Here’s a look at income limits for Lee’s school voucher proposal

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to provide vouchers to cover private school tuition through education savings accounts, or ESAs, would limit eligibility to families earning double the maximum family income to qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. That school lunch program is pegged to 185% of federal poverty guidelines.

Eligibility for the ESA program would be limited to families living within counties with at least three schools in the bottom 10% — but actual attendance in a failing school would not be required to qualify.

A household is defined as the total number of parents and children in the family. Here’s a look at what those limits would be under the proposal headed for its first House subcommittee hearing this week:

Household size Federal poverty guidelines Reduced Price Meals—185% Tennessee ESA proposal
2  $     16,460  $     30,451  $     60,902
3  $     20,780  $     38,443  $     76,886
4  $     25,100  $     46,435  $     92,870
5  $     29,420  $     54,427  $   108,854
6  $     33,740  $     62,419  $   124,838
7  $     38,060  $     70,411  $   140,822
8  $     42,380  $     78,403  $   156,806

14 Responses to Here’s a look at income limits for Lee’s school voucher proposal

  • James White says:

    Can we use vouchers to pay for Home School?
    Until they get the Federal Government out of Education in Tennessee, the education can not be fixed.

  • Linda Caldwell says:

    I’m confused. Does this mean that a family of four earning $92,800 /year is eligible for $7,500 for each child? Assuming a family of four includes two children, am I to assume a family earning $92,800 AND not attending a failing school (simply residing in a district with failing schools) can receive $15,000 to send their children to a private school or be home schooled? I also understand this family can use the taxpayer funds to buy “supplies” if they home school. Is that correct?

    • Erik Schelzig says:

      $7,300 per child. The five affected counties are Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, and Madison. Approved expenses other than tuition include textbooks, tutoring, computers, uniforms, and extracurricular activities fees at public schools.

      • MarLE says:

        Cover a homeschooling option? Or is that not on the approved list? And what you don’t use on k-12 you can apply to college costs in the future?

      • James White says:

        So,,, 7,300 per child, 3 or 4 families get together for about 10 kids, hire a personal tutor (teacher) at 73,000 and the parents have total control.
        Sweet

  • MarLE says:

    Family of One (working) Parent/one (non-working) child eligibility = 60K Add a Working second Parent and the figure is $76K

    Again Republicans fashion a formula that discourages marriage.

    The geniuses in Washington do this in the Tax Code with Single Head of Household tax advantages and in Medicare premium Disadvantages for filing status. Too much Washington-think creeping into the Governor’s mansion.

  • Eddie White says:

    Looks like Bill Lee is using that Auburn education.

  • Michael Lottman says:

    This unworkable diversion of public funds out of the public school system is an expensive way for the state to shirk its responsibility to provide all children with an adequate education and preparation for adult life. It hasn’t worked anywhere else and it won’t work here, and as the above chart shows, the money will inevitably go to people who don’t really need it (and have no idea what to do with it). Even the legislature (until now) has had enough sense to stay out of this trip, but now our new governor, acting on a whim, is preparing to cause damage he cannot possibly imagine.

    • MarLE says:

      There is no diversion of money per pupil. In fact, it will go up under this formula. You need to google “Achievement School District Tennessee” to see WHY those who want to learn should have a means of escape. More money has flowed into these 32 schools where the best among them have a 15% reading on grade level for both math and English.

      Money is not the problem with under-performing schools and neither is the teacher quality unless YOU want to make a statement about who the poor teachers are and why they were hired in the first place. The problem is not the state shirking its responsibility; it is about parental lack of responsibility.

  • Donna Locke says:

    The Herrons’ op-ed in The Tennessean explained everything wrong with these stupid ESA ideas and how these ideas have not worked out elsewhere.

    • MarLE says:

      So Donna do you think some more money given to these 32 Achievement School District schools will turn around the fact that in every one of them 85% of students are functioning in math and English below grade level (and in many that figure is 95%+ below)? We’ve been pouring resources into each of these schools for 8 years now. No one gets any “escape funding” unless there are at least 3 identified schools within their district AND the parent’s combined income meets the threshold.. Again, though, a reward for those who stay single instead of getting married.

      • Donna Locke says:

        MarLE, throwing more money at these public schools will not change anything now. The key to change is demographic, household-income balance in each school. I don’t know how we change that now with the proliferation of private schools and with the overwhelming of the public schools with kids from other countries who are in low-income families who don’t speak English. All of this imbalance upset the apple cart, beginning in the Seventies.

        Some would say busing is the solution now. I oppose that on principle, since I support the idea of neighborhood schools, but it helps some kids. No easy answers now, but a start would be closing the spigot.

        The public school system was so essential to our national cohesion.

        • MarLE says:

          I went to Catholic school for 12 years and think I got an education more conducive to “our national cohesion” that is offered to day in Any Public school. People wanted Obama to call radical Islam by name; they want Trump to call out White Nationalism by name saying you can’t change what you won’t identify.

          We have 32 well identified schools with 90% of students not on grade level. Why not study these schools, focusing on both the teacher and the student population and then identify AND call out what is going on at these schools. Both Dems and Republicans seem to agree that you can’t fix what you don’t name!

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