It may only be December, but the voucher battle at the General Assembly is already heating up.
There’s the Oak Ridge School Board, passing a resolution opposing the use of public funds for private school vouchers.
Then, there’s a Murfreesboro legislator citing President-elect Donald Trump’s support of vouchers as a reason to move forward on the issue.
To be sure, Trump has selected a free market fundamentalist and voucher advocate, Betsy DeVos, to be the next Secretary of Education.
According to the story in the Oak Ridger on the anti-voucher resolution, Rep. Kent Calfee stands in opposition to vouchers, while other lawmakers from the area are certain the issue will come up, but did not commit on how they would vote. Senators Randy McNally and Ken Yager have both supported voucher legislation in the past.
Meanwhile, in Murfreesboro, Senators Bill Ketron and Jim Tracy both indicated support for vouchers, with Ketron noting Trump’s support of vouchers.
Ketron also noted that he didn’t expect vouchers to impact Murfreesboro or Rutherford County schools.
So, the battle lines are being drawn for the 2017 voucher fight. It is a fight that may well coincide with the confirmation hearings of pro-voucher Secretary of Education candidate Betsy DeVos. If 2017 sees the General Assembly once again reject vouchers, 2018 will likely see Trump’s plan to spend some $20 billion of federal funds to entice states to enact voucher schemes. Those funds just might tempt Tennessee lawmakers.
More on Vouchers:
Lessons from Louisiana on Vouchers
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Vouchers are designed for students in failing schools. If the school, district, state cannot, after years of effort, rescue the failing schools, vouchers will succeed by rescuing the students. The voucher system must also be accountable in that the schools families choose must be schools that have a successful academic history.