Add Wilson County to the list of places whose local governments have written a formal resolution opposing school vouchers.
Although, in this case, county commissioners may not have done so out of any strong conviction. They were merely passing along a message from the local school system to state legislators.
According to the minutes of the Jan. 28 Wilson County Commission meeting, 21 commissioners voted in favor of the resolution. Two commissioners voted no. One commissioner abstained. Yet another commissioner was absent.
Commissioner Robert Fields told The Tennessee Star Thursday that he and his colleagues acted because the county’s Board of Education requested it.
“We voted to support the BOE’s resolution that they opposed any legislation that would support school vouchers,” Fields said.
Fields voted in favor of the resolution, according to the minutes.
The Star asked Fields if he and most county commissioners personally oppose school vouchers.
“No, I think it (the vote) was more in support of our school’s board of education,” Fields said.
A Board of Education representative spoke to commissioners that night. That person came without any statistics or empirical evidence and otherwise did not attest why school vouchers are bad, Fields said.
Fields said he had no comment when asked what he would say to any possible constituents of his who may favor school vouchers.
But he did say some commissioners didn’t see much point in voting for the resolution.
“I thought it was a dead issue, period, because there has been no legislation even presented at the state legislature,” Fields said.
“We tried to amend the resolution to defer it, pending any state legislation, because there was a group of us commissioners who have voiced an opinion as to ‘Why would we vote on something that may or may not happen?’”
The attempt to defer the resolution failed, Fields said.
As The Star reported this month, members of the Oak Ridge Board of Education say they are drafting a formal resolution opposing school vouchers, and they plan to forward it to state legislators.
According to the most recent draft of the Oak Ridge resolution, board members complain that, under school choice, private schools have standards to enroll or remove any students they wish.
Board members also complain “voucher programs divert critical dollars and commitment from public schools to pay private school tuition for a few students, including many who already attend private schools.”
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee reportedly favors school vouchers.
As The Tennessee Star also reported, Houston County commissioners formally oppose school vouchers.
They do so at the behest of Houston County Director of Schools Kris McAskill, who warned vouchers would take money away from the public school system.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Wilson County Courthouse” by Ichabod. CC BY-SA 3.0.