Add the Metro Nashville School Board to the list of people who have voted to formally oppose school vouchers.
Seven board members present at this week’s meeting unanimously went along with this. Two board members — Jill Speering and Anna Shepherd — were absent, school system spokeswoman Dawn Rutledge told The Tennessee Star.
None of the nine Metro Nashville School Board members returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment Friday. Rutledge said the school system will not make minutes of the meeting available for another week.
According to the resolution, vouchers are “controversial, unproven and unpopular.” They also “eliminate accountability by channeling taxes to private schools without the same academic or testing requirements.”
“Underfunded public schools are less able to attract and retain teachers,” according to the resolution.
As The Star reported this week, school boards in Madison and Houston counties have passed similar resolutions, as did the Oak Ridge School Board. Wilson County commissioners also passed a resolution, which they will forward to state legislators.
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee stated in the past that he supports vouchers. Lee, however, has used ambiguous language of late on the matter and has issued no firm statement to describe what, precisely, he supports.
As reported, Lee named 36-year-old Penny Schwinn, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, formerly affiliated with Teach for America, as Tennessee’s new Commissioner of Education.
Lee’s announcement of this appointment made no mention of school choice. It was not mentioned either as a priority of his administration, or as an area in which Schwinn has any interest, experience, or focus.
Shortly after he won the primary in August 2018, Lee removed the list of Ten for Ten promises, which included school choice as one of the ten promises, from his campaign website.
However, a few hours after he was sworn into office last month, Lee’s official website posted this statement of priorities in education:
“Empower parents to choose the best educational option for their students.”
How and when this general objective is translated into specific legislation officials can enact into law, however, remains unexplained.
Lee’s failure to set forth a specific voucher agenda has given opponents at the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents and the Tennessee School Boards Association plenty of time to rally support against them.