Tennessee’s efforts to provide school choice have captured President Donald Trump’s attention.
The president on Wednesday tweeted, “The Great State of Tennessee is so close to passing School Choice. All of our Nation’s children, regardless of background, deserve a shot at achieving the American Dream! Time to get this done, so important!”
The Great State of Tennessee is so close to passing School Choice. All of our Nation’s children, regardless of background, deserve a shot at achieving the American Dream! Time to get this done, so important!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2019
The Tennessee Star reported on Tuesday’s dramatic vote by the State House to approve Gov. Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) bill. Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) changed his vote from No to Aye to break the tie after Knox County Schools were exempted from the ESA program.
Zachary tweeted, “Update on my ESA vote….
Knox County is out, held fiscally harmless and our teachers get their raises!”
Update on my ESA vote….
Knox County is out, held fiscally harmless and our teachers get their raises! pic.twitter.com/K583kzdE5u
— Rep. Jason Zachary (@JasonZacharyTN) April 23, 2019
The ESA bill is expected to get a Senate floor vote today, Forbes reported. If it is approved, a conference committee will work out the differences between the House and Senate versions to set up a final vote in both chambers to send the bill to the governor.
Up to 15,000 students in Davidson, Shelby and Hamilton County would be eligible for the ESAs under the modified House bill, WJHL reported. The Senate bill qualifies only students in Davidson and Shelby counties.
The rest of the state’s 91 counties are not eligible but can qualify for different grants to help improve teacher pay and build new schools.
In February, Trump championed school choice in his State of the Union address to Congress, according to a story by Education Week.
“To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children,” Trump said. “I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave—so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos joined with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and others to promote school choice initiatives that use tax credits to pay for some children to go to private schools, according to a story by WRAL.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and others to “keep fighting” for proposals that she said would allow students more flexibility to find their right educational fit.
– – –