Tennessee Supreme Court Agrees to Hear State’s School Voucher Appeal

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to the state’s appeal on the constitutionality of its education savings account program (ESA). The pilot school voucher program has been tied up in a legal battle for all of 2020 after its passage by the General Assembly in 2019, thereby preventing any planned advancement of the program.

The program was previously ruled unconstitutional by Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Anne Martin. She assessed it would disproportionately impact two counties: Shelby County Schools (SCS) and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Those districts reportedly contain about 90 percent of the state’s failing schools list. The Court of Appeals upheld Martin’s decision last September.

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School Choice Provides Flexible Options That Fit Students’ Unique Needs, Beacon Center Says at Jackson Event

The Beacon Center on Monday hosted a meeting on school choice issues in the upcoming legislative session for 2019. Taylor Dawson, outreach coordinator for the Beacon Center, spoke about the organization’s legislative goals regarding school choice and the ways in which volunteers can help. The meeting was held at Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store in Jackson. Beacon’s Justin Owen, president and CEO, also wrote in the Jackson Sun, “Parents should decide the best educational environment for their child. This National School Choice Week, we should remember how educational choice works to empower parents to customize their child’s education that fits his or her unique needs.” In the op-ed, Owens touts the benefits of Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs), which the General Assembly authorized in 2015 for parents of children with special needs. According to a Beacon special report, summarized here, ESAs “provide families a more flexible option than traditional voucher programs. ESA funds can be used to create a truly customized education experience including tutoring, speech and other education therapy, private school tuition, homeschool curriculum and supplies, education technology, and even help save for college.” Beacon’s two-part series is titled, “Counting Dollars and Cents: The Economic Impact of a Statewide Education Savings…

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