TN governor’s education savings account proposal presses on

School voucher proposal moves forward

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - TN Governor Bill Lee’s education savings account proposal cleared another hurdle Wednesday, but with some tweaks.

The school choice plan would give some families the ability to use state funds to send their child to a private school.

"There is no reason why we cannot give parents a choice in how they educate their children," said Dolores Gresham, senator.

A six to three vote moved Lee's education savings account proposal through the Senate Education Committee.

It came with changes that have already cleared the House.

The approved amendment doubled the cap on the number of students who could participate to 30,000.

It also added back funding to be spent on homeschooling, which is something that was taken out of the house bill last month.

The bill isn't without controversy

“I just don’t see where people in my communities are really going to be able to benefit and put their children through these elite schools. Not to mention that all of these schools require an admissions test,” said Raumesh Akbari, senator.

Memphis State Senator Raumesh Akbari voted 'no' Wednesday.

She fears money given to select parents to send their child to another school won't be enough.

As the bill stands now, families could get up to $7,300 a year to pay for private education.

"We're not fighting for dollars. This is not about losing money. This is making sure that we properly finance a million public education students in Tennessee," said Dale Lynch, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

Legislation advocates say the education savings plan gives poor students the same opportunities of a quality education given to the wealthy.

Education experts told the committee the savings plan would not impact public school funding or cause a mass exodus of students leaving the six school districts to use money to find better education

The bill now heads to both the House and Senate finance committees for further discussion.

Shelby County Schools’ Superintendent and IT board are both firmly against this legislation.

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