On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – host Steve Gill welcomed Shaka Mitchell from the American Federation for Children to the show to talk about the Gov. Lee’s Education Savings Account legislation that is up for a vote on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives this morning, Tuesday, April 23.
Mitchell told Gill he expected the bill would make it through the Tennessee House in today’s vote.
Gill: One of the other bills that’s coming up today in the legislature as we get this mad rush to conclude this legislature session is the education savings account legislation that’s working it’s way through still through the Senate and the House. Big House vote coming up today and Shaka Mitchell from the American Federation for Children is on with us to give us a little update on what’s going on there. Shaka good to have you with us.
Mitchell: Hey good morning Steve. Thanks for having me.
Gill: This bill is changing hourly maybe momentarily. At lease the Senate version now instead of being in five counties will only be in Davidson County and Memphis/Shelby County. What other changes are kind of taking place that people ought to be aware of in this bill that may give it a better chance at passage?
Mitchell: Yeah. You’re absolutely right that this thing continues to morph. And somebody told me once that the legislative process is a little like watching the sausage get made. That’s absolutely right. So we’re watching the sausage get made. I think that one of the changes that you can expect as you mentioned is the geography. The Senate bill still covers the two most populous cities in the state. And that’s where you’ve got the highest concentration of low performing schools in Memphis and in Nashville. And so that’s the biggest change. There’s some other tweaks as well to what kind of parent eligibility controls are in place. So that’s an important thing. Income verification I think. Parents would have to show income verification every three years now in the Senate version. There’s also a testing component. So there’s a number of components…
Gill: Are home school options in or out at this point because I hear various things?
Mitchell: In the Senate version they are in. They are in. One of the things that a lot folks don’t realize that Tennessee unfortunately in my opinion, already has a heavily regulated home school sector. Which is surprising. Because that’s actually the fastest percentage of parent choice out there. There’s actually more home schoolers’ in Tennessee than there are kids in charters schools. But nevertheless you know it’s pretty regulated in Tennessee but home schools are included in the Senate version which we think is a really positive thing.
Gill: And today the House will take up the bill. Full house? Or where is it in the process right now?
Mitchell: That’s right. It’s on the full House floor this morning. I think it’s the second bill that’s up. We feel, I don’t want to say, hopefully not overly confident but we feel confident about the momentum.
Gill: If we already had the online betting in place that will also come up I think tomorrow in the House. As a betting man Shaka would you say yes or no that it gets out of the House.
Mitchell: I would say yes. (Gill chuckles) I’m not a betting man but I would say yes.
Gill: The over under five votes maybe, I don’t know.
Mitchell: Yeah that’s right. That’s exactly right. I think it moves for sure.
Gill: Shaka from American Federation for Children. Thanks for giving us a quick update and we’ll be watching closely later this morning.
Listen to the full hour here:
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