Aaron Gulbransen Says Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Universal School Choice Bill Will Be First Order of Business in January

School Work

Aaron Gulbransen, executive director of the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition, said he believes state lawmakers will craft a final bill for Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice proposal before the General Assembly convenes in January.

Lee’s school choice bill, the Education Freedom Scholarship Act, failed to pass the General Assembly during its recent convened session.

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TN-18 State Senate GOP Primary Challenger Chris Spencer Refuses to Answer If He’d Vote for Governor’s School Choice Bill If Elected

Chris Spencer

Chris Spencer, a Republican candidate challenging incumbent Tennessee State Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) in the August 1 TN-18 GOP primary, refused to answer whether he’d vote for or against Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice bill during the next legislative session of the General Assembly if elected.

The governor’s school choice bill, called the Education Freedom Scholarship Act, failed to pass the General Assembly during the most recently convened session of the General Assembly.

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Claiborne Thornton Says Governor Lee Did Not Consult with Homeschoolers While Crafting School Choice Bill

Claiborne Thornton, president of the Tennessee Home Education Association, said Governor Bill Lee did not consult with homeschool families before crafting his universal school choice bill, which is currently undergoing debate in the Tennessee General Assembly.

“The bill, the way it was written, the way it was crafted, was without any consultation from any homeschoolers,” Thornton explained on Tuesday’s edition of The Michael Patrick Leahy Show.

Thornton said particular objections to the bill surround the Tennessee Department of Education’s role in facilitating the program.

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State Senator Mark Pody Discusses ‘Real,’ ‘Genuine’ Concerns Homeschool Families Have with School Choice Voucher Program

Home School

Tennessee State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) addressed two concerns he has heard from families that choose to homeschool their children regarding Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice program, which would give $7,000 education savings account scholarships to 20,000 qualifying students in the first year of its inception.

“[Homeschoolers] have real concerns and they’re genuine,” Pody said on Monday’s edition of The Michael Patrick Leahy Show. “These objections are real because there’s something that is an underlying statement: If government funds it, government runs it. So if you take government money, no matter where you are or what you are, if you don’t think there’s a string attached somewhere, you’re not looking close enough.”

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Michael Patrick Leahy: Phil Williams’ ‘Nothing Burger’ School Choice Story is Built on Secretly Recorded 2016 Strategy Session of Choice Advocates

JC Bowman, founder and president of Professional Educators of Tennessee, and Michael Patrick Leahy, editor-in-chief and CEO of The Tennessee Star, debated an audio recording slated to be released by News Channel 5’s Phil Williams supposedly addressing the “origin of school vouchers” in Tennessee.

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Corey DeAngelis Explains How School Choice Vouchers May Motivate Schools to Respect Parents’ Input as Competition Arises


Corey DeAngelis, a school choice activist and senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, detailed how implementing a universal school choice program in Tennessee could motivate public schools to respect and strive to meet parents’ expectations in order to compete with schools attracting families with vouchers.

On Tuesday, state lawmakers on the K-12 Subcommittee voted 6-2 to pass the House version of Governor Bill Lee’s proposed school voucher program, which would make Education Freedom Scholarships worth $7,000 available to students in every county of the state.

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Corey DeAngelis: Vermont Has Had a Successful School Choice Program Since 1869

School choice activist Corey A. DeAngelis joined Wednesday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss the future of school choice in the U.S., specifically in Democrat-run states.

Leahy kicked off the segment by noting how Vermont has the oldest operating school voucher program in the country’s history with its Town Tuitioning Program.

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Corey DeAngelis Says Tennessee School Choice Bill Would Allow Students to Escape ‘One Size Fits All System’

Classroom Learning

School choice activist Corey A. DeAngelis joined Wednesday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss a rally he, Robby Starbuck, and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held in Nashville supporting Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s universal school choice plan, known as the Education Freedom Scholarship Act.

On Tuesday, DeAngelis, Starbuck, AFP, and other school choice advocates held a Rally for School Choice & Parents’ Rights at the state Capitol in support of the governor’s school choice plan.

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Tennessee State Rep. Susan Lynn Awaits Final Version of Universal School Choice Bill, Notes Funding of Budget Is Issue This Year

Tennessee State Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet) joined Monday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy to discuss the General Assembly’s legislative session this year, specifically concerning its approach to Governor Bill Lee’s Education Freedom Scholarship Act.

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Greatest Number of State Legislatures Pass School Choice Bills in 2023

Students and Teacher

Multiple legislatures across the country attempted to pass or passed some form of school choice legislation this year.

“Policymakers in 40 states debated 111 educational choice bills – 79 percent of which related to ESAs,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of EdChoice, said when announcing the findings of a newly published EdChoice report, the “ABC’s of School Choice.”

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Pennsylvania School Vouchers Called a Solution to ’19th Century’ Problem

As Pennsylvania’s divide over education funding continues, House Republicans once again championed their plan to give scholarships to students in low-performing schools to enroll elsewhere.

The House Republican Policy Committee met Tuesday in Philadelphia to hear testimony from education professionals, private school students, and parents on how families would benefit from Lifeline Scholarships, which has been controversial with Democrats who worry about diverting funding from public schools.

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Arizona’s School Choice Expansion Very Likely to Be Halted as Signatures Mount for ESA Blockage

Arizona’s historic legislation expanding school choice to every child in the state appears likely to be placed on hold right now, as a ballot measure aimed at stopping the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) expansion will probably make the 2024 ballot. Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) said its signature collectors turned in 141,714 signatures for “Stop Voucher Expansion” to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday. Only 118,823 valid signatures were required by Sept. 24, leaving plenty of room for error with bad signatures.

Jenny Clark, the founder of Arizona-based Love Your School and a new appointee to the Arizona State Board of Education whose children participate in the ESAs, told The Arizona Sun Times, “Today 11,000 Arizona students had the opportunity of an ESA put on hold. Every day that a child struggles in a school that’s not working for them is detrimental. But this is far from over. We will be monitoring the signature verification process, and continuing to walk alongside Arizona families and their children.”

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Katie Hobbs’ Education Plan Bashes School Vouchers

Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, running for Arizona’s highest office, released an education plan that bashes school vouchers and calls for tighter restrictions on charter schools. 

“Katie continues to oppose the universal expansion of school vouchers. As governor, she will work to roll back universal vouchers, which the legislature enacted against the will of voters this year,” according to the plan. “Vouchers should not have been expanded to provide an unaccountable means of enriching private schools and defunding our local public schools.”

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Gov. Lee Says over 2,000 Families Have Signed Up for School Voucher Program

Governor Bill Lee said last week that more than 2,000 families in Shelby and Davidson counties have already signed up for school vouchers. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, up to 5,000 are available this upcoming school year.

In 2019, the Tennessee General Assembly passed and Governor Bill Lee signed Public Chapter 506, which created the Tennessee Education Savings Account (ESA) program. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in May that the school voucher program is constitutional.

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Arizona Legislature Considering ‘Most Expansive Education Savings Account Program in the Nation’

The 2022 Arizona legislative session is almost over, but there are still a few key bills policy watchers say have a good chance of making it into law. One is HB 2853, which would expand school choice by opening Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to all K-12 students in the state.

Cory DeAngelis, a national education policy expert who serves as national director of research for the school choice organization, American Federation for Children, tweeted, “This would be the most expansive education savings account program in the nation. All families would be able to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

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Tennessee Supreme Court Hands Governor Lee Massive Victory on School Vouchers

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Governor Bill Lee’s school voucher program is constitutional. The voucher program only applies to failing schools in Davidson County and Shelby County.

The court said in a statement, “The Tennessee Supreme Court determined that, while two Tennessee county governments had standing to challenge the Education Savings Account Pilot Program (the “ESA Act”), the Act is not rendered unconstitutional by the Home Rule Amendment, article XI, section 9, of the Tennessee Constitution.”

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Corey DeAngelis: More School Choice Creates Greater Incentive for Teachers’ Unions to Push Student-Focused Policies

Corey DeAngelis of the American Federation for Children

In an interview with The Star News Network, nationally known school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis said teachers’ unions would be incentivized to push for more student-focused policies in public schools if school funding followed the child and more states adopted school choice programs.

DeAngelis, the national director of research at the American Federation for Children, is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and a senior fellow at the Reason Foundation.

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Demand for Gov. Ducey’s School Vouchers to Leave Arizona Schools That Mandate Masks or Require Unvaccinated Students to Quarantine Exceeds Funds

Doug Ducey

Just three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey announced that school districts issuing mask mandates or requiring vaccinated students to quarantine would be penalized by diverting money to students to use as school vouchers to attend elsewhere, demand has exceeded the $20 million he allotted by twice the amount. Ducey announced on August 17 that money the state received from the federal government through the pandemic-generated American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil spending would not go to any of those schools.

Ducey made the announcement immediately following a demand on August 11 from Republican state legislators to take action regarding those school districts. They suggested that Ducey could withhold federal funds and offer vouchers, which he did, but he did not go so far as following their recommendation of suing the school districts.

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Florida Might Allow School Vouchers for Children to Avoid Mask Mandates

The Florida Board of Education (BOE) is holding an emergency meeting today to consider a proposal to allow families to use their own tax dollars as school vouchers so they can transfer their children out of school districts requiring COVID-related procedures.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed their tune, once again, and is recommending face masks for all children in K-12 schools, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning mask mandates in Florida’s schools.

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Arizona Legislature Wraps up Session for the Year

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.

During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.

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Tennessee American Federation for Children: Gillum Ferguson Talks Education Savings Account and Determining Eligibility

In a special interview, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Communications Director for Tennessee’s American Federation for Children, Gillum Ferguson on the newsmakers line.

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North Carolina Governor Under Fire for Proposing Freezing School Voucher Program

by Joshua Nelson   A billboard campaign in North Carolina is taking aim at Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper after his announcement proposing freezing a scholarship program that has benefited minority students—more than 30 percent of which are African-American. The billboard says the governor is “failing when it comes to helping minority students” and encourages residents to call Cooper to reverse his decision. A group called the Job Creators Network launched the campaign on May 15 following Cooper’s recent budget proposal that included halting the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program, a state voucher system that gives up to $4,200 to children from low-income households to attend a private school of their choice. The Job Creators Network is a nonpartisan organization that educates business owners, entrepreneurs, and employees on government policies they deem harmful to “Main Street America.” As a former benefactor of a school voucher program, Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the group, has been outspoken against Cooper’s decision. “One of our members who lives in North Carolina made me aware of [Cooper’s decision],” Ortiz said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “And again, because it is the kind of a personal thing with something like this where scholarships…

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Tennessee Officials Who Fight School Vouchers Can’t Use Proper Grammar in Written Communications

Public school officials in Tennessee who protest school vouchers insist public schools are by far the best option for children, especially versus charter schools or private schools. Yet in their written communications some of them can’t seem to put a proper sentence together. Take Etowah City School Principal Brian Trammell, for instance. Trammell’s email to his teachers and other staff members this month begging them to lobby against school vouchers contained almost a dozen grammatical errors. Examples, with The Tennessee Star’s corrections in parenthesis: • “Yesterday Senate Bill 795(,) the Education Savings Account Bill (the alternative name for Vouchers to make the general public feel good about the Bill) (,) passed the Senate Education Sub-Committee.” • “The response from our Senators and Representatives will be that it will not effect (affect) McMinn County/Etowah City School students and families, but it will.” • “Once (a) pandoras (Pandora’s) box is open, parent groups, such as, (no comma needed) Homeschool parents start suing (comma needed) wanting the same “benefit” in every district in the state.” • “What is being communicated is ‘the folks in favor of this Bill are out numbering (outnumbering) the opposition.” • “If you have time(,) please email Representative Mark Cochran…

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Public School Principal May Have Violated Tennessee Law By Pressuring Teachers to Lobby Against School Vouchers

A Tennessee public school principal recently sent an email to teachers and staff at their school and urged them to lobby against the school vouchers’ bill currently up for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly. According to the language of the Tennessee Hatch Act, such activity violates state law. The principal warned teachers that vouchers would devastate public schools and lead to more homeschooled children in Tennessee having Education Savings Accounts. This principal also instructed teachers and staff to email complaints to specific legislators, in addition to Republican Gov. Bill Lee. The Tennessee Star has chosen not to identify the principal in question. This person also asked teachers to ask friends and family members to involve themselves in the matter. The principal asked teachers and staff members to do these things immediately and to also thank a specific legislator who opposes the bill. The Star has chosen not to identify that legislator. In closing the email, the principal assumed nearly everyone agreed that vouchers are bad. But this is an area where the principal could end up in trouble. Specifically, Tennessee’s Hatch Act says the following about this conduct: • “It is unlawful for any public officer or employee to…

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Final Details of Gov. Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account Plan Released

Tennessee students in urban cities could start escaping failing schools in fall 2021 as Gov. Bill Lee has pulled the curtain back on his education savings account (ESA) plan, with legislative action planned for Tuesday. Some say the math does not add up. Lee would spend up to $75 million in fall 2021, with half going to families whose children transfer to private or other non-public schools and the remainder going to the districts they leave behind, according to a story on Chalkbeat. The ESAs could cost $125 million each year by 2024. Only 5,000 students would qualify in Year One, Chalkbeat said. Up to 15,000 students could qualify by 2025. One catch is that the failing districts, which are among the 10 percent bottom performers, would only receive the subsidy payments for three years. The governor briefly addressed ESAs in his first State of the State address March 4, as reported by The Tennessee Star. The proposal would only be provided to five county school districts: Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Shelby and Madison (including the city of Jackson), The Star reported on March 10. Also included would be the state’s Achievement School District of failing schools, the Chattanooga Times Free Press…

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OFF THE RECORD: Executive Director of TOSS Uses Bad Grammar on Twitter to Encourage Superintendents to Lobby Education Commissioner on Budget

The executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents apparently does not use proper grammar on social media. This, even as he publicizes an event he considers important. Dale Lynch is the current TOSS executive director. TOSS, according to their list of legislative priorities, oppose school vouchers that would help children in failing public schools. On Wednesday morning, Lynch tweeted the following: “TN Supts…hope your engaging as Commissioner Schwinn presents the State Education budget that will effect your district. @tosstn1975 #engagenow” If this tweet was on paper, and if an English composition teacher were grading it, he or she would doubtless grab his or her red pen and draw a circle around “your” and “effect.” Using proper English, the tweet should have said ““TN Supts…hope YOU’RE engaging as Commissioner Schwinn presents the State Education budget that will AFFECT your district. “You’re,” of course, is short for “you are.” As for the difference between “affect” and “effect,” Vocabulary.com puts it this way: “Choosing between affect and effect can be scary. Think of Edgar Allan Poe and his RAVEN: Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun. You can’t affect the creepy poem by reading it, but you can enjoy the effect of a talking bird.” Again, members of TOSS oppose school vouchers because they say public…

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Governor Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account Plan Will Offer School Choice to Less Than One Percent of Tennessee Students in 2020

Gov. Bill Lee is moving forward on his campaign pledge of school choice in the form of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) available in 2020, although only about one-half of one percent of the state’s students would qualify to participate in the program’s first year. The governor delivered his first State of the State address Monday, as reported by The Tennessee Star. Lee said: I know there’s concern that programs like this will take money away from public schools, but my ESA plan will invest at least $25 million new dollars in public schools in the first year to fill the gap when a student transfers to another school. The Tennessee Department of Education referred a request for more information to the governor’s office. Lee spokesperson Laine Arnold did not reply to requests for comment. The proposal would only be provided to five county school districts: Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Shelby and Madison (including the city of Jackson). Also included would be the state’s Achievement School District of failing schools, the Chattanooga Times Free Press said. Only 5,000 students in fall 2020 would be eligible, or only about one-half of one percent of the state’s 975,000 students. Qualifying students would be eligible for…

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Rutherford County Officials Formally Oppose School Vouchers

Rutherford County officials have joined their counterparts at five other Tennessee school systems to formally oppose school vouchers. Board members with the Rutherford County School System just unanimously passed a resolution to that effect, school system spokesman James Evans told The Tennessee Star Tuesday. Murfreesboro City School System board members, meanwhile, may vote on a formal resolution opposing school vouchers and Educational Savings Accounts at their next scheduled board meeting on Tuesday. Pending the outcome of that vote, school system officials will forward the resolution to the House and Senate Education Committees, said school system spokeswoman Lisa Trail. The Rutherford County School System covers most of the county, but the city of Murfreesboro also has a smaller school zone that covers grades K-6 for some parts of the city, Evans said. Murfreesboro City Schools board member Butch Campbell declined to comment on the matter Tuesday. Rutherford County School System board member Coy Young, though, said taxpayers should not fund a private entity. He also said board members have met with state legislators representing that district to discuss the matter. Those state legislators, Young went on to say, never offered comment as far as whether they are for or against school…

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Tennessee School Districts Fighting School Vouchers Turn in Lackluster Academic Results, State Figures Reveal

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. Also in Nashville, 90 percent of students at Maplewood Comprehensive High School who went off to college needed remedial math. About 76 percent needed remedial reading courses. Almost 92 percent of students at White’s Creek Comprehensive High School needed remedial math, and 78 percent of them needed remedial reading. For Stratford Comprehensive High School, 88 percent needed remedial math courses. More than 73 percent of the students needed remedial reading. Christiane Buggs, who represents District…

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Jackson-Madison County School Board Members Oppose School Vouchers: ‘Is It Fair for Teachers . . . to Lose Their Jobs?’

Yet another school district in Tennessee has formally opposed school vouchers. Members of the Jackson-Madison County Board of Education, the governing authority for the public schools in the West Tennessee city of Jackson and the parts of Madison County beyond the city limits, voted unanimously on January 28 to oppose vouchers. The vote came after statements of opposition to vouchers were made by school boards and county commissions in other parts of the state, all part of what appears to be an orchestrated and coordinated effort by the Tennessee School Board Association. School Board member Janice Hampton told The Tennessee Star Tuesday that the vote among board members for a resolution opposing school vouchers was unanimous, something Jacksonsun.com also stated in its reporting on the January 28 meeting. Superintendent Eric Jones was perhaps the most outspoken against vouchers, according to Jacksonsun.com The website went on to say board members adopted a “recommended resolution from the Tennessee School Boards Association.” A Matter of Standards Two of the school board members — including Hampton — told The Star Tuesday that charter schools don’t measure up to the same academic standards as public schools. Public schools, she said, are better suited to meet all students’…

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Commentary: School Choice Also Gives Teachers Like Me More Choice

by Daniel Buck   During a moment of small group discussion in a professional development session, a teacher near me gave his opinion: Look, I’ve learned a few things in my time here, and that’s to only do these sorts of things on the days the administration comes in to watch. In most school buildings, there smolders an animosity of which most people aren’t aware between teachers and administrators. It shows up in staff meetings. It’s heard in teachers’ lounge gossip. “If only they trusted us and gave us the freedom to do our jobs as we saw fit,” goes the refrain of frustrated teachers. This tension, while a problem in itself, is indicative of a larger issue. There is a handful of different ways to teach that are based on different educational theories; public schools, not committed to any particular theory, mandate a poor mixture of them all onto their teachers. Private schools, a different option where the curriculum may be more aligned to individual beliefs, contain only 10 percent of school enrollment, leaving most teachers to teach a hodgepodge curriculum with which they don’t agree. It’s a matter, then, of hampered choice. The Problem A quick overview of…

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State Sen. Ken Yager Pledges Opposition to School Vouchers

State Senator Ken Yager (R-TN-12) said he will not support school vouchers if they come up for a vote in the Tennessee Legislature in 2019, the Independent Herald of Oneida said. “I am opposed to vouchers,” Yager said. “I will not support any proposal that will cause a hemorrhage of needed funds to our schools.” “One of the arguments on behalf of vouchers is freedom of choice,” Yager said. “I happen to believe we already have that choice. It’s called parental choice. You can send your kids to charter school if you want to, or to a private school, or you can home-school them or send them to a public school. The choice is already there. Gov.-elect Bill Lee campaigned on school choice. Yager’s statement would appear to go against what Lee has said is a priority, but will Lee follow through on his campaign promise? On the Dec. 11 Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. – the men analyzed Lee’s cabinet picks and the absence of any conservatives. They also discussed whether Lee would honor his “school choice” campaign pledge.…

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Tennessee Star Report: How Will Gov-Elect Lee Follow Up on School Choice Campaign Pledge?

In a specific discussion on Tuesday morning’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 – the duo contemplated Bill Lee’s current cabinets picks and the absence of any conservatives.  The conversation continued about whether or not Lee would hold true to his “school choice” (or more specifically “parent choice”) campaign pledge and why it needs to become a bill and why it hasn’t in the past. At the end of the segment, Leahy urged Lee to provide leadership on this matter. Gill: We’ve been talking a little bit about the Bill Lee transition process and who’s been put into place in his senior positions and cabinet positions who are being added as we speak.  Who are “whispering in his ear” to direct his assembling of his senior leadership team and cabinet.  And you’re welcome to join us, 615-737-9522.  Bill Lee and his team have not been able to find any conservatives any consistent dependable conservatives to serve in the senior positions of his administration at this point.  They’ve appointed roughly twelve cabinet level positions including commissioner of financing and administration, agriculture, commerce and insurance, tourism,…

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Bill Lee Discusses School Choice But Will Not Commit to Placing it on His Agenda During First Year as Governor

Governor-elect Bill Lee sat down for a twenty minute interview with Tennessean reporters Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison in that publication’s Grand Divisions podcast, which was also included in a story published at the Tennessean on Tuesday. Ebert pressed Lee on his commitment to supporting school choice in Tennessee, a central theme of the campaign. Lee said he was committed to school choice, but refused to promise that vouchers or school choice would be part of his first year agenda as governor. Sources tell The Tennessee Star that, at the moment, the Lee administration remains committed to school choice, but does not plan to make school choice an agenda item in his first year. This interview appears to confirm those sources. Here is the transcript of that portion of the interview: Ebert: Let’s go to the next subject.  While you’ve been campaigning you’ve talked about giving parents choices you know and you’ve mentioned that includes charters schools, school vouchers, um, and saying how those things will improve the state’s education system.  Of the handful of people you’ve added to your administration or announced that will join your administration, two are pro-voucher advocates, do you see in your first year vouchers…

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School Voucher Bill Pushed To Next Year

Tennessee supporters of school vouchers will have to wait until next year for another shot at legislative approval. Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) on Wednesday deferred his bill to next year. The proposed legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). Vouchers allow students to attend private schools with taxpayer money. Supporters have been trying for seven years to get vouchers approved in Tennessee. This year’s bill would have allowed for a pilot program in Memphis. Voucher proponents say they empower parents to make educational choices for their children. Critics of vouchers say they drain money from public schools and violate the separation of church and state when children choose to attend religious schools. Chalkbeat reports: Many advocates had thought that limiting vouchers to Memphis would give this year’s proposal the support needed to become law, winning over wary lawmakers from elsewhere in Tennessee. They also hoped to benefit from national attention to private school choice efforts. President Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, have both used their platforms to advocate for vouchers and similar programs. But in the end, disagreements over how private schools should be held accountable for academic results — as well as legislators’ exhaustion after…

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Movie Critical of Charter Schools and Vouchers Shown at Nashville Film Festival

  A documentary taking a critical look at charter schools and vouchers was shown Tuesday evening at the Nashville Film Festival. “Backpack Full of Cash” was filmed partly in Nashville and features Metro Nashville school board member Amy Frogge, who attended Tuesday’s screening at the Regal Hollywood 27 at 100 Oaks. Both charter schools and vouchers were referred to in the movie as efforts toward privatization. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run. Vouchers, sometimes called scholarships, allow students to attend private schools with public money. The title of the documentary refers to a metaphor used by a privatization proponent in the movie to illustrate how an allotted amount of taxpayer money follows each student to the school of their choice. Nashville has a number of charter schools and a voucher bill is currently moving through the state legislature. It will be heard Wednesday morning by the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee. The issue of privatization has ignited powerful and emotional reactions but ones that don’t fall along traditional ideological lines, proving the adage that politics makes strange bedfellows. Some conservatives are strong proponents of privatization, but so are Bill and Melinda Gates, also known for supporting progressive causes. The…

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