Tennessee’s school voucher bill inspires new rallies as opposition becomes louder

As the governor’s school choice voucher program gains more support from the Republican supermajority, Democrats are intensifying their opposition. They are organizing rallies outside the capitol in an effort to apply pressure on lawmakers.

“This proposal not only jeopardizes the ability of our public education system but also threatens to divert essential funding away from our schools where our children’s learning and growth are nurtured,” said parent Angela Nguyn.

The Tennessee for All coalition and Public School Strong Advocates, primarily composed of parents, expressed their strong opposition to Governor Bill Lee’s primary legislation. This legislation aims to allocate state vouchers funded by taxpayers to public school students. Under this proposal, students would receive up to $7,075 dollars annually to be used for private schools or homeschooling within the state.

According to Dustin Mark, any voucher bill will inevitably exclude children with disabilities, English language learners, and any children who benefit from federal legislation.

However, there is a clear divergence of opinions regarding this bill, which grants parents the freedom to choose their children’s education, and its potential impact on Tennessee’s education system.

“We are on track to reach a positive outcome, and discussions are currently taking place to determine what that will entail. I am particularly optimistic because things are progressing in the right direction, and we will be able to provide parents with greater opportunities in the future,” expressed Gov. Lee.

“The effort that’s being put in place by the students that have made this move into a different setting—going from a bad environment, or one that they were not successful in—and having a change of surrounding and environment and that creating a new sense of purpose for those students,” Representative Jody Barrett previously stated.

The proposed school voucher program, which is currently being considered, is estimated to have an annual cost of $141.5 million.

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