Tenn. legislature sends governor pared-down college voucher enlargement invoice — science weblog

Tennessee lawmakers agreed Friday to develop the state’s non-public college voucher program to Hamilton County — however to not Knox County — as they ready to wrap up their legislative session for the 12 months.

The Home had authorised a invoice on Wednesday so as to add each counties to this system now working in Shelby County and Metro Nashville to let eligible households use taxpayer cash towards non-public college tuition.

However the Senate, which voted in February to increase vouchers to Chattanooga-based Hamilton County, rejected the wider Home enlargement invoice on Thursday with out rationalization. 

On Friday, the Home voted 57-27 to concur with the Senate model and ship the measure to Gov. Invoice Lee for his signature.

The ultimate invoice, whereas pared down, marks the primary main enlargement of the non-public college voucher program, which launched final fall below a 2019 legislation that cleared a collection of authorized hurdles final 12 months however nonetheless faces challenges in courtroom.

With 44,000 college students, Hamilton County Faculties is among the state’s largest districts.

Lee pressed for the legislation to offer mother and father extra training decisions for his or her youngsters. However detractors say that non-public college vouchers don’t enhance pupil outcomes and divert scarce sources from public colleges that serve most college students who’re deprived or have particular wants.

Tennessee’s legislation caps enrollment at 5,000 college students in this system’s first 12 months. This system has vital room to develop, based mostly on the most recent numbers from the state training division.

As of April 14, the state had authorised 705 candidates to make use of vouchers this college 12 months to exit Memphis-Shelby County Faculties and Metro Nashville Public Faculties. Of that quantity, 453 candidates had submitted proof that they’ve enrolled in state-approved non-public college and are utilizing their voucher of practically $8,200 towards tuition.

Whereas there was no dialogue on the Senate ground about causes fo rejecting the Home’s proposed enlargement to Knox County, not one of the three Republican members who characterize that space — Sens. Richard Briggs and Becky Massey and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally — supported it.

“I feel now we have an excellent college system in Knox County and that oldsters have already got a number of decisions,” Briggs instructed Chalkbeat final month.

He famous that college students in his district have the choice to attend magnet colleges, a constitution college, specialised studying academies, and worldwide baccalaureate applications, and to switch among the many district’s 90 colleges, so long as there’s area accessible.

“The final time we voted on (college vouchers) within the legislature, nearly all of our Knox County delegation voted towards it,” Briggs added. “And there’s positively not help for them amongst our residents.”

Marta Aldrich is a senior correspondent and covers the statehouse for Chalkbeat Tennessee. Contact her at maldrich@chalkbeat.org.

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