panel that governs both Memphis and Shelby County schools (which become one school district this summer), is on record opposing any legislation or other efforts by the Tennessee General Assembly to implement a program designed to provide students with a taxpayer-funded opportunity scholarship/tuition vouchers to attend a non-public school of their choice;
  • the Tennessee Education Association, as well as the Memphis Education Association which is the union representing Memphis City School teachers, opposes school vouchers;
  • the governor’s proposal caps the number of vouchers for the 2013-2014 school year at 5,000, 7,500 the second year, 10,000 the third year, and 20,000 the fourth year of the program but there are proposals among legislators to amend the bill to increase or remove the limits.

Links:

Read a summary of the voucher bill

Read the voucher bill as filed in the Tennessee Senate

View the Tennessee K-12 & School Choice Survey referenced during the conversation

The Shelby County School Board 2013 Legislative Agenda resolution (see page 7)

— Ken Welch

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One Comment to “School Vouchers: are they right for Tennessee?”

  1. Ken, I enjoyed talking with you and Eddie. One thing that I did not get to add from my notes was the fact that the voucher, whatever the amount turns out to be, does not cover all the expenses of education. It does not cover transportation, supplies, breakfast and lunch, uniforms, just to get a short list started. Transportation is included in a child’s local school expense, and so is breakfast and lunch if that school is a Title I school (and all Memphis City Schools are now Title I except for Richland Elementary). That cost will shift to the family once the voucher is spent.

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