Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is pushing to launch his school voucher program a year early, in the 2020-2021 school year, education blog Chalkbeat said.
The General Assembly had set a deadline of the 2021-2022 school year, the blog said. Lee told the Tennessee Department of Education to work with the Tennessee Board of Education to make the early launch happen for the Education Savings Account (ESA), or vouchers.
Chalkbeat also said the early launch would move up the pace of expected lawsuits by organizations like the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, which is preparing to challenge the law’s constitutionality. The law excludes students whose families enter the country illegally. Other critics say they worry about the potential for fraud.
At least five school systems that have formally opposed vouchers have not done a good job of preparing their students for college, The Tennessee Star reported in May.
The five school systems in Tennessee that have come out to formally oppose school vouchers haven’t exactly done that great of a job preparing students for college.
This, according to statewide statistics members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission reported last week.
As The Tennessee Star reported, representatives from some of these school systems said they have higher academic standards than charter schools.
About 67 percent of Madison County students who went off to college needed remedial math classes. Almost 45 percent of them need remedial reading, according to the figures.
Exactly 62.7 percent of students coming out of Metro Nashville Public Schools, meanwhile, had to take a remedial math course. About 47 percent of those students needed a remedial reading class, according to statistics.
Lee’s ESA plan passed in the Legislature in early May after much wrangling, The Star reported.
After weeks of hearings on the legislation, carried by Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) in the House and Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), navigating the numerous committees and negotiating with the Administration, the two chambers eventually passed two different versions of the legislation last week.
Passage on the House floor, though, was drama filled as a 40-minute pause was taken in order to break a 49 to 49 tie by flipping the vote of Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) by taking Knox County out as one of the participating counties.
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