Governor: Voucher program ‘should work all across the state’

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:02pm

As Gov. Bill Haslam weighs whether to pitch his own school voucher program or let lawmakers take the lead by offering proposals of their own, he said any program that becomes law should be usable statewide.

“I’m not ready at this point in time to say exactly what we’ll propose,” he told reporters after speaking in Franklin to the Tennessee Farm Bureau.

“But there have been some folks who said, ‘Let’s just try it in Shelby or try it in Davidson,’ and I kind of feel like if we’re going to try a certain income level and require a certain thing of schools, it should work all across the state,” he said.

The governor later clarified to The City Paper that he and his administration have not yet decided whether to propose their own voucher program. The alternative is the governor could weigh in on proposals legislators suggest when they convene next year.

School vouchers offer certain students “opportunity scholarships” to attend a private, parochial or alternate public school of their parents’ choice. Voucher programs are controversial as they would allow tax dollars to fund those students’ education at private and religious schools, and, critics say,  take money and students with involved parents out of the local school district. The plus side, proponents say, is vouchers give options to parents who can’t afford to move into school zones with better performing schools.

A new report laid out by the governor’s Opportunity Scholarship Task Force recommended that any plan for Tennessee should offer vouchers to students from low-income families.

The details of any program would need the approval of the legislature and the governor. Vouchers are generally favored among Republicans, who hold the governor’s office and supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Haslam said the key issues he wants to “wrestle out” before moving forward are whether to restrict the program to only low income students, determine which schools can accept vouchers, decide how to hold participating schools accountable, figure out how much money follows the student out of the district and settle on what school year lawmakers would implement a voucher program.

4 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 12/4/12 at 12:47

" critics say, take money and students with involved parents out of the local school district"

there it is, the problem is vouchers may free some hostages the education mafia depends on to show that they do not screw up everything. Without the hostages Metro and Memphis schools will only have the "diversity" they are really proud of.

Does Nashville really want to get in a "Race To The Top" with diversity as its only strength?

Interesting article in the USAToday yesterday:

Apparently cities have discovered that investing in eye candy for the hipster class instead of in actual school and real citizen infrastructure does not actually work. Cities have to keep "investing" to keep the hipsters and never get around to fixing the items that actually would make a difference.

Who is to say that vouchers will not keep the vaunted hipster class in the city? Not having vouchers is currently no stopping them from leaving as soon as breeding becomes more important than drinking fair-trade coffee and the anticipation of performances by Jack White or Eddie Vedder.

By: pswindle on 12/4/12 at 4:43

Of course, Haslam will let Ramsey and Beth do the work on vouchers. If this is passed, in three years every school in TN will fail and be at the bottom of the heap. I noticed that one statement that Haslam said, "If the private or other scholls will accept them." I thought that that was interesting that the schools have a choice of accepting or not. Most private and other schools will not take directions fsrom MNPS. Dream on Register.

By: RustyACE on 12/6/12 at 10:38

Dear Andrea,

Schools are funded by Property Taxes from land owners in the entire state of TN.

Some districts collect more property taxes than others.

The vouchers would be equal to half of what that county spends per student. The parent could then take this voucher and spend it at the school of their choice.

It has to be State Wide, and include every single county.

The way Liberals Destroy a good program is the make it "Fair"; Only this group of (insert color), or this group of (insert income), or this group of (insert has a 3rd eye), or this group of (etc.) qualifies for this program.

Then they say that only (A or B, but no C schools qualifies for the voucher.)

Vouchers should be like CASH. You take it to the school of your choice, and it goes towards the cost of educating that child.

The WHOLE purpose of collecting taxes to educate children and to make sure that that child gets an education. Not so that we can fund public schools.

If the public school is the best option for the parent, then guess what, that's where that child will attend school.

So, this will allow parents to show the public school system EXACTLY which schools aren't performing and which are.

If you see a sudden drop in attendance from this public school, and a sudden increase in attendance at other public schools, it will make it VERY easy to spot and fix these under performing schools instead of just continuing to make parents send their kids to these schools.

When you call it a "Scholarship" it makes it sound like the Government is just handing out free money.

This is not the case, you are allowing parents the choice of where to spend the money already allocated and being spent but redirecting to the school of the parents choice.

As clearly outlined in your earlier reports, 50% of the money stays with the school that the child would have attended, and 50% goes with the parent to the school of their choice in the form of a Voucher.

At the end of the day, for every student that leaves a school, that school, still gets half of the funding to teach fewer students. This is a Win/Win/Win for the Schools, Parents and Students.

At the end of the day, AN EDUCATED CHILD, is the most important goal.

Madison, TN

By: jsabrown on 12/6/12 at 11:50

No, Rusty, at the end of the day the most important goal is that all children have the opportunity to receive a good education, not just any single child. The distinction is important, and vouchers don't address that.

We're creating a whole new separate-but-equal.