Pay More, Get Less

Tennessee’s voucher scheme fails to deliver, Lee wants to expand it

Gov. Bill Lee is proposing a massive expansion of Tennessee’s fledgling school voucher scheme (ESA). This despite evidence that universal vouchers are both expensive and ineffective.

The Center Square reports that the state’s current ESA program gave out $9800 per participant – higher than original estimates and more than Lee plans for his separate universal voucher.

Tennessee students in a pilot educational savings account program in three counties are receiving $9,800 – the average statewide funding per public school student – this year.

That’s higher than the $7,075 first-year number in a proposed statewide ESA program and higher than what the funding was estimated to be heading into the approval of the pilot, which is currently taking place in Davidson, Shelby and Hamilton counties.

The state’s education commissioner admits that early results are not promising when it comes to student academic achievement:

“They are required to administer the TCAP,” Reynolds said. “The results aren’t anything to write home about, is my understanding.

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