While Governor Bill Lee continues to fast-track his sketchy voucher experiment, more and more voices are raising concerns about the program.
The latest comes from Tonyaa Weathersbee in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Her argument highlights a key fact lawmakers would be wise to take into account as they consider repeal of the voucher scheme in 2020:
Mainly, in their rush to inflict vouchers on one of the poorest, mostly African American counties in the state, they have chosen to overlook the success of Shelby County schools’ Innovation Zone program in favor of an ideological approach that has shown few triumphs in boosting poor students’ academic performance.
That’s paternalism, not improvement.
Recent data from the non-partisan Brookings Institute, for example, shows that four rigorous studies done in Louisiana, Washington, D.C., Indiana and Ohio found that struggling students who use vouchers to attend private schools perform worse on achievement tests than struggling students in public schools.
Vouchers don’t work. In fact, they actually set students back. Legislators will have an opportunity to support a bipartisan voucher repeal effort in 2020 to correct this egregious mistake. Gov. Lee won’t be happy, but doing what’s best for Tennessee’s kids is more important than pleasing the Plaid Privatizer.
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