School voucher bill dies in House Budget Sub

This year’s leading school voucher bill, declared a “pilot project” that would apply only in Shelby County, died quietly in the House Budget Subcommittee Wednesday.

Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, sponsor of HB126, officially put off further consideration until next year in the Budget Subcommittee. Voucher bills have failed repeatedly in the past six years and proponents had hoped that narrowing this year’s version to just Shelby County would change the tradition.

 

From Chalkbeat Tennessee’s report:

Brooks pledged to pick up the measure next year where he left it — in the House Finance subcommittee.

“We’re satisfied that we’ve moved it this far,” the Knoxville Republican said later. “We were able to accomplish more than we thought that we could (in the first year of the two-year session).”

Brooks said he’ll work in the coming months to nail down consensus specifically around high school testing, since private high schools often offer different courses than their public counterparts.

Two versions of amendments emerged this year to Brooks’ bill with Sen. Brian Kelsey — one that mandated all students take Tennessee’s state tests, and one that allowed private school students accepting vouchers to take other tests, so long as they are approved by the State Board of Education.

“I’ve had a request from folks on different sides of the issue to say we need to look at that,” Brooks said.

…As word spread of a voucher pause, both advocates and opponents took the long view.

“I don’t want anybody to think the fight is over just because it’s been rolled until 2018,” said Stephanie Love, a board member with Shelby County Schools.

Love, who led busloads of Memphians to Nashville to voice opposition, said she’s already gearing up for next year’s debate — as was voucher supporter Mendell Grinter, director of the Memphis-based Campaign for School Equity.

…Roy Herron, a former state senator who lobbies for Tennessee’s small school systems, was elated but stopped short of saying that vouchers are dead for another year.

“It’s a good day for public schools,” he said. “(But) there’s an enormous amount of money and highly capable lobbyists working very hard to pass this legislation. I have great respect for their ability and great concern about the amount of resources they bring on this issue.”

4 Responses to School voucher bill dies in House Budget Sub

  • Diana Page says:

    TN should do as TX, and pass a bill forbidding tax payer money to private schools.

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Great thinking Diana! Lets keep those middle class kids trapped in the mediocrity of government schools. Wouldn’t want to do anything to encourage competition in education and discomfort all those education bureaucrats.

  • Nancy Fischman says:

    Studies have shown that private and charter schools don’t do any better at education than public schools do. Why don’t we put public money into improving our public schools and let the for-profit schools fend for themselves. I don’t want my tax money going into the pockets of individuals who see a profit-making opportunity in schooling our children.

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