Lee backs off of keeping voucher applications going after judge’s ruling

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference on Tennessee’s coronavirus response in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is backing down from a pledge to keep encouraging parents to apply for the state’s school voucher program even after a judge declared the law unconstitutional and enjoined the state from implementing the Education Savings Account Act.

Lee told reporters on Tuesday that applications would still be processed while the state sought an appeal. Late Tuesday night, the attorney general’s office submitted a legal filing asking Nashville Chancellor Anne Martin to lift her order to allow the state to keep taking applications. A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.

Lee spokesman Gillum Ferguson issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

While we disagree with the court’s ruling, we respect it and believe we are in full compliance. If there are differences of opinion regarding the specific terms of the court’s order, we expect further clarification, soon. In the meantime, the Department of Education has not and will not be taking any action to process, administer, review applications, or further implement the program until this matter is resolved in the courts.

 

35 Responses to Lee backs off of keeping voucher applications going after judge’s ruling

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    Have a Jacksonian moment, Governor! Tell them “Ms. Martin has made her decision, let her enforce it.”

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    Donna Locke says:

    Folks, when re-election time rolls around for your state rep and senator, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, if you have one these days, and tell or remind your district how your reps voted on the sneaky vouchers.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Liberating Educational Savings Account Donna. Placing decision making and the funds to do so in the hands of the people is always liberating, never “sneaky.”

      • Avatar
        Donna Locke says:

        Oh, is every taxpayer getting her or his money back for this? Where is all the free stuff for the middle class?

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          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Now you’re going back to a bridge that we crossed many years ago. We have universal taxpayer funding for basic education which we have determined should take place from kindergarten to grade twelve. This is done on the theory that everyone benefits from children who are literate, numerate, and civically aware not just the parents of children. Assuming this is true, everyone therefore should benefit from the improvement in the current educational system which has us spending more than almost any other country on education while getting results that puts us well down in the bottom half of industrialized countries.

          There is no “free stuff” for the middle class or anyone else, which is Conservative 101. Only leftists try to create the illusion that there is “free stuff” which is why rational individuals should not be a leftist nor should they let their children grow up to be one either.

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            Donna Locke says:

            I see nothing liberating for the average taxpayer caught in this voucher scheme.

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            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Perhaps not for the average taxpayer though if the substitution of a free market vs. a monopolistic one works in education the way it works in most other market places it will result in the more efficient use of their tax money for education. The “liberating” effect will be realized by parents of children who are no longer forced for economic reasons to send their children to schools for which they are zoned but that are not best for them given the range of choices that are available.

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            James White says:

            The government education model has failed. We are producing functional illiterates. Let the people have their money back and educate their child as they see fit.

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          MARLE says:

          Stuart…everything you wrote makes perfect sense which stands in stark contrast to the comments you were responding to. Congrats on a fine effort even though it will fall on deaf ears.

        • Avatar
          Donna Locke says:

          This is where liberals and faux conservatives meet in the middle: the math doesn’t work on their notions and agendas. The math doesn’t work on vouchers-for-all the same way it doesn’t work on Medicaid/Medicare-for-all. And the idea is indeed eventual “free” insert-your-pet-agenda-here for all while starting with the “low-income” appeal to palatability. Even if the math worked, you would end up having to regulate private schools to ensure equality, protection of civil rights, and affordability, and then you’re back to where you started with government involvement.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Yes, if suddenly we began to elect liberals to office in this state at a much higher rate than we have done so in recent decades then the control freaks would take over and mess the free enterprise system up in education the way they do in other markets when they have power. I assume, however, that if the Government Schools Trust is ever subdued and a free enterprise market place in education would become a reality it would not take place while liberals are in power so your fear while theoretically possible is not practically probable.

            The free market would do the regulation insofar as parents will choose the highest quality school that they can get for the lowest price. Government would simply set minimum academic standards that every school would have to meet then stand aside while the free market worked its magic.

  • Avatar
    Phil Lassiter says:

    This is the most inept governor in modern memory. He is surrounded by democrats and neophytes. Once again, spending all your time on an issue that is the most contentious and least likely to make any difference and most likely to attract a federal judge. Just imagine what their gov could have behind him if he invigorated rural hospitals last year as they were closing. What if he would he really improved career and technical education in high schools. What if, what if…… he needs to be one term worse than sundquist and Blanton. Really ignorant. Selective enforcement of Christian values (see gambling, etc). Oh, Hello, Mark Gill. Thanks for your community organizing of a blatantly unconstitutional issue. You too, Bill Dunn and Company (coke heads and public restroom minutemen).

    • Avatar
      Cannoneer2 says:

      Same can be said for the abortion issue.

    • Avatar
      Donna Locke says:

      The keyword for our government operations at every level is “selective.” Somehow it is always the same entities who are selected. The rest of us are just selected to have our money confiscated, our personal freedoms denied and deleted, and a mess of consequences left to our children.

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    Karen Bracken says:

    Voucher are the funding scheme they need to bring private and religious schools into the same system and of inferior standards, testing and the data pipeline. Lee has no business in politics. When it comes to education he has no clue. He like many leftists think our children are human capital to be trained to meet their workforce needs and that is NOT what education is about. Charters are no choice either because they are required to teach the same standards as the traditional public school so where is the choice in that. The other down side of charters is they have no elected school boards. So as more charters are created the less representation tax payers have. Charters and vouchers both are nothing but a false sense of choice when in the end you will have choice of location but no choice in what your children are taught. They must have all kids in the system. There can be no outliers and these schemes are how they will do it. Vouchers and Charters do not deliver as promised and the research clearly demonstrates that. The reason they don’t deliver as promised is because the promises were based on lies and deceit.

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    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    One step at a time Karen. Like the Standard Oil Trust, the Sugar Trust at the turn of the twentieth century the Government School Trust is a very politically powerful entity which exercises its power to exclude competitors and thus has a detrimental effect on efficiency and innovation. The reason that there is such intense opposition by the Gov’t School Trust to any modification in the current educational system is that they know the end game is a liberation of parents of school age children to choose the best school for their child from among any school that will meet the minimum standards of furnishing education in literacy, numeracy, and civics. Rest assured Karen this is just the first step on a long road that will lead to reform that you so ardently want.

  • Avatar
    Beatrice Shaw says:

    Public education is a cherished right in the country and should not be torn apart by corporations and lobbyists

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      No Beatrice, it’s government FINANCED education that is a right, not government FURNISHED education.

      • Avatar
        James White says:

        Both wrong, i public/government furnished/financed education is NOT a Right.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Not under the Tennessee constitution? Isn’t that what all of those law suits about equal funding of education as between wealthy districts and poorer districts was/is all about?

        • Avatar
          MARLE says:

          When is a right ever enforced by compulsory requirement?

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Under equal protection under the law the courts will compel the state government to, for example, spend more in poor areas with low property values than it spends in rich areas to equalize spending on education per pupil when local property taxes are the basis for funding education.

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            MARLE says:

            We have a Right to a free education. We also have a Compulsory requirement to exercise that “right”. I asked what other individual right do we have to mandate? The right to vote? The right to assemble? The right to free speech? The right bear arms? Most rights do not have a compulsory component to their exercise.

          • Avatar
            James White says:

            Rights are from God, I suspect that public education is from the Government.

        • Avatar
          MARLE says:

          I didn’t say it was a right. Add to that the fact that rights which derive from God are NOT made compulsory. Did you not get that point in my comment, James?

          • Avatar
            James White says:

            You said we have a right to free education.
            What does that mean? Books, brick and mortar, teachers?
            I know you don’t believe that do you ?

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            I was responding to Stuart’s assertion that we have a RIGHT. He said ……..”No Beatrice, it’s government FINANCED education that is a right, not government FURNISHED education.”

            So I asked him what other RIGHT was accompanied by a compulsory requirement to exercise that right. ( kind of thought my asking that question would indicate that I don’t think there is a specific Constitutionally provided RIGHT to education).

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            I really wish that someone with a JD from a Tennessee law school or a Tennessee attorney with a familiarity with the Tennessee constitution would tell us if I am correct in my opinion that the Tennessee constitution places an obligation on the state government to afford every child in Tennessee an education at public expense.

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            James White says:

            No doubt the TN does do that Stuart, but giving the parents the money to educate their child would fulfill the requirement.

  • Avatar
    Eddie White says:

    Education is not a right, it is a privilege. We are privileged in this country , as opposed to some third world countries, to have a public education afforded to us. Otherwise, we would be living in a very illiterate society. Public education is far from perfect(I actually sub from time to time), but I am glad our forefathers realized that everyone deserved to have the opportunity for an education.

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      Believe it or not, America was more literate before public education.

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        While I was in SC test scores came out demonstrating that a significant cohort of children were not reading at grade level at the end of first grade. This was in spite of a bachelors’ degree (or more likely a Masters or higher) qualified teacher and more money for teachers salary and per-pupil spending.

        Curious about how our “education” model was comparing with the Amish community schools I talked with the Headmaster to inquire about their children’s performance (they allowed state testing). He told me that despite having NO teachers with Education degrees (or any 4-year degree) or Certification OR significant salaries ALL of the children were reading on grade level and he added “they can read by the end of first grade in English and also in Deutsch.

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